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PEJ: Cain, Penn State Scandals Top News Hole

Alleged sexual harassment and alleged sexual abuse of children were the top two news stories for the Nov. 7-13 survey period, according to the latest Project for Excellence in Journalism News Coverage Index.

The presidential election was the top story at 24% of the new hole over thenational news outlets surveyed. But rather than being driven by the latest debate, or debate gaffe, that coverage was powered by sexual harrassment allgeations against Republican front-runner Herman Cain, who has flatly denied them. That story accounted for more than half of all campaign coverage, with Cain the leading newsmaker. Cable provided the most coverage at 39% of its news hole.

The second biggest story was the Penn State sex abuse scandal and allegeations against one of the school's former coaches, Jerry Sandusky, who has also denied the charges. It was the biggest sports-related scandal in terms of coverage since PEJ launched the index in 2007. Broadcast networks gave 24% of their news hole to that story, with cable news next at 23%.

The third biggest story of the week was the economic crisis in Europe (13%) and the announced resignation of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, topping the U.S. economy, which was the number-four biggest story at 8% of the news hole, its smallest percentage since August.

Coverage of the November elections was the fifth biggest story at 7%, with particular attention on an Ohio vote to strike down a measure limiting unions and a Mississippi vote not to declare a fertilized egg a person.

The survey was of 52 national news outlets in online, network TV, cable, radio and print.