News Interest Index: Local TV A Top Source For Swine Flu News

May 06, 2009

Americans tracked news about the fast-moving swine flu virus more closely than any other story last week, with most turning to television for details on its spread. Still, when people were asked to name which information source was most useful, the largest share chose the Internet.

The latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted May 1-4 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, finds that more people say they learned something about the flu from local television news (69%) or cable news channels (63%) than from the nightly network news (53%), the internet (49%) or newspapers (48%).

But the rankings change when people are asked which source has been most useful in learning about the global outbreak that started in Mexico. One quarter cite the Internet, 19% name the cable news networks and 17% their local television news. About one-in-ten cite the nightly network newscasts or newspapers (9% each).

News about the spread of the H1N1 virus – and uncertainty about its potential danger – grabbed people’s attention in a busy news week that also included the bankruptcy filing by Chrysler, the 100th day of the Obama presidency and a party switch by veteran senator Arlen Specter. Still, close to four-in-ten (39%) say they followed news about the virus more closely than any other story.

Read the full report Local TV A Top Source For Swine Flu News on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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