Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Study: Negativity Ruled 2016 Political Coverage

A Harvard University study released in December concluded that media coverage of the 2016 presidential election was overwhelmingly negative, topped only by the 2000 Bush-Gore campaign, according to an Associated Press (AP) news story in U.S. News. Once "horse race" stories about polls were eliminated, coverage of issues relating to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's fitness for office were identically 87% negative for each candidate, according to the report from Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. The researchers looked at coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News Channel nightly newscasts, along with The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal newspapers. The media analysis firm Media Tenor judged the tone of stories; for example, a story about the FBI reopening an investigation into Clinton's e-mails was judged a negative for her, while a story about lawsuits against Trump's business was a seen as negative for him. With all stories included, 71% of the overall presidential race coverage was negative, and 29% was positive. By comparison the 2000 presidential race had a negative-to-positive ratio of 75% to 25%. That's very different from earlier, more positive campaign coverage trends; in the Kennedy-Nixon campaign in 1960, for example, three-quarters of the coverage was judged positive, according to the Harvard report. Overall, whether positive or negative, Trump received far more media attention than any rival. Yet, while the negative tone may have generated interest as measured by television ratings, it didn't seem to drive voter turnout since unusually large numbers of voters either abstained from the presidential election or entered write-in candidates per early evaluations by the U.S. Elections Project, which collects data on national voter turnout. But perhaps the biggest issue for mainstream news organizations was the trend of voters snubbing mainstream relevancy in favor of news sources that bolstered their own viewpoints — including fake news sites. David Bohrman, a former CNN Washington bureau chief who helped with NBC's political coverage, summed up to AP: "The traditional gatekeepers were out there saying 'this is true and this is not.' But they were lost in the noise of 4,200 other sources of information." For the full story, see http://www.usnews.com/news/entertainment/articles/2016-12-07/study-2016-campaign-coverage-was-overwhelmingly-negative