Media agrees on top stories, then follow their own noses


Newspaper, online, network television, cable television and radio news departments agreed: The top two stories during the week of 8/9-15-10 were the 2010 elections and the economy, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. But buried beneath the overall top 10 stories were significant chunks of attention that applied to only one of the five media.

The plane crash that claimed the life of former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) was the third story of the week, but in an atypical week, it didn’t even make the radio top ten list and grabbed only 5% of the total news hole.

Idiosyncratic stories abounded, however, on individual medium top ten lists. Newspapers, and newspapers alone, gave the education system 5% coverage; likewise, online sources gave 5% coverage to both the death of former congressman Dan Rostenkowski and the capture of the Flint MI serial killer; network TV, rather than online, was focused on cyberspace issues to the tune of 5%; cable was alone in devoting attention to the Tea Party movement, with a modest 2%; and radio found a certain amount of interest in the situation in Russia, giving it 3% of available air time.

Story Overall Newspaper Online NetTV CATV Radio
2010 elections 15% 13% 11% 11% 18% 25%
Economy 12% 10% 12% 12% 14% 15%
Ted Stevens plane crash 5% 5% 5% 8% 6% x
Immigration 4% x 3% x 10% 4%
Oil spill 3% x 6% 4% 3% 3%
Obama administration 3% x 3% x 6% 6%
Afghanistan 3% x 6% x x 3%
Steven Slater 3% 3% 4% 5% x x
Congressional corruption 2% 3% x x 3% x
September 11 news 2% x x 4% x 8%
Education system x 5% x x x x
Global warming x 3% x x x x
Gates/military spending x 3% x 3% x x
Yemen x 3% x x x x
War on Terror x 3% x x x x
Dan Rostenkowski dies x x 5% x x x
Flint MI serial killer x x 5% x x x
Cyberspace issues x x x 5% x x
Escaped AZ convicts x x x 4% 2% x
Pakistan x x x 3% 2% x
Tea Party movement x x x x 2% x
Russia x x x x x 3%
Same-sex marriage debate x x x x x 2%
Iran x x x x x 2%
Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism