PEJ News Coverage Index: Sept. 14 - 20, 2009, Health Care Tops the News and Race Resurfaces as an Issue

PEJ News Coverage Index: Sept. 14 - 20, 2009, Health Care Tops the News and Race Resurfaces as an Issue

On the week when a key Senate Democrat unveiled a long-awaited bill, the battle over health care reform was the No. 1 story—the eighth time in nine weeks that issue has topped the news agenda.

The health care debate, fueled by Senator Max Baucus' proposal, accounted for 17% of the newshole the week of September 14-20, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. While that is a significant drop from the previous week (32%), when Barack Obama's prime-time speech drove the coverage, the subject was particularly dominant in the media sectors that feature talk shows, radio (31%) and cable (28%), according to PEJ's weekly News Coverage Index.

But another storyline, one simmering since the summer's boisterous town hall health care showdowns, emerged in the media narrative last week in a substantial way. It was the sensitive and politically thorny issue of whether race is a factor in some opposition to Obama and his policies. A series of recent events—the September 12 Tea Party protests, Congressman Joe Wilson heckling Obama during his September 9 speech and ex-President Jimmy Carter's assertion last week that race motivates some Obama detractors—triggered a press examination of what is often called the “third rail” of American politics.

Read the full report Health Care Tops the News and Race Resurfaces as an Issue on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.