The News Interest Index is an ongoing project of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press which builds on the Center's longstanding research into public attentiveness to major news stories and examines news interest as it relates to the news media's agenda.

Dec. 19, 2007

Gas Prices, Disasters Top Public’s News Interests In 2007

Summary of Findings Man-made and natural disasters dominated the list of the public’s top news stories in 2007. Nearly half of Americans (45%) tracked news about the shootings of 33 students at Virginia Tech University very closely, while nearly as many paid very close attention to reports on the Minneapolis bridge collapse and the California […]

Dec. 13, 2007

Oprah Boosts Obama’s Visibility

Summary of Findings Oprah Winfrey’s well-publicized appearances with Barack Obama have raised Obama’s visibility, especially among African Americans. Roughly a quarter of Americans (26%) say they have heard more about Obama recently than any other presidential candidate, up from just 10% in November. Meanwhile, though Hillary Clinton remains the most visible candidate overall, the proportion […]

Dec. 5, 2007

Public Still Getting to Know Leading GOP Candidates

Summary of Findings Even as the 2008 presidential campaign draws increasing news coverage, the public shows limited awareness of the personal backgrounds of some of the top GOP candidates. While 86% of the public is able to name Rudy Giuliani as the former mayor of New York City, only about half as many — 42% […]

Nov. 21, 2007

Public’s News Interests: Campaign, War and Returning Troops

Summary of Findings While the national news media focused heavily on the 2008 presidential campaign last week, the public divided its interest between the campaign and the Iraq war. More than one-fifth of the national newshole (21%) was devoted to the presidential campaign, while news about the war — including the situation in Iraq, returning […]

Nov. 15, 2007

Widespread Interest in Rising Oil Prices

Summary of Findings While the press focused heavily on the political turmoil in Pakistan last week, the public was interested in other things. The three news stories the public followed most closely last week, rising oil prices, the Iraq war and the recall of Chinese-made toys, received relatively little press coverage. The public’s top story […]

Nov. 9, 2007

Iraq News: Less Dominant, Still Important

Summary of Findings News about the Iraq war does not dominate the public’s consciousness nearly as much as it did last winter. Currently, just 16% of Americans name the Iraq war as the news story that first comes to mind when asked what has been in the news lately. In December and January, a period […]

Nov. 8, 2007

Heavy Campaign Coverage Draws Large Audience

Summary of Findings The 2008 presidential campaign dominated the national news last week, driven in large part by the lively Democratic debate in Philadelphia. Public interest in the campaign was up somewhat from previous weeks with 27% of Americans paying very close attention to campaign news. More than one-in-five named the campaign as the single […]

Nov. 1, 2007

California Wildfires Draw Large Audience

Summary of Findings The California wildfires overshadowed all other news stories last week both in terms of public interest and news coverage. Four-in-ten Americans followed news about the fires very closely, making it the fourth most closely followed news story of the year. The only stories that have attracted a larger audience this year were […]

Oct. 25, 2007

Public Tunes out Ellen DeGeneres Controversy

Summary of Findings News about the dangers of an antibiotic-resistant staph infection (MRSA) caught the public’s attention last week. More than a quarter of Americans paid very close attention to this story and 18% listed it as the single news story they followed more closely than any other — placing it at the top of […]

Oct. 23, 2007

Modest Interest in 2008 Campaign News

Summary of Findings The 2008 presidential campaign began much earlier than usual, but public interest in the campaign is at most only modestly higher than in previous campaigns. While Democrats are following the campaign more closely than at the same stage in previous primary contests, Republicans are no more engaged than in the past, resulting […]

Oct. 18, 2007

Cleveland High School Shooting Attracts Small Audience

Summary of Findings In the news last week, no single story captured the interest of the American public. The war in Iraq was the most closely followed news story — 26% of the public followed news of the war very closely and 20% listed this as their most closely followed story. The shooting at a […]

Oct. 12, 2007

Too Much Celebrity News, Too Little Good News

Summary of Findings When asked about which issues, if any, get too much attention from the news media, fully 40% of the public cites celebrity news. That is more than three times the number citing any other subject. About one-in-ten Americans (12%) say the news media has devoted too much attention to the Iraq war, […]

Oct. 4, 2007

Ahmadinejad Visit Draws Large Audience

Summary of Findings Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the U.S. drew a large news audience last week. Aside from the Iraq war it was the most closely followed news story, with 23% of the public following the story very closely, and 14% listing it as the single news story they followed most closely. Ahmadinejad’s […]

Sep. 27, 2007

Modest Interest in O.J. Simpson Arrest

Summary of Findings O.J. Simpson’s recent arrest on robbery and assault charges was the most heavily covered news story last week. Yet public interest in the Simpson case was fairly modest. Overall, just 13% of Americans say they followed reports about Simpson’s arrest very closely, while 17% listed it as the single story they followed […]

Sep. 20, 2007

The Oprah Factor and Campaign 2008

Summary of Findings Hillary Clinton continues to lead Barack Obama by a wide margin in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But Obama has something Clinton doesn’t have — the support of Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey endorsed Obama in May of this year and recently held a fundraiser for him at her Malibu, Calif. home. […]

Sep. 13, 2007

GOP Candidates Draw Coverage, But Clinton Still Most Visible

Summary of Findings The 2008 presidential campaign was once again a big story last week with most news coverage devoted to the Republican presidential candidates. While media coverage focused primarily on Republicans, the public directed most of its attention to the Democratic contenders. When asked which candidate they have heard the most about in the […]

Aug. 28, 2007

Michael Vick Case Draws Large Audience

Summary of Findings Michael Vick’s legal troubles attracted a large news audience last week. One-in-four Americans followed the Vick story very closely and 18% said it was the single news story they followed more closely than any other. Overall, the public believes Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback, has been treated fairly by the press, but […]

Aug. 23, 2007

Utah Miners Top News Interest

Summary of Findings For the second week in a row, the plight of six miners trapped in a Utah mine dominated public interest. Though coverage of the miners fell off significantly from the previous week, 32% of the public paid very close attention to the story and roughly the same proportion (34%) said this was […]

Aug. 16, 2007

Few Interested in Bonds’ Home Run Record

Summary of Findings While Barry Bonds’ 756th career home run broke one of baseball’s long standing records, it was a non-event for many Americans. Just 12% followed the story very closely, while a 42% plurality did not follow the story at all closely. Bonds’ record received significantly less public attention than the last home run […]

Aug. 9, 2007

Broad Interest in Bridge Disaster, Good Marks for Coverage

Summary of Findings The bridge collapse in Minneapolis that killed five people and raised concerns about infrastructure safety nationwide surpassed all other news stories last week both in public interest and media coverage. Nearly half (48%) say this was the story they followed most closely last week, far exceeding interest in Iraq, the week’s next […]