PEJ News Coverage Index: Oct. 19-25, 2009, Buzz over Bonuses Drives Coverage of Economy

  • October 27, 2009

An issue that has repeatedly provoked public passion and media scrutiny—big bonuses at bailed-out banking institutions—helped drive coverage of the economic crisis last week to its highest level in more than two months.

With anger over Wall Street compensation simmering and the Obama Administration slashing the pay of some executives, the economy accounted for 15% of the newshole from October 19-25, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. That made the economy the week's No. 1 story and represents the most attention to the subject since August 3-9, when a government report showed a small dip in the unemployment rate.

The issue of pay at firms that received federal bailout money has proved a major newsmaker before. The week of March 16-22, reports that bailed-out insurance giant AIG was handing out more than $150 million in bonuses triggered public outrage and helped drive economic coverage to its highest level this year—53% of the newshole.

Last week also provided further evidence of Afghanistan's recent emergence as a major ongoing news story. Reports that President Hamid Karzai had agreed to a runoff election made the conflict there the No. 2 story from October 19-25. The subject filled 13% of the newshole—nearly doubling the previous week's coverage of 7%. 

Read the full report Buzz over Bonuses Drives Coverage of Economy on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.