Datelines from a Disaster
It has been more than nine weeks since oil began gushing in the Gulf of Mexico, triggering America’s biggest oil spill and an environmental disaster. And in that time period, the story has dominated the mainstream news agenda, topping every other subject. One other element that distinguishes the BP saga coverage is where that reporting is coming from.
The BP Spill Leads the Disaster List
It has been more than eight weeks since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and began leaking enormous amounts of oil into the Gulf or Mexico. In recent weeks, this environmental and economic nightmare has become the mainstream media’s top priority, dominating the news agenda. How does coverage of this tragedy compare to other major disasters?
America’s Longest War Fights for Media Attention
For years, coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan was so modest that it almost seemed to be the forgotten U.S. war. That changed last year when disputed elections in that country and President Obama’s troop surge led to a major spike in media attention. But thus far in 2010, the war is once again falling off the media radar screen.
The Science Gap
A recent PEJ year-long study found that the stories and issues that gain the most traction in blogs often differ substantially from those that lead in the mainstream press. And one of the biggest discrepancies between the two is the amount of interest in science and technology topics.
The Flood the Media Missed
The recent flooding that struck Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky is expected to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. But it occurred in a week when two other stories—the gulf oil spill and the failed Times Square bombing—dominated the news. How does coverage of the Nashville tragedy compare with other recent floods?
How Newsrooms Are Coping with Cutbacks
A recent survey of several hundred journalism executives found that a large majority had experienced cuts in newsroom staffing in the past three years—in many cases losing between 10% and a quarter of their staff. How do they say that shrinking workforce has affected their organization’s ability to function and report the news?
Arizona Puts Immigration in the News
Media coverage of immigration seems more episodic than consistent. The last time the subject generated major sustained news attention was when President George W. Bush unsuccessfully pushed for a reform bill three years ago. But the furor generated by Arizona’s new legislation has established a high-water mark for coverage.
Tragic Accidents in the Headlines
In recent weeks, two disasters—the April 5 West Virginia mine explosion and the April 20 Gulf Coast oil rig fire—ended up making the roster of top stories in PEJ’s News Coverage Index. Here are some other deadly incidents, not caused by natural events, that have generated substantial media attention in the past three years.
Nukes in the News
The large gathering of world leaders in Washington D.C. to discuss controlling the spread of nuclear technology was one of the top stories the week of April 12-19. How does coverage of that diplomatic conference compare to other events that have put the issue of nuclear weaponry on the news agenda?
i-Pad Leads, But Tech News Gets Few Headlines
Technology rarely dominates news in the mainstream media. But recent Apple products have attracted coverage. What types of technology stories generate headlines in the mainstream press? How do they compare to the release of the much-anticipated iPad?