For much of this election season, media coverage has been driven by a series of discrete, often unexpected events—from Rev. Wright's sermons to the war in Georgia, from candidate gaffes to John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin. While the polls and election fundamentals of the race haven't changed much, the campaign itself seemed to lack a master narrative.
Last week, the frightening financial meltdown on Wall Street re-oriented the campaign and re-wrote the storyline. The crisis was not only the week's top story—marking only the second time this year that an event other than the campaign emerged as the No. 1 topic of the week. It also raised the possibility that a major policy issue, the economy, might emerge as the decisive factor of the campaign.
Last week, certainly, the financial crisis was the top theme in the election coverage itself, accounting for 43% of the campaign newshole for Sept. 15-21, according to the Campaign Coverage Index from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Read the full report The Latest Campaign Narrative--'It's The Economy, Stupid' on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.