PEJ News Coverage Index: October 4-10, 2010. Skirmishing in Key Races Drives Election Coverage

  • October 13, 2010

Even without major new developments to report, the 2010 midterms dominated last week's news—another indication that the crucial elections are likely to drive coverage for the next month.

From October 4-10, the elections accounted for 25% of the newshole, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. That was down just slightly from the week before, when the subject made up 26%.

Last week marked the fourth straight one in which the elections registered as the top story. And from September 13 to October 10, the subject has accounted for 27% of the newshole—easily outdistancing the No. 2 story in that period, the economy, at 12%. That amount of attention has been fairly consistent, whether there was a tight primary contest  being decided—such as Delaware's GOP Senate race—or, as was the case this past week, candidates trading barbs and accusations in the long march to November.

Coverage of the midterms more than doubled that of the next biggest story—the ailing U.S. economy. Last week, the focus of the economic news was less about underwater homeowners than about the banks that were doing the paperwork. Scrutiny of questionable foreclosure practices helped make the economy No. 2 for the week, with 11% of the coverage.

The ninth anniversary of the U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan lifted that conflict to the No. 3 spot last week (5%). Sober reflections on the years of war were coupled with fresh reports of NATO casualties.

Read the full report, Skirmishing in Key Races Drives Election Coverage on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.