News Interest Index: For Public, Oil Prices and Economic News Overshadow Campaign

  • July 02, 2008

News organizations continued to focus a great deal of attention on the presidential campaign last week, but the public was more interested in news about the rising price of oil and the overall economy.

As the price of oil reached a new record, a solid majority (57%) followed news about rising oil prices very closely. More than a third (35%) said they followed this story more closely than other news, making it the week's top story. Interest in oil prices was greater than it was last fall, when the price first reached $100 a barrel; last November, 44% of the public tracked oil prices very closely.

In addition, interest in economic news reached a 15-year high last week. Amid news of plunging stocks, a mounting credit crisis as well as higher energy costs, 49% of the public said they followed news about the economy very closely. The economy was the most closely followed story of the week for 16% of Americans.

News organizations devoted a substantial amount of coverage to oil prices and the economy, but the presidential campaign received far more coverage. The campaign was the week's most heavily covered story, accounting for 27% of all coverage, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's (PEJ) News Coverage Index. By contrast, news about oil prices and the U.S. economy accounted for 12% of all news last week, (oil prices 7%, economy 5%).

Read the full report For Public, Oil Prices and Economic News Overshadow Campaign on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.