The four-year-old war in Iraq dwarfed all other topics in the American news media during the first quarter of 2007. But although the bloodshed is occurring about 6,000 miles from Washington, coverage of the conflict has been overwhelmingly U.S.-centric. More than 80% of war news has focused on Americans -- those shaping policy, fighting or affected at home. Only about one in six stories about the war has primarily been about Iraqis, whether about their government, their lives, or their casualties.
The second biggest story of the quarter was the 2008 presidential race, even with Election Day still 17 months away. The campaign consumed 7% of the newshole in the first three months, but that coverage has been quite lopsided. So far, the Democratic candidates have attracted about three times as much attention as the Republican contenders. And that is largely due to intense media interest in two people, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Those are some of the key conclusions drawn from the first quarterly report of the Project for Excellence in Journalism's News Coverage Index, a weekly content analysis of the coverage of 48 different outlets in five different media sectors.
Among the report's major findings:
- 55% of all Iraq war coverage has been about the political debate raging in Washington. And while 32% has focused on events in Iraq, more than half of that coverage has been about U.S. troops there.
- Coverage of the Democratic presidential hopefuls has outstripped that of the GOP candidates by 61% to 24%. And nine out of 10 of the 2008 campaign stories have been about tactics and horse race, rather than policy or character.
View an article and charts highlighting the major findings at the Pew Research Center Web site.
Read the the full report "News Coverage Index Quarterly Report: Iraq War Coverage Mostly about the U.S., 2008 Presidential Campaign Coverage Mostly about Democrats" on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.