An informed electorate?

Americans don’t care much about economic news.

That, for all the hand-wringing taking place 24/7, is the takeaway from a Pew Research Center survey today that shows only four in 10 tracked economic news “very closely” last week.

he public continues to express strong interest in news about the economy. More than four-in-ten (42%) tracked economic news very closely last week. Oddly, the Pew lede on the story is “The public continues to express strong interest in news about the economy.” 42%?

More tidbits from the survey:

  • 82% said they have an interest in following stories about energy prices, but only 50% indicated they cared much about housing stories.
  • 48% say the media stories portray the economy the way it really is. 57% of Republicans say the media makes the economy look worse than it really is.
  • 68% say they know “some” or a “great deal” of Obama’s economic positions. 59% say the same thing about McCain’s.
  • Only 22% of people followed the story of flooding in the Midwest last week. Somewhat less of a percentage followed the campaign. Three times as many people followed Tim Russert’s death as the Supreme Court ruling on Guantanamo detainees having the right to challenge their imprisonment.
    • WillieV

      It’s apparent from comments made on blogs and in “person on the street” interviews that few people even understand the forces at work in the economy. This Pew study and the “big 42%” is kind of scary.

      Sometimes I feel like economic policy in the country (and the state) is made by people who don’t even know how to balance their checkbooks…Pew’s data supports that contention.

    • brian

      It seems to me that there was a lot more coverage of Tim Russert than there was of the Guantanimo ruling, so it makes sense that more people would follow it. Important things are too boring to be covered in depth (NPR excluded of course).

    • Alison

      I attended a UBS Forum discussion on media reform a couple of weeks ago. While we discussed the paltry offerings of the mainstream media, the thought surfaced that many Americans just don’t care about actual news. The mainstream media seems to do a great job with stories of celebrities, but often falls short on the news that an informed electorate needs. But one question that must be considered is, if the coverage of important issues was better, would most people care? How can we motivate more people to care about their communities, nation, and government?

      Bob – Have you heard anything about broadcasting parts of that UBS Forum discussion on media reform?