PEJ News Coverage Index: Nov. 30 - Dec. 6, 2009, Afghanistan Dominates While Two Scandals Fascinate

  • December 08, 2009

In a week when Barack Obama announced a decision destined to have a critical influence on his presidency, his plan for the conflict in Afghanistan dominated the news.

From November 30-December 6, Afghanistan accounted for 27% of the newshole, according to the Pew Research Center's Project of Excellence. That was the largest amount of attention the media have devoted to the war there since the PEJ began monitoring the news in January 2007.

The catalyst was the President's December 1 speech at West Point when he ordered a surge of 30,000 more troops to the battle zone and outlined a timetable for withdrawal—decisions that generated some criticism from the ranks of both hawks and doves. And it marks a growing rise in coverage of the conflict. For most of the last three years the fighting in Afghanistan had attracted minimal media attention. But starting late summer, that coverage spiked markedly with much of the focus on the lengthy and leaky Obama strategy review. Before last week, the previous high water mark (20%) occurred from Oct. 5-11, when news of policy disagreements inside the administration drove the narrative.

The No. 2 story (14%) last week was the economy. Early in the week, coverage was fueled by a White House jobs summit amid concerns about lingering high unemployment. But on Friday, those fears were allayed somewhat by news of an unexpected drop in the jobless rate.

Read the full report Afghanistan Dominates While Two Scandals Fascinate on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.