Rift in Sherrod coverage puts economy into the new top slot


On an overall basis, the score news directors gave to top stories during the week of 7/19-25/10 was economic crisis 17%, Shirley Sherrod 14%, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. But underneath that was a range in which the Sherrod saga dominated cable with 33% of its time, while barely making the newspaper top ten list with only 3%.

The ongoing tale of the Gulf oil spill rounded out the top three, and was the only other story in double digits on the overall coverage chart with 12%.

Cable was the only medium elevating Sherrod’s tale to #1, and in addition to being the only one that did not rate the economy #1, it was also the only one to keep economic coverage under 10% (it came in just under that).

An unusual feature of the week was the fact that each of the five media PEJ tracks had at least one story unique to itself in its individual top 10 coverage. For newspapers, it was education, or taxes, or the Supreme Court; online had the Kagan nomination, or the Barefoot Bandit; network TV went for cyberspace issues; cable focused on the Tea Party; and radio paid attention to gays in the military, or Iran.

Stories Overall Newspaper Online NetTV CATV Radio
Economic crisis 17% 19% 17% 17% 9% 24%
Shirley Sherrod 14% 3% 9% 15% 33% 6%
Oil spill 12% 9% 12% 17% 13% 12%
Domestic terrorism 7% 17% 6% 6% 3% x
2010 elections 4% 7% x 4% 4% 8%
Immigration 4% 5% 4% 3% 3% 2%
Afghanistan 3% 3% 2% 5% x 4%
Lockerbie bomber released 2% x 2% 4% x x
North Korea 1% x 4% x 2% 2%
Congressional scandals 1% x x x 2% 2%
Education x 3% x x x x
Taxes x 2% x x x x
Supreme Court x 2% x x x x
Kagan nomination x x 3% x x x
Barefoot Bandit x x 2% x x x
Cyberspace issues x x x 3% x x
Obama administration x x x 3% 2% x
Tea Party movement x x x x 3% x
Gays in the military x x x x x 3%
Iran x x x x x 2%
Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism