Le Top 5 de l'actualité américaine (7-12 octobre) selon le Pew Research Center:

Actualités États-Unis

"California Burning" is the Second-biggest Story of 2007

By week’s end, the California wildfires took a heavy toll. Estimates include seven dead, more than 2,700 structures destroyed, up to 500,000 acres burned, and hundreds of thousands forced to evacuate.

There were also many elements of a media mega-story. Heroic, exhausted firefighters. Human interest stories of loss and survival. Spectacular, frightening video of the advancing flames. The weather as a key player in determining the course and ferocity of the fires. Reports that arson was responsible for some of the blazes. The mystery as the fires advanced of how far they would go.

But undergirding all that was another angle that drove a good deal of the coverage—the K-word. Was the California disaster an example of government preparedness and skill in facing a major crisis? Or was it another Hurricane Katrina, a costly failure to effectively protect American lives and property? That theme permeated the coverage and helped make the California wildfires that were actually smaller in scale and mortality than those in 2003 a huge story.

A CBS News report on Oct. 23 from San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, which was housing about 15,000 fire evacuees, made the inevitable comparisons between that facility and the New Orleans Superdome during Katrina. But the temporary shelter at Qualcomm seemed infinitely more hospitable than life inside the Superdome.

“During Katrina, New Orleans’ attempt to shelter people in a sports stadium went terribly wrong,” anchor Katie Couric reported. Qualcomm she added “is getting high marks.” Still, that didn’t keep the media from hammering away at the Katrina analogy.

All those angles and the scope of the disaster made “California burning” the second- biggest story of 2007, according to PEJ’s weekly News Coverage Index from Oct. 21-26. Last week, coverage of the wildfires filled 38% of the newshole, as measured in our Index. (Only the April 16 Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 dead accounted for more coverage, 51%, in a single week).

What’s more, the fires were the top story in every media sector—newspapers (19%), online (33%), and radio (35%). But coverage was especially heavy, at more than 50% of the airtime, on network TV (53%) and cable TV (51%).

No others subject in last week’s top-10 list came close, or even reached double digits. The presidential campaign registered as the second-biggest story at 9%, followed by events inside Iraq (7%), tensions with Iran (3%) and the Iraq war policy debate at 3%.

The coverage devoted to the California fires also far exceeded any previous 2007 coverage of natural disasters and deadly weather. According to the Index, no similar event ever accounted for more than 8% of the newshole in a given week. Two other disasters involving made-made technology, gained more attention, but still nothing like the wildfires. The Utah mine cave-in in August accounted for 13% of the coverage in one week and the Aug. 1 collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis was a top story at 25%.

"California Burning" is the Second-biggest Story of 2007