PEJ News Coverage Index: Sept. 7 - 13, 2009, A Speech and a Shout Drive Health Care Coverage

  • September 15, 2009

The debate over how and if to reform the American health care system re-intensified and dominated the news agenda last week.

That was fueled by a much anticipated Presidential speech and an unanticipated outburst from a South Carolina Congressman.

For the week of September 7-13, the battle over health care reform accounted for 32% of the newshole, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. That equals the previous high-water mark in PEJ's News Coverage Index, which monitors the agenda of the mainstream media. That occurred during the week of August 10-16, when angry town hall confrontations were driving the press narrative.

Last week, the event fueling media attention was President Obama's September 9 prime time address to Congress. In much of the coverage, the speech was depicted as a crucial attempt to regain momentum after a month when Obama opponents seemed to assume the upper hand in the message/political wars. But as it turned out, Obama had to share the media's post-speech post-mortems with Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, who heckled the President with the now famous “you lie” shout.

Read the full report A Speech and a Shout Drive Health Care Coverage on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.