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News coverage of political campaigns

News coverage of political campaigns

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News coverage of political campaigns

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  1. News coverage of political campaigns A review and evaluation

  2. What should news coverage be like? • Informative • “Objective” • Fair and balanced • Focused on what’s important • Contextualized • Accurate • Adequate • Useful

  3. Has this always been the case? • No—early newspapers were partisan in the extreme • Party papers were financially supported by politicians or their supporters

  4. To what extent to do people use the media? • There has been a continuing and fairly precipitous decline in newspaper reading, tv news attendance, newsmagazine circulation. • The only increase is in use of the Internet for political information, but that does not nearly offset the declines elsewhere

  5. Everyday news consumption(Source: Gallup)

  6. Source: Gallup

  7. Source: Gallup

  8. Source: Gallup

  9. Source: Gallup

  10. Source: Gallup

  11. Everyday news consumption(Source: Gallup)

  12. Everyday news consumption(Source: Gallup)

  13. How do people get their campaign news? • Television news dominates • Local TV is more heavily used that network TV

  14. Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, “Cable and Internet Loom Large in a Fragmented Political News Universe,’’ January 11, 2004 * Survey qu.: "For each item that I read, please tell me how often, if ever, you learn something about the presidential campaign or the candidates from this source." Chart shows percent of Americans who "regularly" learn something from given outlet.

  15. What can we say about news coverage? • Although we will review political knowledge in more detail later, we can certainly say that Americans have very low levels of political knowledge and understanding • It’s a running joke on the Tonight Show, etc. • Can we trace this to lack of interest or is it tied to news media performance?

  16. News media performance • The news media can be evaluated on a number of dimensions of campaign coverage, but the most common are: • The amount of information provided • The nature of the presentation • Bias • Sensationalism

  17. What do we find in the news? • The agenda of the American news media continues to narrow, not broaden. A firm grip on this is difficult but the trends seem inescapable. A comprehensive audit of coverage shows that in 2007, two overriding stories — the war in Iraq and the 2008 presidential campaign — filled more than a quarter of the newshole and seemed to consume much of the media’s energy and resources. And what wasn’t covered was in many ways as notable as what was. Other than Iraq — and to a lesser degree Pakistan and Iran — there was minimal coverage of events overseas, some of which directly involved U.S. interests, blood and treasure. At the same time, consider the list of the domestic issues that each filled less than a single percent of the newshole: education, race, religion, transportation, the legal system, housing, drug trafficking, gun control, welfare, Social Security, aging, labor, abortion and more. A related trait is a tendency to move on from stories quickly. On breaking news events — the Virginia Tech massacre or the Minneapolis bridge collapse were among the biggest — the media flooded the zone but then quickly dropped underlying story lines about school safety and infrastructure. And newer media seem to have an even narrower peripheral vision than older media. Cable news, talk radio (and also blogs) tend to seize on top stories (often polarizing ones) and amplify them. The Internet offers the promise of aggregating ever more sources, but its value still depends on what those originating sources are providing. Even as the media world has fragmented into more outlets and options, reporting resources have shrunk. • Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism “State of the News Media 2008”

  18. Local news coverage, Oct. 4-10, 2004(Source: Lear Center Local News Archive)

  19. Campaign coverage on local TV news • Average length of a campaign story • 81 seconds • Nearly two-thirds contained no candidate soundbites • When they did speak, it averaged 12 seconds • Strategy or horserace: 45% • Campaign issues: 29% • Local elections: 5%

  20. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN NEWSLAB MNI Average 30 Minute BroadcastSignificant Variance by Market

  21. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN NEWSLAB Broadcast-Level Analysis • The breakdown by office: • Gubernatorial coverage consumed a third of the airtime (34 percent) devoted to election stories. • More than one out of every ten stories (11 percent) was about U.S. House candidates, almost double the coverage of U.S. Senate candidates (6 percent). • Voting issue stories comprised 8 percent of election coverage. • Ballot initiatives and bond issues also received 5 percent of all election coverage.

  22. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN NEWSLAB Broadcast-Level Analysis • Strategy and horserace stories vastly outweighed substantive issue coverage by a margin of almost 3 to 1 (63 to 23 percent). • Roughly one out of every twenty stories (6 percent) was about former Congressman Mark Foley. • In the last week of the study (Foley resigned on September 29), 19 percent of all election stories were about Foley. Also, in the last week, 42 percent of stories about the House were about Foley.

