PEJ News Coverage Index: March 7-13, 2011. A Furious Week Ends in Disaster

Mar 15, 2011

It was a dramatic week. Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi won key victories in the Libyan civil war. After weeks of protests, Wisconsin Republicans found a way to suddenly pass a measure curtailing collective bargaining rights. And passions were stirred by a U.S. House hearing on radical Islam.

But on Friday March 11,  the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan commanded virtually wall-to-wall coverage, accounting for more than half (52%) of the overall newshole studied by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. And as is often the case with dramatic breaking news, the disaster was first and foremost, a television story—accounting for more than three-quarters of the airtime examined on both broadcast and cable news on March 11.

Even though it happened on a Friday, the events in Japan registered as the No. 3 story for the week of March 7-13, accounting for 12% of the overall newshole in the News Coverage Index. Given the many dimensions to the story—including growing concern over radiation from damaged nuclear plants—there is a strong likelihood it will continue to dominate the news for the foreseeable future.

Read the full report, A Furious Week Ends in Disaster, on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site. 

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