2008 race al­ready leads news cov­er­age

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jen­nifer Harper

An anal­y­sis of more than 35,000 sto­ries from print, broad­cast and on­line sources finds po­lit­i­cal bick­er­ing and anal­y­sis over the 2008 elec­tion top­ping the news, a year be­fore the vote.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased Aug. 21 by the Project for Ex­cel­lence in Jour­nal­ism, the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion has emerged as the lead­ing news story for the sec­ond quar­ter this year.

The fare is heav­ily Demo­cratic, with 51 per­cent of the cov­er­age cen­tered on Democrats in the first half of the year, com­pared with 33 per­cent de­voted to Repub­li­cans. The rest was di­vided among third- or mixed-party cov­er­age.

“The pres­i­den­tial cam­paign took cen­ter stage,” the re­port said, gar­ner­ing more cov­er­age than Iraq war pol­icy, im­mi­gra­tion is­sues and con­tro­versy over a racial-tinged re­mark by ra­dio host Don Imus. Be­tween April and June, the press opted for the “es­ca­lat­ing war” among White House hope­fuls, par­tic­u­larly af­ter Congress voted to con­tinue fund­ing Iraq mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in May.

Some can­di­dates wooed the press more than oth­ers. Among Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama of Illi­nois eclipsed Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton of New York in the “derby for free me­dia ex­po­sure,” the re­port said. Mr. Obama gen­er­ated 622 sto­ries in news­pa­pers and net­work television alone in the sec­ond quar­ter of the year, com­pared with 566 sto­ries for Mrs. Clin­ton and 367 for for­mer Sen. John Ed­wards of North Carolina.

In­ter­est in lead­ing Repub­li­cans was more tepid. Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona led the ros­ter with a to­tal of 383 sto­ries, for­mer New York Mayor Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani fol­lowed with 341 and for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney was third at 318.

“Month in, month out, the me­dia re­main more in­ter­ested in the [. . . ] com­pet­ing Demo­cratic can­di­dates,” the study said, not­ing that the party landed dou­ble the cov­er­age in April — 54 per­cent, com­pared with 28 per­cent for Repub­li­cans. Dur­ing the first three months of the year, cov­er­age of Democrats out­paced Repub­li­cans 61 per­cent to 21 per­cent.

Repub­li­cans, how­ever, had a bounce in June, gar­ner­ing 57 per­cent of the cov­er­age com­pared with 30 per­cent for Democrats.

News out­lets re­vealed dif­fer­ences. News­pa­pers and cable TV news of­fered more cov­er­age to Repub­li­cans than Democrats by a slight mar­gin. On­line news, net­work television and ra­dio fa­vored cov­er­age of Democrats.

“It is im­por­tant to note that th­ese data speak to the quan­tity of cov­er­age given to each party’s can­di­dates, not tone of cov­er­age,” the re­port said.

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