The Senate confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor topped the news agenda last week, filling almost one-quarter of the newshole and accounting for one-third of the cable airtime. But ironically, the media narrative found that the most newsworthy element of the confirmation showdown was the absence of news.
The event seemed to illustrate an odd pattern that may be even stronger today in the era of smaller newsrooms: the news may be as much a function of where journalists are assigned to spend their time as what really happens there.
The Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination accounted for 22% of the overall coverage for the week of July 13-19, as measured by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. According to PEJ’s weekly News Coverage Index, it was the lead story in the online, network news and cable new sectors and was just short of the level of coverage (24%) from May 25-31, the week her nomination was announced.
Read the full report Sotomayor Hearings Lead the News Without Making News on the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.