PEJ News Coverage Index: Aug. 31 - Sep. 6, 2009, From Health Care to Wildfires, a Broad Diet of News

Sep 09, 2009

In a week when no one story dominated the media landscape, two big domestic issues, an emerging overseas challenge, a natural disaster and an unnatural crime led the roster of top stories.

Indeed, the leading story last week varied depending on which media sector one visited.

The No. 1 story, for the sixth time in seven weeks, was the health care debate, which filled 14% of the newshole from August 31-September 6, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. While coverage was up from the previous week (11%), that still represents a significant drop in attention from the peak weeks earlier in the summer, when political wrangling and angry town hall meetings fueled the narrative.

But the event that actually drove the coverage has not even occurred yet—Barack Obama’s September 9 speech to a joint session of Congress, widely viewed as a pivotal moment for his health care initiative. With that as a backdrop, it is a good bet that coverage of the subject will spike significantly this week.  (Last week’s coverage was fueled by the two talk-oriented media sectors, cable and radio, where health care received roughly double the attention it generated overall, 26% of radio airtime and 25% in the cable shows examined).

Read the full report From Health Care to Wildfires, a Broad Diet of News on the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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