PEJ: Irene Aftermath Tops News Coverage

Economy coverage driven by presidential speech scheduling
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According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's (PEJ) latest News Coverage Index, the aftermath of the hurricane was the top story in the week Aug. 29-Sept. 4, with 20% of the news hole.

Number two was the economy at 16%, followed by Middle East unrest at 10%, the presidential election at 7% and terror threats at 3%.

Aug. 29 saw the most storm coverage, with almost half of the news hole, dropping off "dramatically" toward the end of the week, according to PEJ.

The economy story was actually driven by an event that had not happened: the scheduling of the president's Sept. 8 speech to a joint session of Congress. It was moved from Sept. 7 to avoid a conflict with a Republican presidential candidate debate on MSNBC; then the White House had to assure NBC and others that the speech would end before the kickoff of the NFL season on NBC Sept. 8 at 8:30.

Middle East unrest was down from 26% of the news hole the week before -- the top story that week driven by the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi.

Texas Governor Rick Perry dominated the election coverage, which was up slightly from 5% the week before. The terrorism story was tied to the upcoming tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, including stories about New York City first responders' higher risk of getting cancer and stories about various commemoration activities.

The index is a content analysis of 62 national media outlets from five sectors: print, online, network TV, cable and radio.

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