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What the media covers, in one easy graphic

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism studied the coverage of the presidential campaign from Nov. 1 to Apr. 15 and, among other things, rated each story on whether it was about campaign strategy, the candidates’ personal lives, their record as public officials, or issues, foreign or domestic. Here’s what they found:

In case you’re wondering, they defined “strategy,” which I would say also includes “horserace coverage” this way: “polls, advertising, fundraising, strategy and the constant question of who is winning and who is losing.” The coverage stretched across five and a half months, and in only one month did the “strategy” portion fall below 60 percent.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/23/2012 - 05:35 pm.

    Of Course the Horse Race is All They Cover

    It’s the cheapest thing to find, it requires little or no research, reporters with deficient IQ’s can still cover it since it does not require them to read, let alone understand, and ask thoughtful questions based on the the candidates’ own position papers which are all posted on line (questions at which ONE side of the political perspective tends to take severe umbrage, anyway).

    Who cares if our political discourse is dumbed down by such reporting? There’s TONS of money being made by media outlets running endless negative ads financed by “independent groups” thanks to the SCOTUS’ ultimate “activist judges””Citizens United” ruling.

    At this point, the actual beliefs of our politicians and the policies they are likely to pursue based on those beliefs get just as much coverage as the disappearance of a minority female of questionable reputation who vanishes in an inner city ghetto: NONE AT ALL.

    We are rapidly approaching the day when Mark Twain’s old aphorism will be proven completely factual, “America has the best government [the people with all the] money can buy.”

    The trouble is, the people with all the money will destroy the nation, all the while blaming the “worthless, lazy, morally defective poor” (and, of course, now, the middle class as well) for the destructive effects of the misguided and dysfunctional attitudes and actions those wealthy folks demanded that the politicians they owned enact on their behalf.

  2. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/23/2012 - 06:09 pm.


    What a colossal waste of “the media.” Not only is more than 60% simply talking heads regurgitating poll numbers and gaffes, but the next largest category is whether or not their wives spent too much money on racy underwear. All right, all right, I want to know as much as the next guy whether the politician we’re potentially going to elect is a lying scumbag, but isn’t that inherent? The bigger question is whether they’re capable of running this country…which gets somewhere between 16 and 22% of the coverage. Wow. Just…wow.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/24/2012 - 07:50 am.

    If you examine the arc of coverage for the strategy and personal issues categories, it seems to come down to the media talking about the media.

    Oddly enough, it falls in line with the basic human desire–“It’s me, it’s all about MEEEE !”

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/24/2012 - 08:01 am.

    democrats shouldn’t be complaining about this

    The media is actually providing cover for your candidates. When your party’s platform boils down to “tax the rich,” and the position papers say “because it’s not fair they have so much” there’s not a whole lot to talk about after that.

    Unless of course you want to make the republican candidate’s wealth the issue, then I guess you could always discuss that. Oh wait, you do.

  5. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 04/24/2012 - 08:32 am.

    A comparison

    of the same graph from thirty or forty years ago would be interesting and telling. But then you didn’t have the opposition party digging in their heels and starting the next Presidential campaign the day after inauguration either.

  6. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 04/24/2012 - 03:47 pm.

    status quo

    Democrats are satisfied with the status quo of the news media’s coverage. If the media wasn’t covering the “horse races,” it would have to cover things like Fast & Furious gunwalking scandal, in which more than 200 Mexicans and a US border agent died; Solyndra debacle; the $16 trillion debt; Obama’s ignorance about the US Supreme Court’s responsibllities; Democrats in Congress rejecting Obama’s budget two years in a row; Obama’s innumerable gaffes saying Hawaii is in Asia, and Austrians speak Austrian etc, etc. etc. It’s much safer for the media to concentrate on the GOP horse race. Otherwise Obama might not get re-elected.

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