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Balance in Campaign Coverage
Unformatted Document Text:  Coverage Balance 18 Reporters thought that policy coverage was mostly the result of the equality principle. The fundamental bottom-line of candidates’ positions on policy were perceived to be too repetitious and complicated for the journalists to analyze in a daily news story: Thus, “We get bored with the same policy issues and thus personality and color become more of the story”; “While reporters embark on a campaign pledging to cover new ground by focusing on policy issues, it never seemed to happen.” Policy coverage was also mitigated or extenuated by such intervening factors as traditional news values, criticisms by other candidates, and sometimes candidates’ vague stances. Thus candidates’ positions on policy issues were mostly covered in an even-handed tone, which helped reporters to “avoid the accusations from interest groups and specialists.” In any case, many reporters thought that the policy issues did not get enough attention. Even in the coverage of policy issues, reporters tended to compare their impressions of candidates’ policies. This encouraged reporters to pay a great deal of attention not to policy issues themselves, but to the candidates’ motives for certain policy positions because “candidates are assumed to be driven by a desire to win. Their actions are interpreted as an effort to add votes.” But reporters’ concentration on candidates’ political motives underlying policy stances contributed to cynical and negative coverage: “There is a certain element of showing off among reporters on the trail. This leads to an unhealthy neglect of policy issues, in an effort to avoid looking naive”; “The media, perhaps because of financial constraints, were not too interested in digging into the candidates’ issues and more investigative reporting. This is just the way the American media operate.”

Authors: Son, Young Jun. and Weaver, David.
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Coverage Balance 18
Reporters thought that policy coverage was mostly the result of the equality principle.
The fundamental bottom-line of candidates’ positions on policy were perceived to be too
repetitious and complicated for the journalists to analyze in a daily news story: Thus, “We get
bored with the same policy issues and thus personality and color become more of the story”;
“While reporters embark on a campaign pledging to cover new ground by focusing on policy
issues, it never seemed to happen.” Policy coverage was also mitigated or extenuated by such
intervening factors as traditional news values, criticisms by other candidates, and sometimes
candidates’ vague stances. Thus candidates’ positions on policy issues were mostly covered in an
even-handed tone, which helped reporters to “avoid the accusations from interest groups and
specialists.”
In any case, many reporters thought that the policy issues did not get enough attention.
Even in the coverage of policy issues, reporters tended to compare their impressions of
candidates’ policies. This encouraged reporters to pay a great deal of attention not to policy
issues themselves, but to the candidates’ motives for certain policy positions because “candidates
are assumed to be driven by a desire to win. Their actions are interpreted as an effort to add
votes.” But reporters’ concentration on candidates’ political motives underlying policy stances
contributed to cynical and negative coverage: “There is a certain element of showing off among
reporters on the trail. This leads to an unhealthy neglect of policy issues, in an effort to avoid
looking naive”; “The media, perhaps because of financial constraints, were not too interested in
digging into the candidates’ issues and more investigative reporting. This is just the way the
American media operate.”


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