PEJ News Coverage Index: Dec. 1 - 7, 2008, The News Gets Grimmer at Home and Abroad

  • December 09, 2008

With desperate automakers asking Congress for $34 billion, Barack Obama unveiling key Cabinet members, and the U.S. scrambling to ease tensions between India and Pakistan, the three top storylines in the news intertwined last week.

Fears of a deeper recession, job losses, and the Detroit bailout drama made themes about the economy the biggest story the first week of December. As Obama unveiled his national security team, coverage of the incoming administration was the No. 2 storyline from Dec. 1-7. The challenges that team will face were highlighted by the other major story last week, the fallout from the Mumbai massacre that inflamed international tensions and resurrected terrorism fears.

Together, the three storylines accounted for more than two-thirds of the coverage in the weekly News Coverage Index of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. They also reinforced a message growing ever more prominent in the post-election media narrative—that Obama will take office facing the most daunting set of crises since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. Indeed, one idea that surfaced in the week's coverage, articulated bluntly by Congressman Barney Frank, was that Obama needed to, in effect if not officially, grab the reigns of power before his inauguration.

Read the full report The News Gets Grimmer at Home and Abroad on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.