May 27, 2012
Americans are increasingly inundated with news about the debt crisis rocking Europe, but that doesn’t mean they care. According to data from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, the European crisis was the No. 3 story in the news media last week, its biggest week since early December. And during the first 20 days of May, the crisis’ level of news coverage has well exceeded all other monthly levels seen thus far in 2012.
Still, the issue doesn’t register with the American public as particularly troubling. According to the Pew Research Center’s News Interest Index, only 17 percent of Americans polled earlier this month said they are following the European situation closely; more than twice that figure, 37 percent, said the same of the president’s gay marriage views. The week prior, the crisis was much less important to Americans than the death of former NFL star Junior Seau, who was the top story for 11 percent of Americans, versus Europe’s 3 percent.
In some ways it’s relatively obvious why Americans aren’t paying much attention—people only have so much capacity to worry, and Americans have plenty of other, more readily apparent problems to fret over.