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PEJ: Domestic News Retakes Spotlight

Even as the Middle East unrest was spreading from Egypt to Bahrain and Libya, coverage of that protest-filled region
fell by almost half and domestic policy took center stage in national news coverage for the first time in a couple of
months. Only CNN among the cable news outlets kept the unrest in the Middle East (and North Africa) atop its coverage.

That is according to Project for Excellence in Journalism's news coverage index for Feb. 14-20. The economy took up 35% of the news hole over that time period, compared to Middle East unrest, which occupied 22%, down from 40% the week before and 56% the week before that, as the world watched the unseating of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The economic news was driven by two stories from two capitals, Washington and the Wisconsin state capital of Madison.

In Washington the battle was over the president's new, multi-trillion-dollar budget, and the Republican continuing
resolution budget cuts, while the Madison story dealt with a budget-cutting/collective bargaining threatening stand-
off between state union workers and the Republican governor.

Among cable news nets, CNN continued to devote the largest portion of its airtime to the protests, however. While the economy was the biggest story on Fox with more than a third devoted to it, and more than half on MSNBC, 40% of CNN's coverage was still devoted to the Middle East. CNN continued to spotlight that international coverage Wednesday outlining its continuing coverage of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Yemen as protests continued or escalated in the Middle East and North Africa.

The PEJ News Coverage Index looks at 52 outlets in five national media sectors, print, online, network TV, cable and
national radio.