Watching campaign coverage


The Project for Excellence in Journalism, along with the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press say that press coverage of the current presidential campaign has it pretty much backwards. People want more coverage of where candidates stand in the issues, more debate coverage, more info on candidate backgrounds and experience and their sources of cash; and less info about how they’re doing in the latest polls. Instead, though, they’re getting a diet made of 63% of stories on campaign tactics and poll results. Personal background info (17%) and policy positions (16%) lag far behind.

Coverage has been relatively even-handed, however, with a few exceptions. Democrats have received favorable coverage 35% of the time, negative 36% and neutral 39%. Republican have been favorable 26%, negative 35% and neutral 39%. But take out positive stories about Barack Obama (D-IL) and negative stories about John McCain (R-AZ) and the coverage is said to be about even across both parties.

Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is said to lead the pack in coverage, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing. She has been pounded relentlessly by conservative radio hosts, pushing her to the top of the total coverage heap with 17%. Obama is next with 14%, followed by Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) at 9%, McCain at 7% and Mitt Romney (R-MA) at 5%.