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Egypt was biggest international story in a single week in recent history

Total coverage: Egyptian journalist Khaled Dawoud speaks at a rally against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak outside the United Nations building in New York January 29, 2011.

The protests throughout the Middle East, and most notably Egypt, have registered as the No. 1 news story over the past two weeks, according to the Project for Journalism's News Coverage Index. They accounted for 20 per cent of the newshole from January 24-30 and then a whopping 56 per cent from January 31-February 6, making it the biggest international story in a single week since PEJ began tracking this in January 2007.

One reason for the extraordinary level of coverage thus far has been journalists’ access to the scenes of protests and violence in Egypt that they have transmitted to US news audiences. That has been borne out by this finding from the News Coverage Index: In the past two weeks—from January 24-February 6—almost half (45 per cent) of all the stories about the unrest studied by PEJ have been reported directly from Egypt and neighbouring countries.

Most of the other Mideast reporting in the last two weeks came from the major US news hubs—28 per cent from New York and 22 per cent from Washington DC.

A breakdown of coverage by media sector reveals some differences in the amount of on-scene reporting. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of the online Mideast stories studied by PEJ originated from the area, as did 70 per cent of the front-page newspaper stories. Much of this reporting came from the major newspapers, while smaller papers and websites without a robust reporting team relied heavily on wire services.

The three major networks sent some of their biggest names to the region—CBS anchor Katie Couric, NBC anchor Brian Williams and ABC “This Week” host Christiane Amanpour—and 58 per cent of all the Middle East unrest stories on network news in the past two weeks were reported from the area.

Cable news, which devotes considerable time to in-studio talk shows, had a lower percentage of stories reported from the region, at 31 per cent. But there was a significant variation between the channels. While 45 per cent of the CNN stories studied by PEJ originated from the Mideast, that number was 26 per cent for MSNBC and 16 per cent for Fox.

Date posted: February 12, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 144