Public Yawns at European Economic Woes
Maybe it’s a sign of our new maturity; a couple of generations have grown up under collective predictions of doom. Layer cakes of imaginary limits, and sometimes even all too real possibilities for our demise.
The trumpets have blared both from the left and from the right, the strident fears peal forth from the religious and from the irreligious - it’s everyone who is telling us we are toast tomorrow, we are all so doomed.
Yet here we are. We persist, that’s how we are, so what’s next, what’s new? — Ho hum on all that doom. If we are toast, where’s the butter?
As the G-8 leaders prepare to meet at Camp David on Friday, the dominant topic of conversation will be the European debt crisis. Yet it is a crisis that has attracted minimal interest or concern among the U.S. public, despite warnings from economists that Europe’s problems may threaten this country’s fragile recovery.
Last week was typical: In the Pew Research Center’s weekly News Interest Index, just 17% said they were following news about economic problems in Europe very closely. Just 3% cited this as their top story of the week. By comparison, 40% tracked U.S. economic news very closely and 20% said they followed it more closely than any other story.
A week earlier, nearly four times as many said the death of football player Junior Seau was their top story than cited Europe’s economic problems (11% vs. 3%).
In part, the public’s lack of interest Europe’s woes is part of a broader indifference to international news. Last year, there were a number of breakthrough foreign stories, from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the “Arab spring.” Not this year. Aside from the deadly crash of a cruise ship off the coast of Italy in January, no international story has come close to topping the weekly news interest index