Public's opinion of news differs from editors' views p. 29

By: Debra Gersh Hernandez NEWS EDITORS AND the public do not always agree and, according to the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press, one subject on which they differ is the top stories for 1994.
The Times Mirror Center compared the stories that rated the highest percentages of interest in its News Interest Index for 1994 to the Associated Press annual survey of news executives and found that the only matches in agreement were on the U.S. intervention in Haiti (ranking number six in interest, with both) and the Clinton health care plan (number seven).
The Southern California earthquake, number one in public interest, was ranked eighth in the AP survey. Rated number two among the public was the cold weather in the Northeast, which did not even make the AP top 20.
The O.J. Simpson case, ranked the number one story of 1994 in the AP survey, was third in public interest.
The editors and the public saw more eye to eye when ranking news of the attack on skater Nancy Kerrigan. Among the public it was the fourth most closely followed story last year while the editors ranked it fifth.
Rated fifth in public interest was news about the election outcome, which the editors believed was more important, rating it the number two news story of 1994.
The death and funeral of former president Richard Nixon was of interest to the public, ranking eighth for the year, but to editors was a less important story, relegated to the No. 13 position.
The numbers nine and ten news stories of interest to the public last year, the ban on assault weapons and the Iraqi troop movement toward the Kuwaiti border, respectively, did not make the AP top 20.
Conversely, absent from the public interest top 20 were the AP survey's number three story, the baseball and hockey labor troubles, and number nine story, Rwanda.
Two issues on the AP list, the story of Susan Smith, the South Carolina mother charged with killing her two young sons, and the Middle East peace process, fourth and tenth on the AP survey, respectively, were not included in any Times Mirror News Interest Index surveys for 1994.


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