With his Presidency weakened and perhaps at a crucial point, Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last week generated substantially more coverage than his two previous major speeches to Congress.
Accounting for 19% of the newshole, the January 27 prime-time talk was the No. 1 story the week of January 25-31, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. That far exceeds the 11% of newshole generated by the President’s September 9, 2009 speech pushing for health care legislation and the 10% devoted to his February 24, 2009 address dealing with an economic crisis triggering comparisons to the Great Depression.
PEJ’s weekly News Coverage Index also found more attention to the President by another metric last week. Obama was the predominant figure in more stories last week than at any time since his inauguration a year earlier. The President was the “lead newsmaker” in fully 21% of the roughly 1,100 stories studied last week. (To be a lead newsmaker, a figure must appear in at least 50% of a story.)
The No. 2 story from January 25-31 was the economy (18%), which featured a number of storylines, including the somewhat contentious re-appointment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Another key component was Obama’s announcement of a federal spending freeze, a move made in advance of the State of the Union speech.
Read the full report On State of the Union Week, It’s All About Obama on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.