News Interest Index: Public Tracking Health Care, Deadly Mine Accident

  • April 14, 2010

Americans continued to track news about the new health care law more closely than any other major story last week, though the media devoted the most attention to the deadly explosion in a West Virginia coal mine—and just 3% of coverage to health care reform.

A third of the public (33%) says they followed news about health care reform most closely, while 24% say the mining accident was the story they followed more closely than any other, according to the latest News Interest Index survey conducted April 9-12 among 1,012 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. News about the accident, the search for survivors and mine safety problems made up 17% of coverage, according to a separate analysis by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ).

The new poll also finds that close to four-in-ten Americans (38%) say that press treatment of Tiger Woods has been too tough. About as many say treatment of Woods as he returned to tournament play has been fair (39%), while 14% say it has been too easy.

In contrast, press treatment of another prominent figure in the news – Pope Benedict XVI – is largely seen as fair. A plurality (44%) says coverage of the pope has been fair as the Catholic Church grapples with reports about its handling of sex abuse allegations against priests. About a quarter (24%) say it has been too easy and 10% say it has been too tough. About two-in-ten (21%) say recent coverage of President Obama has been too tough, while 29% say treatment has been too easy; 42% say it has been fair.

Read the full report Public Tracking Health Care, Deadly Mine Accident on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.