News Interest Index: Economic Stories Top Public Interest and Coverage

Sep 21, 2011

Amid continued worries about the health of the nation’s economy and persistent unemployment, the debate in Washington over President Obama’s jobs legislation topped the public’s news interest last week.

Nearly a quarter of the public (23%) says they followed the back and forth over Obama’s proposal more closely than any other news last week, according to the latest News Interest Index survey, conducted Sept. 15-18 among 1,006 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Other economic stories also drew the public’s interest: 11% say their top story was the recent ups and downs in the stock markets and 7% say they followed news about new government poverty figures most closely. Another 5% cite the debt crisis in Greece and other European countries as their top story.

Combining several separate story lines, news about the U.S. economy also topped coverage, making up 20% of the newshole altogether, according to a separate analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. About half of that – 10% of total coverage – dealt with the debate over Obama’s jobs plan and alternative ideas offered by Republicans. News about the economy’s impact on Americans – mostly tied to the government report that said 46 million Americans now live in poverty – accounted for 3% of coverage. News about the stock market swings accounted for another 1%, while other economic news made up another 6%. Separately, the debt crisis in Europe accounted for 4% of overall coverage.

Read the full report, Economic Stories Top Public Interest and Coverage, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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