PEJ News Coverage Index: April 26-May 1, 2011. Tornadoes Lead News in Days Before bin Laden Death

May 04, 2011

The deadly tornadoes that ripped through the Southeast on April 27—reportedly killing more than an estimated 300 people and leaving hundreds more missing—topped the news agenda from April 25-May 1, accounting for 15% of the newshole, according to the PEJ’s News Coverage Index. No domestic natural disaster has generated that level of attention in a single week since September 1-7, 2008 (17%), when Hurricane Gustav hit Louisiana, causing mass evacuations.

Storm coverage was boosted in part by Barack Obama’s April 29 visit to hard-hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama—a trip he took after making the decision in Washington to give the green light to the bin Laden mission.

Video images of twisters—many provided by amateur videographers—and scenes of devastation received heavy play on television, especially on the broadcast networks, where the storm news accounted for 23% of the airtime studied by PEJ.

Read the full report, Tornadoes Lead News in Days Before bin Laden Death on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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