below, release PEJ.....
PEJ NEWS COVERAGE INDEX
In Just Two Days, Jackson's Passing Nearly Passes Iran in the News of the Week
With unrest in Iran and a new political scandal, the media had its pick of stories to report on the week of June 22-28. But by week's end, the death of Michael Jackson quickly dominated the media agenda, according to a report by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Early last week, ongoing attention to protests over the Iranian election continued to dominate the news narrative, and by week's end Iran filled 19% of the newshole, making it still the No. 1 topic of the week. But much of that came early. Indeed, in the first two days of the week, nearly a third of all coverage (31%) was devoted to events in the country. But as the protest movement moved underground, and the story became harder to cover, coverage subsided. By Wednesday attention shifted to the third biggest story of the week--the controversy around South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who admitted to an extra-marital affair after having gone missing for several days (11%).
But it was the late Thursday afternoon reports that Michael Jackson had died that captured the essence of the media narrative last week. The passing of the "King of Pop" was the No. 2 story last week, accounting for 18% of the newshole. From the time of the announcement of his death through the end of day Friday, more than 28 hours (60% of news coverage studied) was dedicated to Jackson's passing. Cable news led the coverage, devoting 93% of airtime to the icon on Thursday and Friday. The story captured 55% of online coverage and 37% of front-page newspaper coverage. All other stories vied for attention amidst the biggest celebrity story in a decade.
These findings are part of PEJ's running content analysis of media coverage, called the News Coverage Index, which studies 55 outlets from five media sectors.
Other findings include:
Michael Jackson generated the most headlines last week, appearing as lead newsmaker in 15% of stories. Following Jackson was President Obama (11%); Mark Sanford (8%); Farah Fawcett (1%); Neda Agha-Soltan (1%) and Ed McMahon (1%).
Jackson as lead newsmaker the week of June 22-28 marks only the second time this year that someone other than Obama generated the most headlines in a single week. Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor was the only other person to do so.
Other big stories last week included health care reform, largely centered on Congress negotiating Obama's plan (7%); the ongoing economic crisis, especially troubled banks and effects on state governments (7%) and the tragic red line metro crash in Washington D.C. (5%). The deaths of Farah Fawcett (1%) and Ed McMahon (1%) rounded out the list of top stories last week.
Click here for a direct link to a PDF of the report. The study is for immediate release at our website, www.journalism.org.