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PEJ: Debt Debate Dominates News Coverage

Coverage by major national media of the debt ceiling showdown topped the amount of ink and ions devoted to the September 2008 meltdown of the Stock Market, according to the latest Project for Excellence in Journalism News Coverage Index, for the week of July 25-31.

The economy comprised 52% of the news hole, almost all of it focused on the congressional debate over raising the debt ceiling. Cable news focused most on the story, with 75% of its news hole, but that was less than cable and radio talk shows, which gave over 90% of their time.

The second-biggest story was the follow-up to the Norway shooting and explosion focusing on the alleged mass murderer at 8% of the news hole, followed by the Mexican drug war, Afghanistan, and the NFL lockout resolution, all 2%.

That was the economy's second-biggest share of the news budget in PEJ News Index recorded history (the index was launched in January 2007), second only to the 53% for the March 20009 revelations that bailed-out insurance company AIG had paid millions in company bonuses with some of that money.

The News Corp. phone hacking scandal, which had been in the top three in terms of news coverage in the previous three surveys, was no longer on radar.

The index is based on content analysis of 52 national media outlets in five sectors, print, online, network TV, cable and radio