June 11, 2009

Obama Abroad – When Does It Make News?

G-20 Summit Europe Trip Mar 30-Apr 5, 09 21
Middle East and Europe Jun 1-7, 09 20
Iraq, Israel and Germany Jul 21-27, 08 19
Summit of Americas Apr 13-19, 08 6
Trip to Afghanistan Jul 14-20, 08 6
Chavez Handshake Reaction Apr 20-26, 08 3

#2 – Rank of Obama’s latest Mideast trip among his overseas tours

For the week of June 1-7, Barack Obama’s international travels—which included stops in the Mideast and Europe and a major speech to the Muslim world—were a big newsmaker. The story topped the news agenda, accounting for 20% of the newshole—even in a busy week that also included the bankruptcy of General Motors, a major air disaster and the shooting of an abortion doctor.  

Last week’s trip fell just short of generating the most coverage for any Obama overseas mission. His attendance at the G-20 Summit—where he pushed for a global stimulus and met with officials ranging from Queen Elizabeth to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev—filled 21% of the newshole and was the No.1 story from March 30 – April 5, 2009

Several other Obama overseas events in his first few months in office generated far less attention. His meeting with Mexican President Philippe Calderon and the Summit of the Americas, which took place in Trinidad and Tobago, filled 6% of the newshole from April 13-19. One week later (April 20-26), the reaction to Obama’s handshake at that summit with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez filled another 3% of the newshole.

The media also devoted significant attention to several of Obama’s travels in 2008 when he was campaigning for president. From July 14-20, 2008, news and speculation about his visit to Afghanistan accounted for 6% of the newshole. And the following week (July 21-27), coverage of the tour that included stops in Iraq, Jordan and Israel and a speech in Germany that attracted an estimated crowd of 200,000 consumed 19% of the newshole.

Pictures of the throng that turned out for Obama in Berlin were widely disseminated in the U.S. media. And it was in the wake of that event that John McCain’s campaign released the now famous ad describing Obama as “the biggest celebrity in the world” while images of tabloid favorites Britney Spears and Paris Hilton appeared on the screen.