PEJ News Coverage Index: Apr. 6 - 12, 2009, Focus Shifts Overseas as Economic News Recedes

  • April 14, 2009

After weeks of being fixated on grim economic news, the mainstream media narrative shifted dramatically last week to a mix of dramatic international events. 

Coverage of the economic meltdown fell to 15% of the newshole the week of April 6-12, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. That is the lowest level of attention to that subject since the week of President Obama's inauguration. As recently as the last week in March, the story had accounted for 41% of the coverage examined by PEJ's News Coverage Index.

Not only was the faltering economy a smaller story last week, but for much of the year, other major weekly stories often intersected with the financial health of the nation. That was not the case last week.  Four of the five biggest stories were unrelated to the financial crisis and together, they filled nearly one third of the overall newshole.

The No. 2 story,  just behind the economy at 14%, was the Somali pirates who targeted a U.S. merchant ship and triggered a high-stakes hostage drama. Next (at 8%) was Obama's overseas trip, where the media focus was on his visit to Turkey and continued outreach to the Islamic world. And two foreign crises of a very different nature rounded out the week's top-five list—the deadly earthquake in Italy (6%) and the North Korean launch of a long-range missile in defiance of much of the international community (4%).

Read the full report Focus Shifts Overseas as Economic News Recedes on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.