January 19, 2012

Economy Fades as Election Intensifies

Economy Campaign Middle East Unrest European Economy
Aug 26 9 11.5 1.7
Sep 21 13 4.7 2.9
Oct 2011 21 19 6.7 2.8
Nov 18 20 5.9 6.9
Dec* 17 23 3.7 3.8
Jan 2012 7 46 1.8 1.5

80% – Drop in Economy coverage from July 2011 to January 2012

The weakening economy was the biggest story in the media in 2011, accounting for one-fifth of the entire newshole, a jump from the year before. The race for the presidency accounted for about half that much, 9% (go to the 2011 interactive).

Towards the end of 2011 and into 2012, attention to those two issues crossed.

The campaign overtook the economy in November (economy coverage accounted for 18% and campaign accounted for 20%), when allegations about sexual harassment by Herman Cain became a major subject. Coverage of the campaign has only gained steam since. Thus far in 2012, the campaign has accounted for nearly half, 46%, of the newshole according to PEJ’s News Coverage Index.

Much of that coverage has come in place of attention that was being paid to the economy.

From July 2011 to January 2012, the level of attention paid to the state of the economy has dropped by 80%. And that drop mirrors the increase in political coverage.

While some of the election coverage has focused on candidates’ plans for the economy, that coverage is different, and as a component of all political coverage it doesn’t come close to the decline in economic reporting.

Tricia Sartor of PEJ