  23. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN NEWSLAB Broadcast-Level Analysis • Only a little over one in four (30 percent) of stories contained a • candidate sound bite. When candidates were allowed to speak, the • average sound bite was just under 13 seconds. • Local candidates averaged slightly longer sound bites (just • over 18 seconds) • US House candidates received roughly 12 seconds, gubernatorial • candidates received 10 seconds, and US Senate candidates • received 9 seconds on average

  24. THE HESS REPORT On Campaign Coverage on The Nightly News

  25. Minutes Devoted to Campaign Coverage • Note : Based on 772 stories from August 31, 1992 to November 2, 1992; 483 stories from September 2, 1996 to November 4, 1996; 462 stories from September 4, 2000 to November 6, 2000 from the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news. • Data: Center For Media And Public Affairs/Brookings

  26. Minutes Devoted to Campaign Coverage: ABC, CBS, NBC • Note : Based on 772 stories from August 31, 1992 to November 2, 1992; 483 stories from September 2, 1996 to November 4, 1996; 462 stories from September 4, 2000 to November 6, 2000 from the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news. • Data: Center For Media And Public Affairs/Brookings

  27. THE SHRINKING SOUNDBITE • Note: Based on 589 stories from September 5, 1988 to November 7, 1988 ; 728 stories from September 7, 1992 to November 3, 1992; 483 stories from September 2, 1996 to November 4, 1996; 462 stories from September 4, 2000 to November 6, 2000 from the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news. • Data: Center For Media And Public Affairs/Brookings

  28. Horse Race as Percent of Total Campaign Coverage • Note: Horse Race stories focus on who’s ahead, who’s behind, and candidate election strategies. Statistics on the percent of stories based on total number of election stories from that particular news organization. Based on 772 stories from August 31, 1992 to November 2, 1992; 483 stories from September 2, 1996 to November 4, 1996; 462 stories from September 4, 2000 to November 6, 2000 from the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news. • Data: Center For Media And Public Affairs/Brookings

  29. Horse Race as Percent of Total Campaign Coverage: ABC, CBS, NBC • Note: Horse Race stories focus on who’s ahead, who’s behind, and candidate election strategies. Statistics on the percent of stories based on total number of election stories from that particular news organization. Based on 772 stories from August 31, 1992 to November 2, 1992; 483 stories from September 2, 1996 to November 4, 1996; 462 stories from September 4, 2000 to November 6, 2000 from the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news. • Data: Center For Media And Public Affairs/Brookings

  30. Horse Race as Percent of Total Campaign Coverage • Note: Horse Race stories focus on who’s ahead, who’s behind, and candidate election strategies. Statistics on the percent of stories based on total number of election stories from that particular news organization. Based on 772 stories from August 31, 1992 to November 2, 1992; 483 stories from September 2, 1996 to November 4, 1996; 462 stories from September 4, 2000 to November 6, 2000 from the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news. • Data: Center For Media And Public Affairs/Brookings

  31. Negative Tone • Note: Statistics on the percent of positive and negative evaluations based on total number of evaluations in the stories. Explicitly negative and positive statements by non-partisan sources were considered when judging whether coverage was negative or positive Based on 772 stories from August 31, 1992 to November 2, 1992; 483 stories from September 2, 1996 to November 4, 1996; 462 stories from September 4, 2000 to November 6, 2000 from the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news. • Data: Center For Media And Public Affairs/Brookings

  32. What does the public think of press performance? • The public’s view of the press has been in decline for many years • See the press as biased • See the press as having few morals • See news as obsessed with sensational stories, fluff

  33. Project for Excellence in Journalism

  34. Trend in public attitudes toward the press(Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism)

  35. Trend in public attitudes toward the press(Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism)

  36. Trend in public attitudes toward the press(Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism)

  37. Believability of news media Percent of public rating medium highly believable, 1985-2002 Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, ’’News Media’s Improved Image Proves Short-Lived,’’ August 4, 2002 Survey question: "How would you rate the believability of (item) on [a] scale of 4 to 1?"

  38. Public beliefs about the press Source: Gallup poll of 1,025 Americans, September 2003

  39. Trend in public attitudes toward the press(Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism)

  40. Trend in public attitudes toward the press(Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism)

  41. To what extent is this due to the beliefs of the critic?

  42. Percent saying press criticism does more good than harm(Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism)

  43. Perceived bias in campaign coverage Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, “Views of Press Values and Performance: 1985-2007”

  44. Source: David A. Jones, Why Americans Don’t Trust the Media, Press/Politics 9(7): 60-75

  45. Newsworthiness • This is the term used by journalists and critics to describe characteristics of some topic or event that identify it as something that should be covered by the press or by a journalistic organization • What are the features that make something newsworthy?

  46. Newsworthiness features • Two types of values • Importance • Sensational value • Importance relates to the impact the event or topic is likely to have on the audience • Tax policy • Sensational values relate to the oddity or emotional charge a story has • Murder • Accidents • Sex • Weirdness (“Lipstick on a pig”)