A volley of primaries put the mid-term elections in the media foreground last week. At the same time, two sobering assessments—one of post-Katrina New Orleans and the other of the nation's economy—followed close behind in a week where no story clearly dominated the news. And the controversy surrounding the New York Islamic center and a massive egg recall were also among the top stories.
Primary elections in five states—with at least one surprise outcome—made politics and the mid-term elections the No. 1 story for the week of August 23-29, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. At 14% of the newshole, it was the second time in three weeks that the mid-terms were the top story in PEJ's weekly News Coverage Index, which analyzes the media agenda of the mainstream press. Much of the debate centered on the advantages of insider versus outsider candidates, but by the week's end, pundits were left with a challenge to the conventional wisdom.
Last week was also the five-year anniversary of the arrival of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico, and many media outlets sent personnel to New Orleans to assess the progress of the region's recovery. The story was No. 2 for the week, accounting for 11% of the newshole studied.
The third-biggest story of the week was the state of the U.S. economy. Last week, a series of dismal economic reports seemed to confirm worries that the recovery had slowed to nearly a halt. Coverage of these, the reaction of the stock market, and the Federal Reserve chief's speech signaling that the Fed was prepared to act to stimulate the economy if necessary, made up another 9% of the newshole studied.
Read the full report, Elections, Katrina and Economy Split the News Agenda on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.