News Interest Index: Gas Prices Grab the Public's Attention

The rising price of gasoline replaced the Iraq war last week as the public's most closely followed news story. More than half of the public (52%) paid very close attention to news about gas prices, and 27% said this was the single news story they followed more closely than any other. By comparison, 33% followed the situation in Iraq very closely, and 23% listed Iraq as their top news story of the week.

Historically, rising gas prices have attracted broad public interest. A year ago, even more Americans (69%) followed news about gas prices very closely. This past week, interest in gas prices outstripped media coverage of the issue by a wide margin. The national news media devoted 4% of its coverage to gasoline prices, making it the sixth most heavily covered news story of the week.

The public's interest in gas prices goes beyond just knowing where to find the cheapest gallon of gas. A plurality of Americans (40%) say they are interested in learning about why gas prices are fluctuating nationally, while 30% want to hear about how rising gas prices are impacting the nation's economy. Only about a quarter (24%) say they are mainly interested in knowing the price of gas in their area.

Read the full article "Gas Prices Grab the Public's Attention" at the Pew Research Center Web site.

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