Two stories—one that featured some gloomy news and another with a distinctly more upbeat tone—vied for attention at the top of the news agenda last week.
Driven by disappointing jobs numbers that cast further doubt on the strength of the recovery, the economy narrowly edged out the Gulf oil disaster, where the major news was a successful stanching of the disastrous leak.
The sputtering economy, fueled by a July labor report showing no change in the nation's unemployment rate, accounted for 12% of the newshole from August 2-8, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. That was up modestly from 10% the previous week as coverage of the jobs situation accounted for more than a third of all the economy-related news studied.
Coverage of the Gulf oil disaster made up 11% of the week's news, with attention focused on the apparent success of the “static kill” measure, which by the week's end seemed to have permanently stopped the flow. Despite this important development, the spill saga generated its lowest amount of media attention since the week of April 19-25, when the oil rig exploded and the story received 5% of the coverage.
The 2010 mid-term elections followed the Gulf disaster as the No. 3 story. Voters went to the polls for primary elections in several states. But a significant portion of the coverage dwelt on perceived troubles for the Democratic Party, which included everything from House members under investigation to internal bickering. Overall, the story filled 8% of the newshole.
Read the full report, A Tough Economy and a Plugged Leak Top the News on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.