May 24, 2012

When Euro Zone Woes Make the News

% of monthly newshole
Jun 2.1
Jul 2011 0.9
Aug 1.7
Sep 2011 2.9
Oct 2.9
Nov 2011 6.9
Dec 3.6
Jan 2012 1.1
Feb 2
Mar 2012 0.6
Apr 0.7
May 1-20 2012 4.1

No. 5 – Ranking of the European financial crisis among top stories in the past year

With worries mounting over Greece’s possible exit from the European Union, attention to the economic problems in the euro zone accounted for 5% of the newshole last week. That level of attention made Europe’s financial woes the No. 3 story last week and represented the most weekly coverage generated by that subject since December 5-11, 2011.

The impact of Europe’s financial crisis has been felt in the U.S., affecting the stock market and raising economic fears that some analysts believe could impact the 2012 presidential election.  But how much coverage has it received in the U.S. media?  An examination by PEJ largely finds modest coverage, with a few notable spikes, in the past year.

From June 1, 2011-May 20, 2012, the European economic crisis has accounted for 2% of the newshole in U.S. media, making it the No. 5 story overall in that period—trailing  the presidential election (18%), U.S. economic woes (16%), the unrest in the Middle East (6%) and the war in Afghanistan (3%).

In 6 of the 12 months studied, coverage of the euro zone woes accounted for less than 2% of the newshole. But in May 2012, the story began to pick up steam (4% of the newshole) as new anti-austerity leaders gained control of governments in France and Greece.

The other two months in the past year when attention to the economic problems in Europe accounted for at least 4% of the newshole were November (7%) and December (4%) 2011. This rise in coverage followed the euro zone leaders’ decision on October 26 to restructure Greece’s debt to try and ensure the Greek crisis didn’t spread to the rest of the European Union. But this deal sparked worries about the collapse of the Greek government, led to strict austerity measures for Greek citizens and fostered continued unsteadiness in world financial markets. These concerns kept the euro zone in the news through the beginning of 2012.

Coverage trailed off in the beginning of the year, however, not accounting for more than 2% of the newshole in any month until May.

Tricia Sartor of PEJ