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.

Aug. 6, 2008

Obama Fatigue – 48% Hearing Too Much About Him

Summary of Findings As he has since January, this week, Barack Obama enjoyed much more visibility as far as the public was concerned than did John McCain. By a margin of 76% to 11% respondents in Pew’s weekly News Interest Index survey named Obama over McCain as the candidate they have heard the most about […]

Jul. 31, 2008

Obama’s Trip a Top Campaign Event for Public

Summary of Findings Barack Obama’s weeklong tour of the Middle East and Europe dominated campaign coverage last week, and 90% of the public heard at least something about his travels. Obama’s trip became one of the biggest campaign events thus far, with 62% saying they heard a lot about it. The only campaign development more […]

Jul. 24, 2008

Democrats Highly Critical of New Yorker Cover, Republicans Say It Was Okay

Summary of Findings As Barack Obama prepared for a major international trip last week, a controversial magazine cover here at home drew more public attention. Fully four-in-ten Americans heard a lot about a satirical cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker magazine showing Obama and his wife in the Oval Office — the candidate […]

Jul. 16, 2008

Candidates’ Policy Positions Still Not Widely Known

Summary of Findings While Barack Obama has been the dominant figure in the presidential campaign, both in press coverage and public visibility, most Americans say they do not know very much about his policy positions. Only 40% say they know a lot or a fair amount about his positions on foreign policy; 59% say they […]

Jul. 9, 2008

Interest In Gas Prices Remains High

Summary of Findings The public’s top story last week was the rising price of gasoline. Fully 62% of Americans followed news about gas prices very closely, and four-in-ten said it was the story they followed more closely than any other. Gas prices overshadowed the presidential campaign as the public’s most closely followed story by a […]

Jul. 2, 2008

For Public, Oil Prices and Economic News Overshadow Campaign

Summary of Findings News organizations continued to focus a great deal of attention on the presidential campaign last week, but the public was more interested in news about the rising price of oil and the overall economy. As the price of oil reached a new record, a solid majority (57%) followed news about rising oil […]

Jun. 25, 2008

Interest in Floods Increases, Still Lower than for ’93 Deluge

Summary of Findings As the floods in the Midwest continued to devastate parts of that region, public interest in the story increased moderately last week, but still remained significantly lower than interest in the massive floods that struck the region in 1993. Roughly four-in-ten (39%) followed the floods in the Midwest very closely, up from […]

Jun. 19, 2008

Gas Prices Dominate the Public’s Economic News Agenda

Summary of Findings The public continues to express strong interest in news about the economy. More than four-in-ten (42%) tracked economic news very closely last week, only slightly below the 45% who tracked news about the economy very closely in mid-March, which was a 15-year high. And while several specific economic and financial news stories […]

Jun. 17, 2008

More Hear Negative News About Michelle Obama than Cindy McCain

Summary of Findings. With the major party nominations now settled, the images of the candidates’ wives are coming into sharper focus. While opinions about Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama are mostly positive, Mrs. Obama has emerged as the more high profile and controversial spouse. More Americans have heard a lot about Michelle Obama than Cindy […]

Jun. 11, 2008

Most Americans See a Black Nominee as Important for Country

Summary of Findings A solid majority of Americans say it as at least somewhat important to the country that an African American has won the presidential nomination of a major political party. But there are wide political and racial divisions over the significance of Barack Obama’s history-making achievement. Overall, 36% of the public says it […]

Jun. 5, 2008

Many Say Coverage is Biased in Favor of Obama

Summary of Findings Over the course of the primary campaign season greater numbers heard about controversies associated with Barack Obama than heard about other campaign events. Nonetheless, far more Americans believe that the press coverage has favored Barack Obama than think it has favored Hillary Clinton. Nearly four-in-ten (37%) say that in covering the Democratic […]

May. 28, 2008

Greater Coverage of McCain, But Public Still Focused on Obama

Summary of Findings Despite a significant increase in news coverage of John McCain last week, Barack Obama remained by far the most visible candidate in the eyes of the public. Fully half of the public said Obama was the candidate they had heard the most about in the news recently, while only 8% said they […]

May. 22, 2008

Foreign Disasters Attract Interest Despite Modest Coverage

Summary of Findings The American public expressed strong news interest in the earthquake in China last week even as the news media remained heavily focused on the presidential campaign. In spite of modest coverage of both the earthquake in China and the cyclone that hit Burma, the public had a fairly good sense of the […]

May. 14, 2008

Public Says Press Should Not Declare Obama the Winner

Summary of Findings Barack Obama may be building an insurmountable lead in the Democratic primary race, but the public is sending a strong message to journalists and pundits: It is too early to declare, as some already have, that the race is over. Fully 72% of the public – including comparable percentages of Democrats, Republicans […]

May. 8, 2008

Wright Controversy Top Campaign Event So Far

Summary of Findings The latest round of news about Barack Obama and his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright dominated campaign news coverage last week. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s (PEJ) Campaign Coverage Index, 42% of all campaign coverage last week dealt with the Rev. Wright controversy. Wright’s comments are by far the […]

May. 1, 2008

Democratic Campaign Taking a Toll on Both Obama and Clinton

Summary of Findings Over the past six weeks the intense, and often negative, contest between Obama and Clinton has dominated media coverage of the campaign as well as public attention. And over this period, more Americans have consistently said their views of Obama and Clinton have become less favorable, rather than more favorable, in recent […]

Apr. 24, 2008

More Americans View Campaign As Too Negative

Summary of Findings Interest in what the public perceives as an excessively negative presidential campaign declined in the days leading up to the Pennsylvania primary. Just 29% of Americans say they paid very close attention to news about the presidential campaign last week, the lowest percentage recorded since December 2007. By comparison, 43% said they […]

Apr. 17, 2008

Less News is Good News for McCain

Summary of Findings John McCain’s campaign for president has been flying under the news media’s radar since he sewed up the Republican nomination in early March. In recent weeks, he has received less news coverage – and has been consistently less visible to the public – than either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Nonetheless, far […]

Apr. 10, 2008

Campaign News Interest Dips

Summary of Findings With the presidential campaign in something of a lull, public interest in campaign news has declined. Last week, 33% of the public paid very close attention to campaign news, down from 44% in mid-February. Public interest in the campaign, which had consistently surpassed attentiveness to previous presidential contests, is now comparable to […]

Apr. 3, 2008

Clinton Controversy Heavily Covered but Obama Maintains Visibility Edge

Summary of Findings Hillary Clinton’s retraction of her claim that she came under sniper fire while visiting Bosnia in 1996 was one of the main campaign storylines last week. But the controversy over her statements did not resonate as widely as the furor over statements made by Barack Obama’s pastor earlier in March. Roughly four-in-ten […]