Plane Crash Draws as Much Interest as Economy
Among domestic airline and train accidents of recent years, only one — the deadly crash of TWA flight 800 off the coast of New York in 1996 — attracted significantly greater public interest than the dramatic emergency landing of US Airways flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River.
Obama Cabinet Appointees Highly Visible
Much of the increased awareness of the president-elect’s high-level personnel selections has to do with his choice of Hillary Clinton to serve as secretary of state.
Mideast Competes With Economy and Obama for Public Interest
Public interest in the Middle East conflict is on par with other recent foreign news stories, but is lower than in the Israel-Hezbollah war in August 2006. A slightly greater percentage say the media have not been critical enough of Hamas than say the same about coverage of Israel (30% vs. 25%, respectively).
Internet Overtakes Newspapers as News Outlet
The internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as a main source for national and international news. While the 2008 presidential campaign attracted high levels of public attention, the economy was the top story of the year in terms of news interest, according to Pew’s Weekly News Interest Index. In late September, as the nation’s financial crisis deepened, 70% said they were following news about the economy very closely. That ranks among the highest levels of news interest for any story in the past two decades.
Blagojevich Arrest Grabs Public Attention
Only the congressional check bouncing scandal of 1992 — in which members of Congress were investigated for overdrawing their office checking accounts — and the initial Clinton-Lewinsky allegations in 1998 rated higher in terms of public interest than the Blagojevich bribery charges.
Good News for the Administration
A majority of Americans says news stories about the incoming administration are mostly positive. Republicans are hearing more mixed reports.
Watching the White House Take Shape
The economy is still No. 1 in news interest, but Americans are also paying close attention to Obama’s cabinet and staff selections. While less attention has been paid to personal matters — like the first family’s new puppy — news about Michelle Obama is now seen by the public as mostly positive, a sharp contrast to the perceived negativity over the summer.
Detroit’s Troubles Driving Attention to Economy, Bailout Opposition Rises
With the presidential election behind them, Americans have turned their attention back to the nation’s economy, though nearly half say they feel angry when seeing or hearing such reports.
Few Will Miss Campaign News
The 2008 campaign set records for interest and will long be remembered (in fact, 23% of Americans are saving a post-election newspaper), but fully 82% of Americans will have no problem taking election news out of their lives. Also, Bill O’Reilly comes in as American’s favorite — and least favorite — campaign commentator.
Election Weekend News Interest Hits 20-Year High
Fully 60% of voters followed campaign news very closely this weekend, the highest level of interest on the eve of an election since the Pew Research Center began tracking campaign news interest in 1988. Throughout the campaign, Americans said they were hearing more about Obama than about McCain, although analysis shows news coverage became closely balanced between the two candidates.