Journalists expand their attention span


It was ever so slight a change, but for the first time in quite awhile, it took a 2% share of available news time and space for a story to make the Project for Excellence in Journalism overall top ten list. The election still dominated the list during the week of 2/25/08-3/2/08, but it’s share was down to 38%, from 44% the week before, making just enough room to allow the broader scope featured during the week. The economy reclaimed its #2 ranking in the absence of any major one-time tragedy/disaster stories. PEJ breaks ongoing Iraq coverage into three general story types: Events in Iraq, the Iraq debate and Iraq homefront.

Throughout most of 2007, the combined totals of these three categories could be counted on to dominate, lead or have a strong presence on the list. This week continued a trend where they are barely visible.

Despite the fact that foreign events accounted for five headings, only one involved Iraq, and it claimed a mere 3% share. And instead of violence, it was the violins of the New York Philharmonic managed to bestow a 2% share on North Korea.

Story Overall Newspr Online NetTV CATV Radio
2008 campaign 38% 22% 26% 37% 59% 44%
US economy 7% 11% 7% 9% 2% 5%
Afghanistan 3% x 7% 5% 4% x
Iraq events 3% x 11% x 2% 2%
Oscars 3% x 8% 2% x 5%
Buckley passes 3% 6% x x x 6%
North Korea 2% 2% 6% 3% 1% x
Pakistan 2% 3% 3% 2% x 2%
FL power outage 2% x x 1% 4% x
Russia 2% 3% x 3% x 1%
Pew religion study x 4% x x x x
Gas/oil prices x 3% x x x x
Cuba x 3% x 2% x x
Israel/Palestine x 3% x x x x
Global warming x x 3% x x x
Microsoft 1.3B EU fine x x 3% x x x
Airline passenger dies x x 2% 1% x x
Bobby Cutts trial x x x x 5% x
Toxin in Vegas hotel x x x x 5% x
Immigration x x x x 2% x
Chicago mall explosion x x x x 1% x
Energy debate x x x x x 4%
Health care debate x x x x x 3%
Baseball steroids x x x x x 1%

Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism