News Interest Index: Fort Hood Shootings Top Interest, Coverage

  • November 11, 2009

The November 5 shootings at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas – which resulted in the death of 13 Americans – was the public's top news story last week. News coverage of the tragedy was also high, with the national media devoting more attention to the story than to any other.

Three-in-ten Americans followed news about the shootings at Fort Hood more closely than any other news story last week. In addition, the latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted November 6-9 among 1,001 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, finds that 44% say they paid very close attention to the shootings.

That level of very close interest is on par with the level of attention paid to the shootings at the Virginia Tech campus in 2007: at the time, 45% followed news about the Virginia Tech massacre very closely. By comparison, more than two-thirds (68%) followed news about the Columbine High School shootings very closely in late April 1999.

According to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), news coverage of the Fort Hood rampage accounted for 15% of the overall weekly newshole. In the three days immediately following the shootings, coverage accounted for more than a third (34%) of the newshole monitored by PEJ. Other leading stories – tracked over the full course of the week – such as health care reform and the off-year elections filled a somewhat smaller percentage of the newshole (8% and 13%, respectively).

Read the full report Fort Hood Shootings Top Interest, Coverage on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.