PEJ News Coverage Index: May 10-16, 2010: The Oil Spill Tops the Kagan Nomination

  • May 18, 2010

The second Supreme Court nomination of Barack Obama's presidency generated significant coverage last week, but failed to surpass the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as the top story.

As the rig—leased by British Petroleum—continued to leak millions of gallons of oil, the saga accounted for 17% of the newshole from May 10-16, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. And in a week in which oil company executives appeared before Congressional hearings, the biggest storyline focused on who was responsible for the disastrous accident.

Since the April 20 explosion of the oil rig that triggered the spill, the story has continued to display strong staying power. While coverage was down modestly from the previous week (20%), this marked the fourth consecutive week the subject was among the top five in the mainstream media, according to PEJ's News Coverage Index.

The second-biggest story of the week was the nomination of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, at 13% of the newshole. While her nomination generated coverage and commentary, it lagged well behind the attention paid to Obama's selection of Justice Sonia Sotomayor last year.  Driven by attention to her Latina heritage and the emergence of race as an issue, the Sotomayor nomination filled 24% of the newshole from May 25-31, 2009.

View the full article, The Oil Spill Tops the Kagan Nomination, on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.