After a brief absence, the Gulf oil spill returned to the top of the news agenda last week. But the level of recent coverage suggests that the story that has dominated the mainstream media for more than two months is finally losing some steam.
Fueled partly by concerns about the impact of Hurricane Alex on the cleanup, the environmental disaster was the No. 1 story filling 15% of the newshole from June 28-July 4. That is down from 23% the previous week, when the subject was the No. 2 story, narrowly trailing the General McChrystal /Afghanistan saga. The week before that (June 14-20) the spill accounted for 44% of the newshole.
Thus, the level of coverage has dropped by about two-thirds in the past several weeks. The once-hot political narrative—the performance of the Obama White House in the crisis—has diminished. And while other developments could produce a spike in coverage, the relief well that may provide a breakthrough in containment is not expected to be ready until August.
Read the full report, The Spill Leads the News in a Balanced Week on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.