American news consumers were more interested in the Casey Anthony verdict than the economy, national debt and the final space shuttle launch put together, and were apparently more interested in the story than news outlets were in giving over their news holes to it.
That is according to the latest News Interest Index from the Pew Research Center.
According to PEW, 37% of respondents said the not guilty verdict was the story they were most interested in, while 17% said the economy, and 14% said the shuttle launch. Only 4% were most closely following the 2012 presidential elections.
Those figures showed a disconnect between coverage and interest when put alongside PEW's Project for Excellence in Journalism News Coverage Index, which found that top national news outlets gave over only 17% of their news hole to the Anthony story, and only 8% to the economy. They actually overdelivered on the deficit and national debt with 17% of the news hole.
Not surprisingly, the surprise verdict in the Anthony case drew a lot of attention on social networking sites. Two-thirds of users said they had heard about that verdict via that route, with 40% saying they had heard a lot about it.
Not surprisingly, respondents see the news about the economy as mostly bad (49%), with only 3% saying it is mostly good. Almost two thirds of Republicans (64%), who are looking to leverage the economy as an election issue, said the economic news was mostly bad, while only 44% of independents and 40% of Democrats saw it that way.
The News coverage index is based on a content analysis July 4-10 from 52 outlets across five media sectors. The interest index was based on a July 7-10 survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,007 adults.