The press finally found something more compelling to cover than Sarah Palin: “It's the economy, stupid,” according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Each week in its news index, PEJ breaks down the storylines that are filling the nation's news holes, and the results can be quite telling. The week of September 15–21 marked the first time since the Democratic National Convention that campaign coverage had been dominated by a story without Palin as its central character. According to PEJ, the economy sprinted to the top of the pack that week, accounting for 43.3 percent of campaign coverage.
But, “the focus on the economy practically came out of the blue,” despite the fact that our financial woes had been brewing for some time, says PEJ. Take a look at campaign coverage for the week of September 8 – 14:
NPR aired a story this week that may offer some explanation. Media consultant Jeff Jarvis tells David Folkenflik that even the media are overwhelmed by the nature of the news these days. “It’s just too big and too complicated, and it requires both too much background and fundamental understanding about economics,” Jarvis said. Folkenflik writes that the media is struggling to keep up with such huge national developments in the midst of a presidential campaign. “The breakneck pace of developments means a lot of news worth knowing receives the briefest burst of attention before being dropped for something hotter.”
Charts courtesy of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a project of the Pew Research Center. "Top Campaign Storylines of the Week, September 15-21," published September 22. "Top Campaign Storylines of the Week, September 8-14," published September 15.