new study of campaign coverage

The latest analysis of election coverage, from the Project for Excellence in Journalism, shows that although McCain’s coverage was generally more negative than Obama, the reason seemed to lie in the horserace emphasis.  Running behind in the polls begets negative coverage. (clicking below will take you to the pdf file)

One question likely to be posed is whether these findings provide evidence that the news media are pro-Obama. Is there some element in these numbers that reflects a rooting by journalists for Obama and against McCain, unconscious or otherwise? The data do not provide conclusive answers. They do offer a strong suggestion that winning in politics begat winning coverage, thanks in part to the relentless tendency of the press to frame its coverage of national elections as running narratives about the relative position of the candidates in the polls and internal tactical maneuvering to alter those positions. Obama’s coverage was negative in tone when he was dropping in the polls, and became positive when he began to rise, and it was just so for McCain as well. Nor are these numbers different than what we have seen before. Obama’s numbers are similar to what we saw for John Kerry four years ago as he began rising in the polls, and McCain’s numbers are almost identical to what we saw eight years ago for Democrat Al Gore. 


2 Responses to “new study of campaign coverage”

  1. Annette Villarreal Says:

    Why is it that journalism has transformed to providing their political opinion when they’re supposed to be objective?
    People get their main source of political information from the news, and of course, the news will sway their audience in the same way they are reporting, which is unfair to the candidates.

  2. Ivy Brom Says:

    I found an article written by a journalist who directly addresses the issue of bias in the media. Despite defensive arguments, bias is very much present in places it shouldn’t be. This journalist proves its existance, shares his disgust, and tries to uncover the reasoning behind such bias.

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