Economic News Hits No. 1 in Media Coverage

Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism

As the SEC investigated possible fraud on the part of Goldman Sachs and Congress weight the merits of financial-reform legislation, the news media is once again turning its attention to the state of the economy, according to an index of media coverage compiled by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The PEJ News Coverage Index for April 19 – 25 shows that media outlets allocated 27% of their newsholes (PEJ’s word, not ours) to the economy during that period, compared with 16% the week before. Says PEJ:

That represents the most coverage of that subject since the week of March 23-29, 2009, when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled a plan to clean up “toxic assets” in banks and economic news represented 43% of the newshole.

As one might expect, the overwhelming majority of the recent coverage has focused on the SEC investigation of Goldman Sachs and the financial reform bill making its way through Congress.

Whatever one’s position on the merits of either the reform bill or the SEC investigation, additional media coverage of the financial industry may be warranted on the basis of simple complacency. Despite continued economic fragility, the S&P 500 index has risen 12% from its year-to-date low reached in in February. The media ought to focus on finance right now; we’re in for a bumpy summer.