Coverage adds up to a Mideast focus


Iraq, pretty much as usual, was the leading topic in the news during the week of 5/20-25/07 if you add up the various permutations of coverage as tabulated by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. But in the absence of any one big story, coverage was scattered in a number of directions. The Iraq policy debate nosed out Immigration on the PEJ overall list, with both getting about 10% of the newshole. However, the conflicted Mideast really did manage to dominate the overall news picture for the week. Add in two other Iraq slants (events and homefront) and the total Iraq rises to 21%, and add in coverage of Lebanon and Iran and the Mideast total clocks in at 30%.

The immigration story was fueled by compromise legislation in Washington which managed to draw fire from both the liberal and the conservative wings of Congress. The 2008 campaign took a back seat to all of this, weighing in at only 6%. The biggest story to disappear from the overall top 10 list was the passing of Jerry Falwell. It was also the second week in a row during which the top ten list, if not the nation as a whole, enjoyed blessed relief from any severe weather stories. There were, however, an unusual number of stories receiving top 10 attention from one, and only one medium, and two were on the overall top ten list. Newspaper alone drove the Iraq homefront story and radio alone drove coverage of a Pew report on Muslim Americans. 12 additional stories showed up on only one list apiece.