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. 20, 2009

Health Care Reform Closely Followed, Much Discussed

Summary of Findings Public interest in health care reform shows no signs of slackening, with news about the debate continuing to top the public’s news agenda. Fully 46% name health care as the story they followed more closely than any other last week – double the percentage who named the week’s second most closely followed […]

Aug. 12, 2009

News About Economy Seen as Less Dire, More Hopeful

Summary of Findings News about the economy and the debate over health care reform continue to dominate public attention. A growing proportion of Americans say they are hearing mostly good news about the economy, while the percentage saying the news is mostly bad has fallen since July. On health care, protests at contentious town hall […]

Aug. 6, 2009

Many Fault Media Coverage of Health Care Debate

Summary of Findings As the fight in Washington over health care reform continues to dominate public attention and media coverage, most Americans are critical of the way news organizations are explaining key elements of the debate. News about proposed health care legislation was the most closely followed story of last week, just as it had […]

Jul. 30, 2009

Health Care Front-And-Center on Public’s News Agenda

Summary of Findings The public sharpened its focus on health care reform last week, following news about the debate in Washington more closely than any other story. Interest in health care reform has steadily increased in recent weeks as coverage – including a prime-time presidential news conference – has intensified. Nearly a third (31%) name […]

Jul. 22, 2009

Health Care: Important, Interesting, But Hard to Follow

Summary of Findings The debate over revamping the nation’s health care system is drawing increased public attention. A third (33%) say they are following the health care debate very closely, up from 24% the previous week. And while news coverage of health care also increased over the past week, a sizable minority of Americans (45%) […]

Jul. 15, 2009

Americans Remained Focused on Michael Jackson

Summary of Findings The death of pop star Michael Jackson continued to grab public attention last week, with Americans saying it was the story they followed most closely for the third straight week. Moreover, Jackson’s death was by far the week’s most talked about news story. About three-in-ten (29%) say they followed Jackson’s memorial service […]

Jul. 8, 2009

Public Hearing More Negative News About Economy

Summary of Findings From January through May, a growing proportion of Americans said they were hearing a mix of good and bad news about the economy. More recently, however, there has been a steady increase in the share saying that the economic news is mostly bad. Currently, 41% say they are hearing mostly bad news […]

Jul. 1, 2009

Coverage of Jackson’s Death Seen As Excessive

Summary of Findings The public closely tracked the sudden death of pop superstar Michael Jackson last week, though nearly two-in-three Americans say news organizations gave too much coverage to the story. At the same time, half say the media struck the right balance between reporting on Jackson’s musical legacy and the problems in his personal […]

Jun. 24, 2009

Strong Public Interest in Iranian Election Protests

Summary of Findings The dramatic events in Iran last week captured the attention of both the public and the media as Americans tracked news about post-election protests in Tehran nearly as closely as they followed news about the troubled U.S. economy. Two-in-ten say they followed news about the street protests over disputed election results – […]

Jun. 17, 2009

Employment News Seen As Overwhelmingly Bad

Summary of Findings Americans by a wide margin say they are hearing mostly negative news about the nation’s job situation, though they are more likely to sense a mix of good and bad news about other elements of the economy. With the jobless rate climbing, seven-in-ten (71%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about […]

Jun. 11, 2009

Week’s Major News Stories Draw Different Audiences

Summary of Findings Americans divided their attention among several major stories last week as President Obama reached out to the Muslim world in a major speech, a jetliner crashed into the Atlantic Ocean and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. At the same time, they continued to keep a close watch on news about the […]

Jun. 4, 2009

First Impressions of Sotomayor Mostly Positive

Summary of Findings Americans who have learned at least a little about Judge Sonia Sotomayor are more likely to offer traits or aspects they like about President Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee than things they do not like about the federal appellate court judge from New York. Asked if there was anything they have learned […]

May. 28, 2009

Public Tracks Economy, Media Focuses on Terror Debate

Summary of Findings Americans continued to closely track news about the struggling economy and the spread of the swine flu last week, though the media devoted the largest share of coverage to the sharp debate in Washington over how best to protect the nation from terrorism. About a quarter of the public (24%) says they […]

May. 20, 2009

Public Stays Focused on the Economy

Summary of Findings Americans followed reports about the U.S. economy more closely than other major stories last week as President Obama pushed for new restrictions on the credit card industry and automakers announced plans to cut ties with some 1,900 dealerships nationwide. More than four-in-ten (44%) say they followed economic news very closely, according to […]

May. 13, 2009

Public Sees News About Economy Less Glum

Summary of Findings Most Americans say they are hearing a mix of good and bad news about the U.S. economy, a stark change from the start of the year when a sizable majority said they were hearing mostly bad economic news. The latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted May 8-11 by the Pew Research […]

May. 6, 2009

Local TV A Top Source For Swine Flu News

Summary of Findings Americans tracked news about the fast-moving swine flu virus more closely than any other story last week, with most turning to television for details on its spread. Still, when people were asked to name which information source was most useful, the largest share chose the internet. The latest weekly News Interest Index […]

Apr. 29, 2009

Public Sees Too Much Personal Coverage of Obama

Summary of Findings Most Americans say that the news media has devoted too much coverage to Barack Obama’s family and personal life during his first months as president, but the right amount of coverage to his leadership style and his policy proposals. The latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted April 24-27 by the Pew […]

Apr. 22, 2009

Fox News Stands Out as “Too Critical” of Obama

Summary of Findings When Americans are asked to assess television news coverage of Barack Obama, Fox News Channel stands out from other networks for being too critical of the president. Nearly three-in-ten (29%) select Fox when asked which of six broadcast and cable news networks have been too critical of the new Democratic president, a […]

Apr. 15, 2009

Most Now Say News Paints Mixed Economic Picture

Summary of Findings The proportion of Americans saying they are hearing a mix of good and bad news about the economy – rather than mostly bad news – continues to steadily increase. Currently, 56% say they are hearing a mix of good and bad economic news, up from 46% in March and just 19% last […]

Apr. 8, 2009

Obama’s Trip Closely Followed

Summary of Findings Americans tracked President Obama’s first European trip more closely than other major news stories last week and much more closely than George W. Bush’s first year international summit travels in 2001. A quarter say they followed Obama’s trip and meetings with foreign leaders very closely, while 35% say they followed the trip […]