News Interest Index: Haiti Dominates Public's Consciousness

  • January 20, 2010

Americans have been highly focused on the massive earthquake that struck Haiti Jan. 12. Not only is the disaster clearly the public's top news story, fully 70% say it is the story they are talking about with friends.

Overall interest in news about the Haiti earthquake is on par with interest in the tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean in December 2004. Fully 60% say they followed news about the earthquake very closely; about the same percentage (58%) said they followed news about the tsunami in the Indian Ocean very closely in January 2005. Public attentiveness to both events far surpasses interest in other overseas natural disasters in recent years. Somewhat more people paid very close attention to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (70%).

The public is not only closely tracking news from Haiti: In the days following the quake, 18% report they or someone in their household made a donation to those affected by the earthquake, while another 30% say they plan to donate. Americans took full advantage of new technologies to give to the victims of the earthquake. While 39% of those who gave made a donation in person, 23% gave on the internet and 14% gave via text message; by comparison, 12% gave by phone and just 5% made their donation through the mail.

Read the full report Haiti Dominates Public's Consciousness on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.