Citation de la semaine
"I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now"
—Joe Biden on Today Show (talking about the swine flu)
Poids média de l'actualité américaine (27 avril-3 mai) selon le Pew Research Center:
Flu Fears Dominate a Week of Big Events
Last week, a key Republican senator switched parties, altering the balance of power on Capitol Hill. Barack Obama celebrated his 100th day in office with a prime-time press conference. The chairman of Bank of America was ousted and the Chrysler Corporation declared bankruptcy.
Yet all those stories were overwhelmed by the frantic coverage of a new flu virus that in a matter of days had made its way around the globe and was threatening to become the first influenza pandemic in four decades. From April 27-May 3, the swine flu, or H1N1 as it officially became known, accounted for nearly one-third of the newshole (31%) studied, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
This marked only the second time since January 2007 that a health-related subject led PEJ’s weekly News Coverage Index. That other story, now mostly forgotten, was the potential spread of a seemingly dangerous form of tuberculosis by an Atlanta lawyer, and it filled 12% of the newshole from May 27-June 1, 2007.
The dominant story of the year so far, the economic crisis, fell to No. 2 last week, at 10% of the space studied in print and online and time on television and radio. That was followed (at 9%) by the Obama administration with the focus on evaluations of the President’s first 100 days. Moderate Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter’s defection to the Democrats came next (9%), followed by more bad news from the auto industry (at 8%).
It’s quite possible that in another week, any or even all of those stories might have received substantially more attention. But the possibility of pandemic flu overwhelmed the media as they scrambled to cover various aspects of the story—from epidemiology to human interest, from the growing number of victims to the political fallout. Press attention was so extensive that some of the coverage began examining whether the threat had been overblown and the media’s role in that.