PEJ News Coverage Index: July 6 - 12, 2009, Jackson's (and Palin's) Star Power Drive the Media Narrative

  • July 14, 2009

Two major celebrities—one in the entertainment industry, the other in politics—drove the news agenda last week, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For the second in week a row, the fallout from the death of pop singer Michael Jackson was the week's top story. It filled 17% of the newshole from July 6-12, due in large part to the star-studded July 7 memorial service viewed on TV by an estimated 31 million Americans. Meanwhile, the No. 3 story last week (7%) was the continuing chatter over the July 3 resignation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who may now be a cultural figure as well as a political one.

Together the Jackson and Palin storylines accounted for about a quarter of the coverage last week, as measured by PEJ's weekly News Coverage Index, which monitors the coverage in 55 different media outlets. Those two stories, indeed, generated more attention than three events that might fit a more traditional definition of news. The ongoing economic crisis, the skirmishing over health care legislation and President Obama's Moscow summitry combined to fill 22% of the weekly newshole.

Read the full report Jackson's (and Palin's) Star Power Drive the Media Narrative on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.