O.J. Simpson's recent arrest on robbery and assault charges was the most heavily covered news story last week. Yet public interest in the Simpson case was fairly modest. Overall, just 13% of Americans say they followed reports about Simpson's arrest very closely, while 17% listed it as the single story they followed most closely. By contrast, there was much greater public interest in the situation in Iraq: 32% say they paid very close attention to the war, and 25% followed it more closely than any other story last week.
Simpson's latest legal troubles drew somewhat more interest from blacks than whites. About a quarter of blacks (24%) cited Simpson's arrest as the week's top story, compared with 15% of whites. There was broad agreement among both blacks and whites, however, that Simpson's case received too much press coverage though the coverage was fair.
A much larger racial gap emerged on another high profile news story: the demonstrations in Jena, Louisiana in support of six black teenagers involved in a schoolyard fight. The so-called Jena Six story was by far the biggest story of the week among African Americans. Fully half of blacks say they followed this story very closely, while 40% listed it as the story they followed most closely last week. By contrast, just 11% of whites followed the story very closely and 9% listed it as their top story. The national news media devoted 5% of its coverage to this story, which is less than half of the amount of coverage that news organizations devoted to the Simpson arrest (13%).
Read the full report on Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Web site.