News Interest Index: Most Are Attentive to News About Disaster in Japan

Mar 22, 2011

News about the aftermath of the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan dominated the public’s news interest and media coverage last week. The crisis at Japan’s nuclear plants – far more than other aspects of the story – captured the most public interest.

Fully 57% say they followed news about the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami most closely last week, according to the latest News Interest Index survey conducted March 17-20 among 1,004 adults. Looking at another measure, 55% say they followed news about the catastrophe very closely. That is close to the 60% that said they very closely followed news about the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 shortly after it struck that impoverished Caribbean nation.

News about the disaster – most of which centered on the crisis at the damaged nuclear power plants – accounted for 57% of coverage for the week, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ). That makes this one of the most covered stories since PEJ started its weekly analysis four years ago. Late in the week, another major international story – preparations for and the start of a military campaign by the U.S. and allies against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in Libya –drew heavy coverage, according to PEJ.

Read the full report, Most Are Attentive to News About Disaster in Japan, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.

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