PEJ News Coverage Index: Apr. 13 - 19, 2009, Economy Shares Headlines with Pirates, Tea Parties and Waterboarding

Apr 20, 2009

For the second week in a row, the economic crisis only narrowly edged out Somali pirates as the top story in what is becoming a more a diverse news landscape than earlier in the year.

With media attention to the financial meltdown falling to less than 50% of its level a month ago, an obvious question emerges: As the news about the economy gets modestly better, and the torrent of grim news slows, is the story attracting less attention than it did when things seemed more dire?

For the week of April 13-19, the financial crisis accounted for 18% of the newshole, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. While that’s a small increase over the previous week (15%), it marks the third in a row when   the subject has accounted for less than 20% of the coverage. By contrast, it filled 43% of the newshole in the first two months after Barack Obama’s inauguration.

One effort last week to summarize the state of the economy, a front-page story in the April 15 Washington Post, began with the sentence, “The president and the Federal Reserve chairman voiced cautious optimism yesterday that the economy could be beginning to stabilize,” Perhaps a storyline that ambiguous and tenuous helps explain why the media have diverted their attention to pirates and other events in recent weeks. 

Read the full report Economy Shares Headlines with Pirates, Tea Parties and Waterboarding on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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