News Interest Index: Hurricane Irene Top Story for Public

Aug 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene was the public’s top news story last week in a busy seven days that included an unusual and widely-felt East Coast earthquake and major developments in Libya.

About four-in-ten (41%) say that Irene was the news story they followed most closely last week, according to the latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted Aug. 25-28 among 1,010 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The hurricane made landfall in North Carolina on Saturday while the survey was in the field. Nearly two-in-ten (18%) say they followed news about the nation’s struggling economy most closely, while 9% say their top story was the Virginia earthquake that rattled nerves across much of the East Coast.

With such big stories on the domestic front, the dramatic events in Libya garnered less public attention.  Early in the week, the media heavily covered the advance by rebel forces into Tripoli and the taking of Moammar Gadhafi’s compound. Just 5% of the public says this was the news they followed most closely. And only one-in-five (22%) say they paid very close attention to developments there.

Read the full report, Hurricane Irene Top Story for Public, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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