Bin Laden Killed: When The News Broke, Most Turned to TV (Cable News in Particular)

By Alex Weprin 

A new survey by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press looks at the interest among viewers in news about Osama Bin Laden’s death and other topics, as well as where hey went to get that news.

The survey shows that while Bin Laden’s death was the topic most interesting to Americans, a number of other topics, including the severe tornadoes and floods, as well as the economy, got less coverage than they should have.

Bin Laden was the topic of most interest to 42% of respondents, but took up nearly 70% of the newshole. For comparison severe weather was cited as the most interesting story by 20% of respondents, but took up only 5% of the newshole.


Perhaps more interesting: Pew looked at where people they got their Bin laden news, an overwhelming majority–among all age groups–cited TV:

74% of respondents said that they got their news from TV, and 39% of respondents said that they got their news about Bin Laden online (respondents could select multiple options). No surprisingly, the younger viewers were more likely to also get their news online, while older viewers skewed toward TV and newspapers.

Cable news was the outlet of choice for TV viewers, with national network news and local TV stations coming in a close second and third among TV viewers.

Partisan differences, however, are large. Democrats (28%) and independents (21%) are more likely than Republicans (13%) to have cited CNN as their top bin Laden news source. Three-in-ten Republicans (30%) cite the Fox News Channel, compared with 6% of Democrats and 16% of independents. Partisans are about equally likely to have turned to the internet, newspapers and other sources for news about the bin Laden killing.

More from Pew, here.