PEJ News Coverage Index: Nov. 16 - 22, 2009, Public Policy (and Palin) Drive the Week's News

  • November 24, 2009

After being overshadowed by the Fort Hood shootings for several weeks, the year's two major domestic policy stories—health care and the economy—re-emerged atop the news agenda last week.

But much of the media buzz, particularly in the talk show universe, revolved around the week's No. 3 story—Sarah Palin's book tour—which to some degree inevitably turned into a referendum on the press itself.

Coverage of Palin often seems to end up with the news media's behavior near the center of the narrative. And that was the case last week as media vetting of “Going Rogue” and her complaints about a Newsweek cover photo became issues in their own right.

From November 16-22, health care reform was the No. 1 story, accounting for 13% of the newshole according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The Saturday, November 21, vote to bring legislation to the Senate floor for debate—a significant, but far from decisive milestone—occurred too late in the week to have a major impact on this News Coverage Index.

The U.S. economy was the second-biggest story (at 12%), amid more mixed signals about the unemployment picture.

Read the full report Public Policy (and Palin) Drive the Week's News on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.