News Interest Index: Health Care Still Top Story, But Many Track Volcano

Apr 22, 2010

Americans say they followed news about the new health care law more closely than any other major story last week, but many also kept a close watch on the economy and the ash-spewing volcano in Iceland that disrupted international air travel.

Though media coverage of the health care debate has dropped significantly since President Obama signed the legislation into law on March 23, Americans continue to say this is the story they are following most closely (33%), according to the latest News Interest Index Survey conducted April 16-19 among 1,008 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. This likely reflects the perceived importance of this issue to the general public. Last week, the story accounted for 4% of the newshole

About two-in-ten (21%) say they followed news about the volcano spreading ash over Europe more closely than any other story, while 18% say the economy was the story they followed most closely. According to a separate analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), news about the economic crisis made up 16% of the newshole, news about the volcano accounted for 7% and news about U.S. nuclear weapons policies and the nuclear summit in Washington accounted for another 7%.

A smaller percentage say they followed news about the anti-government protests on April 15, tax filing day, more closely than any other story (3%), while 16% say they followed these stories very closely. Still, awareness of the Tea Party movement, the driving force behind the protests, has increased over the past month.

Read the full report Health Care Still Top Story, But Many Track Volcano on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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