The Meltdown and the Media
|Percent of Newshole||Politics of Bailout||Details of Bailout||Effect on Avg. Americans||Stock Market||Who is to Blame?||Global Economy Affected|
34%—Coverage of the economic crisis related to presidential candidates
On Sept. 15, the Wall Street investment firm of Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. Within days, the Bush administration proposed a $700 billion bailout as the depth and breadth of the economic crisis became apparent. In the six weeks since then, how have various media sectors covered the many aspects of a complicated story? An examination of PEJ’s News Coverage Index from Sept. 15-Oct. 26 suggests that different media are focusing on different narratives.
Two sectors that include a substantial amount of debate and opinion—cable news and talk radio—have paid particular attention to the political aspects of this story. In the Sept.15–Oct. 26 period, 46% of all the airtime examined on talk radio focused on the politics of the federal bailout; cable news was next at 36%. And when it came to assessing blame for the meltdown, 18% of the talk radio newshole was devoted to that topic with cable a fairly distant second at 8%
Coverage of the actual details of the bailout package was pretty evenly scattered among the outlets, but cable, which devoted 15% of its newshole to that subject, was No. 1. Network television news paid the most attention to the impact on average Americans, (13% of the airtime studied.) The affect on the global economy was most extensively covered by news radio outlets (8%). And the wild vacillations of the stock market in that period were most closely monitored in the online sector, which devoted 14% of its newshole to the ups and downs of Dow Jones.
Tricia Sartor and Dana Page of PEJ