Pew: Public Interest Rests with Economy; Limited Attention to, Coverage of Anti-Wall Street Protests

With the public most interested in tracking changes in economic conditions, the recent Wall Street protests have not received much attention--or interest--from people or news organizations. This according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which conducts a weekly survey called the News Interest Index "aimed at gauging the public’s interest in and reaction to major news events."

Over a quarter of respondents (27%) report that their top story last week was the economy. The Wall Street protests came in sixth (7%), also trailing interest in Steve Jobs (14%); the 2012 elections (12%); Amanda Knox (10%); and Afghanistan (8%). Although the percentage of total news coverage dedicated to the economy trailed interest, checking in at only 15%, the amount of coverage on Occupy Wall Street exactly matched news interest, at 7%.

When respondents were asked which news stories they followed very closely last week, the results were similarly slanted toward the economy. 43% say they followed economic news very closely, as compared with only 17% who say the same of Occupy Wall Street protests. Interest in Occupy Wall Street appears especially weak when compared with interest in the Tea Party in April 2009. Only "17% say they are following the current protests very closely, compared with 27% who followed early Tea Party protests very closely." Nor is there the same partisan disparity as there was with regard to the Tea Party. Back in April 2009, 43% of Republicans followed the Tea Party news very closely, compared with only 18% of Democrats. But interest in Occupy Wall Street is low across all partisan groups, with only 12% of Republicans; 17% of Democrats; and 19% of independents following the story very closely.
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