News Interest Index: News About Economy Seen as Less Dire, More Hopeful

  • August 12, 2009

News about the economy and the debate over health care reform continue to dominate public attention. A growing proportion of Americans say they are hearing mostly good news about the economy, while the percentage saying the news is mostly bad has fallen since July. On health care, protests at contentious town hall meetings with lawmakers are drawing widespread attention. And a majority of those who have heard about the meetings say that the way people have been protesting against current proposals is appropriate (61%).

About three-in-ten (29%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about the economy, down from 41% in July, while the number hearing mostly good news is up from 3% to 11%. The percentage hearing a mix of good and bad is largely unchanged (59% now; 56% in July).

The latest News Interest Index survey, conducted August 7-10 among 1,004 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, also finds that the public is hearing better news about financial markets than in June. Today, 20% say they are hearing mostly good news about those markets, compared with 9% in June. The number hearing mostly bad news dropped 12 points to 31%.

Despite strong interest in news about the economy, the public again followed news about the health care debate more closely than any other major story last week (36%). About two-in-ten (21%) say they followed reports about the economy most closely, making these the week's top stories.

Nearly eight-in-ten say they heard a lot (49%) or a little (29%) about the at-times angry community meetings. By a 58% to 43% margin, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say they heard a lot about the protests over health care at town hall meetings.

Read the full report News About Economy Seen as Less Dire, More Hopeful on the Pew Research Center's People & the Press Web site.