News Interest Index: Mosque Debate Tops Coverage, But Not News Interest

  • August 25, 2010

While the media focused on the emotionally-charged debate over plans to build an Islamic mosque and cultural center near the World Trade Center site in New York City last week, the public continued to track the Gulf oil leak.

About a third of the public (34%) says they followed news about the oil leak more closely than other major stories, 15% say they followed news about the economy most closely and 13% say they focused most closely on the mosque debate, according to the latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted Aug 19-22 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press among 1,003 adults. Another 9% say their top story was the withdrawal of the last U.S. combat forces from Iraq.
The controversy over the Islamic center accounted for 15% of news coverage, according to a separate analysis by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), making it the most reported story of the week. The war in Iraq and the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces accounted for 9% of the newshole, making it the second most reported story; economic news accounted for 7%. News about the oil leak took up just 3% of coverage. The public's continued high interest likely reflects the perceived importance of the story.

Read the full report, Mosque Debate Tops Coverage, But Not News Interest on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.