Public Now More Focused on Egypt, but Coverage Far Surpasses Interest
The public’s interest in news about the massive anti-government protests in Egypt surged last week, but did not keep pace with the growth in media coverage. About as many Americans (26%) say the story they followed most closely was the powerful winter storm system that hit the Midwest and the Northeast, a story that accounted for just 8% of news coverage.
Limited Public Interest in Egyptian Protests
The extraordinary anti-government protests in Egypt have drawn much more attention from the news media than from the American public. But interest is in line with other overseas protests in recent years.
Despite Media Coverage, Few Interested in Hu’s Visit
With continued interest in the tragic events in Tucson, the public made little time for other well-covered news stories. There was minimal interest in Chinese President Hu Jintao much debated visit, and half heard nothing about the celebrated bipartisan seating arrangements at the State of the Union.
Fallout from Arizona Shootings Tops Hu Visit
Unlike past tragedies, such as the Virginia Tech shootings, the events in Arizona stayed squarely on the news agenda thanks to the prominence of Rep. Giffords and the many political angles; the visit by China’s premier ran a distant second.
Watching Obama’s State of the Union
Most Americans say they plan to watch President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. Still, a sizable majority sees the speech to Congress as no more important than in previous years.
Bipartisan Praise for Obama Memorial Speech
Among those who heard at least a little about President Obama’s speech at a memorial service at the University of Arizona, 69% said the address was either excellent or good. By contrast, the response to Sarah Palin’s comments about the shootings proved more mixed.
Fewer Hearing “Mostly Bad” Economic News
Americans hearing mostly bad news about the economy has dropped to its lowest point since the financial collapse. Republicans, in particular, are much less likely to say they are hearing mostly bad economic news than they were a month ago.
Press Coverage and Public Interest
The public tended to maintain its interest in major breaking news stories considerably longer than the press did. And the press tended to maintain substantially more interest in Washington Beltway controversies than did its audience.
Public’s Top Stories of the Decade — 9/11 and Katrina
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 drew more public interest than any other story in the past decade. The 2005 hurricanes in the Gulf, high gasoline prices and the collapse of the economy in 2008 also grabbed overwhelming public attention.
Top Stories of 2010: Haiti Earthquake, Gulf Oil Spill
Two major disasters captured the public’s attention more than any other major stories in 2010, but Americans also kept a consistent eye on the nation’s struggling economy.