The state of the U.S. economy, driven by the political battle over how to regulate Wall Street, dominated the news last week to an extent not seen in more than a year.
The media devoted 27% of the newshole to the economy during the week of April 19-25, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, up from 16% the previous week. That represents the most coverage of that subject since the week of March 23-29, 2009, when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled a plan to clean up “toxic assets” in banks and economic news represented 43% of the newshole.
More than three-quarters of last week's economic coverage focused on the financial sector, including the legislative reform efforts as well as allegations of fraud and profiteering involving blue-chip investment banker Goldman Sachs.
As the volcanic ash that shut down air travel for much of Europe dissipated, the subject was the No. 2 story, accounting for 11% of the newshole. That was followed, at 5%, by the April 20 fire and eventual sinking of an off-shore oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico which left 11 workers missing and spilled thousands of gallons of crude.
The fourth-biggest story was the controversy over the enactment of a strict immigration law in Arizona (4%) that supporters see as a public safety issue and critics fear will result in racial profiling. Stories related to the 2010 elections were No. 5, at 3%, with coverage including John McCain's tough Senate primary in Arizona and speculation about whether Florida Governor Charlie Crist would run for Senate as an independent or Republican.
Read the full report Economic News Hits a 13-Month High on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.