When the campaign was finally over, the media almost immediately viewed Barack Obama's victory as a transformational event, and a subject that had been in some ways taboo moved front and center—race.
“Obama Overcomes,” observed the Tuscaloosa Alabama News. “Dream Realized,” said the Brockton Massachusetts Enterprise. “Race is History,” emphatically declared the Beaumont Texas Enterprise.
Another common theme in the torrent of analysis and reporting that followed Obama's win over John McCain Nov. 4 was disarray in a Republican Party with a damaged brand and diminished base. And that seemed to be epitomized nowhere more clearly than in the widely publicized comments belittling Sarah Palin, attributed to anonymous McCain aides, and the subsequent counterattack by Palin.
While some commentary and reporting also suggested the nation was on the cusp of a major political realignment, the media verdict on that was more mixed.
And one other major storyline emerged in the media last week. With the political press corps still fully mobilized and a deepening economic crisis, the narrative pivoted instantly to speculation about the personalities and policies that would drive the new Obama administration. Within a day, the transition from one Presidential era to another was in full swing.
These are among the findings of the weekly News Coverage Index, a comprehensive analysis of the press coverage the week of Nov. 3-9 from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Read the full report In Election Week, Media Pivots from Race to Rahm on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.