A new report reveals that media coverage of the 2008 presidential race has focused far more on candidates’ tactics and strategy than on their positions on issues – and favors Democrats far more than Republicans.
The report, conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism – part of the Pew Research Center – and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard, examined 1,742 stories that appeared from January through May in 48 news outlets.
Researchers found that Hillary Clinton got the most coverage, but Barack Obama got the most positive coverage – 47 percent of stories about the Illinois Democrat were positive, compared with 27 percent for Hillary.
Only 12 percent of the stories about Republican John McCain were positive.
Among other findings reported by the New York Times: Nearly two-thirds of all print, television, radio and online stories focused on the political aspects of the campaign, while only 1 percent dealt with the candidates’ public records. Only 12 percent of stories appeared relevant to voters’ decision making. Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic candidate John Edwards, got more press coverage than 10 of the 19 candidates in the White House race.
The Times observed: “The campaign coverage has been sharply at odds with what the public says it wants, the study found, with voters eager to know more about the candidates’ positions on issues and their personal backgrounds, more about lesser-known candidates and more about debates. But the media is even more obsessed this time around with questions of tactics and strategy.”
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