PEJ News Coverage Index: Feb. 23 - Mar. 1, 2009, The New Obama Narrative: “Change” was an Understatement

Mar 04, 2009

In a week chock full of major events designed to address the crisis—a fiscal responsibility summit, a prime-time presidential speech and the unveiling of Obama’s first budget—the increasingly frail state of the U.S. economy again dominated the headlines.

And amid the swirl of events, a media meta narrative was forming that was considerably greater than the sum of the news: After only five weeks in office, Obama was staking his presidency on a stunning and sweeping overhaul of domestic priorities.

Driven primarily by the Obama budget and concerns over the nation’s red ink, the economic crisis was easily the top story from February 23-March 1, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. It filled 38% of the newshole, compared with 39 % the previous week. But that is only a partial indicator of the dominance of economic news last week.

The second biggest story (10% of newshole), was Obama’s Feb. 24 speech—delivered to Congress but aimed at living rooms—intended to strike a balance between reassurance and urgency about the country’s economic stability. Coverage of the failing U.S. auto industry accounted for another 2%. Some of the media’s attention to the mechanics of the new Administration last week also included an analysis of Obama’s ambitious efforts at domestic restructuring.

Read the full report The New Obama Narrative: “Change” was an Understatement on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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