The threat of nuclear disaster in Japan and the killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs were two of the breaking news stories that captured the greatest amount of public attention in 2011. But Americans also kept a steady watch on the economy at home. More than half said they followed news about rising fuel prices very closely in April, while the struggling economy remained a top story throughout the year.
In the week after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, 55% said they were following news about the disaster very closely, the highest for any news story over the course of the year. News about the situation in Japan proved to be the most closely followed news story for six consecutive weeks, as the extent of damage to a nuclear power complex became a more grave concern.
But 2011 was a year of many big stories. In early May, half (50%) of Americans very closely followed news about Osama bin Laden’s death. And on the domestic front, 53% said they tracked news about rising gas and oil prices very closely in mid-April. The January shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, Arizona was closely tracked by 49%.
Read the full report, 2011: A Year of Big Stories Both Foreign and Domestic, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.