News reports last week about the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas competed for public attention with stories about the U.S. financial crisis and the Obama presidential transition. Roughly three-in-ten (28%) paid very close attention to news about renewed fighting in the Gaza Strip, while 18% say this was the single news story they followed most closely. Still, in a week in which the media devoted more newshole to Middle East coverage than any other story, Americans remained most focused on the continuing economic crisis.
Public interest in the first days of the latest Middle East conflict is on par with other recent foreign news stories, but is lower than interest in the Israel-Hezbollah war in August 2006: 40% followed news of that conflict very closely. It is important to note that the current survey was already in the field when Israel launched its ground invasion on Jan. 3, ratcheting up the intensity of the conflict and the media coverage.
Read the full report Mideast Competes with Economy and Obama For Public Interest on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.