News Interest Index: Interest in Economic News Surges

According to the Pew Research Center, interest in news about the U.S. economy skyrocketed last week, with 70% of Americans following economic developments very closely, up from 56% the previous week. Interest in economic news is broadly bipartisan with equal proportions of Republicans, Democrats and independents following news about current economic conditions very closely.

The public also paid close attention to the battle in Washington over a plan to use government funds to stabilize financial markets. That debate melded economic news with closely-followed presidential election coverage, as John McCain briefly suspended his campaign to return to Washington to play a role. As lawmakers and administration officials worked on an ill-fated compromise last weekend, 60% of the public was following developments very closely.

From a historical perspective, interest in news about the economic crisis, while not as high as interest in the Challenger disaster or 9/11, rivals interest in other major news stories of the past 20 years. With 70% of the public now following news about it very closely, the current economic crisis becomes one of the top ten most closely followed news stories in two decades of Pew Research Center news interest surveys.

Read the full report Interest in Economic News Surges on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.

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