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Balance in Campaign Coverage
Unformatted Document Text:  Coverage Balance 11 233 political journalists. Survey Data. The questionnaire was pre-tested in March 2001 by means of an e-mail survey of 10 randomly chosen campaign reporters. The revised questionnaire, along with a cover letter and a stamped return envelop, was delivered via mail in April 2001 to all 233 reporters. The mail survey was anonymous and participation was voluntary. 35 Seventeen letters, unopened or unanswered, were returned because of an incorrect address, a journalist’s leave of absence, or a reporter’s reluctance to participate. The final number of completed questionnaires returned was 113 out of 216, representing a 52.3 percent response rate. Even though the response rate was not high, even a mediocre response rate deserves attention because the respondents in this study are very important per se. Participants were either White House correspondents, Washington D.C. bureau correspondents, or political bureau staff writers. Respondents were asked to present their perceptions of coverage favorability on news selection (i.e., salience, frequency or amounts) and framing (i.e., distributing tones or portrayals) between Bush and Gore in the 2000 campaign. Their perceptions of coverage were measured in three areas: the general media, peer reporters and their own reporting. Considering the roles of leading news organizations in setting the campaign news agendas for other outlets, 36 respondents were believed to be familiar with the general media coverage pattern. Although the main focus will be on the general media, respondents’ perceptions of coverage of peer reporters (those journalists both in the same news organization and other news organizations) were also measured to see whether respondents showed consistency in their answers. 37 Perceptions of self-reporting (i.e., reporters’ own reporting) were asked for because, according to social psychology, respondents would likely perceive their work as more balanced, accurate and freer of misperception than the coverage of others (i.e., general media and peer reporters). 38

Authors: Son, Young Jun. and Weaver, David.
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Coverage Balance 11
233 political journalists.
Survey Data. The questionnaire was pre-tested in March 2001 by means of an e-mail
survey of 10 randomly chosen campaign reporters. The revised questionnaire, along with a cover
letter and a stamped return envelop, was delivered via mail in April 2001 to all 233 reporters.
The mail survey was anonymous
and participation was voluntary.
35
Seventeen letters, unopened
or unanswered, were returned because of an incorrect address, a journalist’s leave of absence, or
a reporter’s reluctance to participate. The final number of completed questionnaires returned was
113 out of 216, representing a 52.3 percent response rate. Even though the response rate was not
high, even a mediocre response rate deserves attention because the respondents in this study are
very important per se. Participants were either White House correspondents, Washington D.C.
bureau correspondents, or political bureau staff writers.
Respondents were asked to present their perceptions of coverage favorability on news
selection (i.e., salience, frequency or amounts) and framing (i.e., distributing tones or portrayals)
between Bush and Gore in the 2000 campaign. Their perceptions of coverage were measured in
three areas: the general media, peer reporters and their own reporting. Considering the roles of
leading news organizations in setting the campaign news agendas for other outlets,
36
respondents
were believed to be familiar with the general media coverage pattern. Although the main focus
will be on the general media, respondents’ perceptions of coverage of peer reporters (those
journalists both in the same news organization and other news organizations) were also measured
to see whether respondents showed consistency in their answers.
37
Perceptions of self-reporting
(i.e., reporters’ own reporting) were asked for because, according to social psychology,
respondents would likely perceive their work as more balanced, accurate and freer of
misperception than the coverage of others (i.e., general media and peer reporters).
38


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