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Balance in Campaign Coverage
Unformatted Document Text:  Coverage Balance 19 Conclusions and Discussion Overall, survey respondents saw media coverage as more favorable for Bush, which was correlated with their perceptions of coverage of candidates’ personalities. In-depth interviews revealed a “dual standard” in which personality coverage was mostly based on the equity principle, while policy coverage was based more on the equality principle. When reporters perceived that Bush deserved more favorable coverage of his personality and that this affected their perceptions of the overall media favorability for Bush, then the finding of more favorable overall perceived coverage of Bush could not be assessed as imbalanced or partial because, as was discussed earlier, more favorable coverage does not always mean a lack of balance. However, the author of this study is dubious about the probable conclusion that Bush and Gore received balanced campaign coverage. In fact, the media occasionally interpreted what candidates deserved either inconsistently, based on inadequate or questionable information, or without grounded in solid reasoning. First, there was the notion that “Gore says anything to win.” This notion seems to have been typically influenced by Gore’s uncooperative attitudes toward the press corps, which was also somewhat mediated by the press. As one reporter said, “Reporters tended to be more favorably inclined to candidates who treat them with respect and great access and information.” Thus, it was possible for the press to portray Gore as friendlier than Bush during the Florida recount, which was different from the casting of Gore’s personality during the campaign. Moreover, the reporters’ dissimilar expectations that were suggested in the interviews – high for Gore and low for Bush – contradicts the idea that the equity rule was consistently applied. The higher expectation for Gore should have resulted in more favorable coverage for him, because that expectation implies a more positive perception of abilities and potential contributions.

Authors: Son, Young Jun. and Weaver, David.
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Coverage Balance 19
Conclusions and Discussion
Overall, survey respondents saw media coverage as more favorable for Bush, which was
correlated with their perceptions of coverage of candidates’ personalities. In-depth interviews
revealed a “dual standard” in which personality coverage was mostly based on the equity
principle, while policy coverage was based more on the equality principle. When reporters
perceived that Bush deserved more favorable coverage of his personality and that this affected
their perceptions of the overall media favorability for Bush, then the finding of more favorable
overall perceived coverage of Bush could not be assessed as imbalanced or partial because, as
was discussed earlier, more favorable coverage does not always mean a lack of balance.
However, the author of this study is dubious about the probable conclusion that Bush and
Gore received balanced campaign coverage. In fact, the media occasionally interpreted what
candidates deserved either inconsistently, based on inadequate or questionable information, or
without grounded in solid reasoning. First, there was the notion that “Gore says anything to win.”
This notion seems to have been typically influenced by Gore’s uncooperative attitudes toward
the press corps, which was also somewhat mediated by the press. As one reporter said,
“Reporters tended to be more favorably inclined to candidates who treat them with respect and
great access and information.” Thus, it was possible for the press to portray Gore as friendlier
than Bush during the Florida recount, which was different from the casting of Gore’s personality
during the campaign. Moreover, the reporters’ dissimilar expectations that were suggested in the
interviews – high for Gore and low for Bush – contradicts the idea that the equity rule was
consistently applied. The higher expectation for Gore should have resulted in more favorable
coverage for him, because that expectation implies a more positive perception of abilities and
potential contributions.


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