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Balance in Campaign Coverage
Unformatted Document Text:  Coverage Balance 6 Second, some scholars suggest that the judgment of coverage balance and media favorability should take into account the nature of particular campaign events and should represent the political reality. 21 According to this perspective, a certain amount of disproportionate coverage per se does not exactly indicate an imbalance in coverage. In other words, favorable media coverage for a certain candidate, when it represents the political reality, does not reflect imbalance. Discarding a “50-50 split standard,” this view calls for the equity principle, in which coverage should be allocated according to how much candidates deserve based on their relative abilities, productivities, and even potential contributions. However, this perspective lacks a substantial measuring criterion for what the candidates deserve. Public opinion is occasionally proposed as a convention that fits the equity principle. 22 Domke, Fan, Fibison, Shah, Smith and Watts, for example, regarded candidates’ relative standings in public opinion polls as the measure of how much coverage candidates deserve in the campaign. 23 Patterson also correlated press coverage of given candidates with their perceived positions in the polls. 24 Certainly, during the 2000 conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties, disproportionate coverage was not considered improper when the press was expected to apply the equity rule. While the two parties’ conventions were fully aired by the networks but those of third parties were televised only on C-SPAN, the disparity was not construed as imbalanced. Thus, in the case of airing party conventions, the presence of imbalance, when the press represented political reality, was not challenged severely. Moreover, the networks followed the decision of the Commission on Presidential Debates when it set a 15% polling threshold rule for including third-party candidates in the TV debates. When the request for Ralph Nader’s entry into the debates as a third-party candidate was denied, airing TV debates of the two major

Authors: Son, Young Jun. and Weaver, David.
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Coverage Balance 6
Second, some scholars suggest that the judgment of coverage balance and media
favorability should take into account the nature of particular campaign events and should
represent the political reality.
21
According to this perspective, a certain amount of
disproportionate coverage per se does not exactly indicate an imbalance in coverage. In other
words, favorable media coverage for a certain candidate, when it represents the political reality,
does not reflect imbalance. Discarding a “50-50 split standard,” this view calls for the equity
principle, in which coverage should be allocated according to how much candidates deserve
based on their relative abilities, productivities, and even potential contributions. However, this
perspective lacks a substantial measuring criterion for what the candidates deserve. Public
opinion is occasionally proposed as a convention that fits the equity principle.
22
Domke, Fan,
Fibison, Shah, Smith and Watts, for example, regarded candidates’ relative standings in public
opinion polls as the measure of how much coverage candidates deserve in the campaign.
23
Patterson also correlated press coverage of given candidates with their perceived positions in the
polls.
24
Certainly, during the 2000 conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties,
disproportionate coverage was not considered improper when the press was expected to apply
the equity rule. While the two parties’ conventions were fully aired by the networks but those of
third parties were televised only on C-SPAN, the disparity was not construed as imbalanced.
Thus, in the case of airing party conventions, the presence of imbalance, when the press
represented political reality, was not challenged severely. Moreover, the networks followed the
decision of the Commission on Presidential Debates when it set a 15% polling threshold rule for
including third-party candidates in the TV debates. When the request for Ralph Nader’s entry
into the debates as a third-party candidate was denied, airing TV debates of the two major


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