News Interest Index: Growing Interest in Swine Flu, Many See Press Overstating its Danger

Oct 15, 2009

As the first vials of swine flu vaccine make their way into American communities, public interest in news about the disease is increasing. Nearly as many people now cite swine flu as their top news story of the week as mention the health care debate – the first time in several months that reports on health care have not clearly led the public’s news agenda.

Close to four-in-ten Americans (38%) say they are following news about the swine flu and vaccine very closely, the highest percentage tracking the issue very closely since spring. In early May, 43% said they were following news about the swine flu very closely.

The latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted October 9-12 among 1,003 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, finds that fewer than half (46%) say news reports are presenting the swine flu’s danger about right, while nearly as many (43%) say news reports are overstating the danger; just 7% say the press is understating the potential threat from the swine flu. More than half of Republicans (54%) say news reports are overstating the swine flu’s danger, compared with 42% of independents and just 35% of Democrats.

Read the full report Growing Interest in Swine Flu, Many See Press Overstating its Danger on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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