Media’s mind still on Barack Obama

Focus on president-elect's administration

What economic crisis? What wars?

Following the historic presidential election, the most pressing question on media minds last week was who’s Barack Obama going to tap for his administration.

Those are among the results of a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which found that stories about the transition between the outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration — focusing particularly on speculation about who would be appointed to which jobs — accounted for 21% of media reports last week.

Only the actual election itself accounted for more — 27%, the Pew study said.

The staggering economy limped in accounting for a mere 8% of media reports. Both the civil war in Congo and immigration policy accounted for 1%. Neither of the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ranked among the top 10 most-covered topics for the week of Nov. 3-9.

“With the political press corps still fully mobilized and a deepening economic crisis, the narrative pivoted instantly (from the election) to speculation about the personalities and policies that would drive the new Obama administration,” the Pew study said.

Analysis of election results, both in political as well as cultural terms, accounted for a substantial number of media reports, but as the study noted, “The celebratory transformative post-mortems quickly gave way to coverage of the makeup and priorities of the new president.”

“The biggest chunk of coverage of the new administration, about one-third, focused on potential Obama appointments, with everyone from Colin Powell to Caroline Kennedy being bandied about,” the study continued. “The only actual news came with the selection of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, a move that triggered considerable coverage of both his political skills and fiery personality.”

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