More than eight years after 9/11, the ability of a terror attack—even a failed one—to transform and dominate the news landscape was evident last week.
With the fallout from the Christmas Day airline bombing plot as the No. 1 story, topics intertwined with terrorism accounted for more than one-third (36%) of the newshole from January 4-10, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. That represents the biggest week of terror-related coverage since PEJ’s News Coverage Index began in January 2007.
At the same time, the two top domestic policy issues, the economy and health care, combined to account for 15% of last week’s overall coverage.
With the focus on Barack Obama’s toughening response to intelligence failures—and with some commentary following partisan lines—the Christmas plot filled 17% of the newshole last week. A similar subject, events related to U.S. anti-terror efforts more generally, was the No. 3 story, filling 10% of the newshole. Coverage of Yemen, where bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab reportedly received assistance, accounted another 4%. And a similar amount of coverage was devoted to stories taking a broad look at the struggle against Al-Qaeda and the recent Afghanistan bombing that killed seven CIA employees, for which Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility.
Read the full report From Detroit to Yemen, Terror Tops the News Agenda on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.