PEJ News Coverage Index: Mar. 22 - 28, 2010, Health Care Reform Sweeps Capital and the Media

  • March 31, 2010

With it passage in Congress, health care reform dominated the news last week more than any story had in a year.

Fully 45% of the week's news coverage was devoted to the bill, its passage, the political fallout and what the legislation would do, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The last time a story received this much coverage in one week was in March of 2009, when outrage over the bonuses at insurance giant AIG put the economy at 53% of the newshole.

Nearly half of that health care coverage last week, 47%, focused on the political implications of the bill's passage. A quarter of the health care coverage, 22%, focused on how the law would change health care. The ensuing threats to lawmakers and the coverage of the last minute lawmaking made up much of the rest. 

All other subjects in the news paled by comparison to coverage of health care last week. The second biggest story line involved the economy, filling 9% of the newshole (that is, time on television and radio, and space online and in print). Third was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, highlighted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trip to Washington, also at 3%.That was followed by the recent controversy involving the Catholic Church and questions about whether Pope Benedict XVI, at various points in his career, had failed to properly address the actions of pedophile priests. It occupied just over 3% of the newshole. The fifth biggest story of the week was Google's withdrawal from mainland China, at about 3%.

Read the full report Health Care Reform Sweeps Capital and the Media on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site