22 July 2008

Fuel Prices, Jobs Cuts and Housing Slumps – Oh, My

By Glenn Fannick
Dow Jones Insight Staff

With the current state of the economy a hot topic, we have begun tracking several new issues that are playing key roles in the overall economic picture – namely fuel prices, the housing market and the jobs situation. Considering the direness of the discussion around these topics in some corners of the media, it appears that on the whole, the press and bloggers are talking about them in relation to the candidates somewhat less than we’d have expected. As always, this may or may not be a reflection of where the candidates want to take the conversation, but it shows the amount of attention the media and bloggers are giving the issues as they cover the candidates.

Of the 24 key domestic and international issues currently tracked by Dow Jones Insight, only one of the new topics – fuel prices – cracked the top 10. The issue was mentioned in the context of either candidate 27,443 times in all tracked sources (mainstream and social media) during the period June 20 – July 20, making it the eighth-most-discussed issue. The topic of jobs was referenced 22,335 times, ranking it 11th, while the state of the housing market came up a surprisingly low 5,578 times, putting it way down the list in the 21st spot. The issue of the economy as a whole, however, rose to the top spot among all issues, potentially offering some proof that politicians prefer to talk in generalities rather than offer specific plans.

We will update this table regularly to provide an at-a-glance view of how coverage of the issues fluctuates over the course of the campaign.

Methodology: Mainstream press sources include more than 6,000 newspapers, wires, magazines, radio and TV transcripts and more than 13,000 current-awareness news Web sites. Social media sources include 2 million of the most influential blogs and more than 60,000 message boards.

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