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Balance in Campaign Coverage
Unformatted Document Text:  Coverage Balance 7 candidates was not understood as imbalanced. In short, in a race between the two major party candidates, the equality principle offers a simple and sometimes mechanical criterion that represents balanced coverage considering the traditional two-party system in the U.S. However, the question still remains whether the equality rule can do justice to the dynamics of a presidential campaign, about which the media is supposed to inform the public. The literature, then, suggests that the complexity of campaign politics calls for a flexible understanding of balance in coverage. A simple equality rule may sometimes be inappropriate. At the same time, more favorable coverage of a candidate does not always mean an imbalance in coverage. The equity principle makes it likely that a simple equality rule cannot always be used as a criterion to judge coverage balance when media coverage reflects the political reality, although the political reality may be mediated and interpreted by the press. Only in the case when campaign coverage not only consistently favors a certain candidate or a political perspective, but also is not based on either the equality or equity principle with a solid rationale, can it be stated that there is imbalance. Reporting on personality and underlying contexts A number of studies have demonstrated the neglect of press coverage of policy issues to which candidates generally pay attention. 25 While the media’s concerns are sensational, conflicting, and clear-cut issues, those of candidates are basically repetitious at nearly every campaign stop. Candidates’ policy issues tend not to be the favorites of reporters because policy issues are occasionally perceived not to mesh with traditional news values and to be too complicated to analyze in a news story. By simplifying complex policy issues, the press presents “both voices” of controversial policy issues as “pro and con” and “thesis and antithesis.” 26

Authors: Son, Young Jun. and Weaver, David.
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Coverage Balance 7
candidates was not understood as imbalanced. In short, in a race between the two major party
candidates, the equality principle offers a simple and sometimes mechanical criterion that
represents balanced coverage considering the traditional two-party system in the U.S. However,
the question still remains whether the equality rule can do justice to the dynamics of a
presidential campaign, about which the media is supposed to inform the public.
The literature, then, suggests that the complexity of campaign politics calls for a flexible
understanding of balance in coverage. A simple equality rule may sometimes be inappropriate.
At the same time, more favorable coverage of a candidate does not always mean an imbalance in
coverage. The equity principle makes it likely that a simple equality rule cannot always be used
as a criterion to judge coverage balance when media coverage reflects the political reality,
although the political reality may be mediated and interpreted by the press. Only in the case
when campaign coverage not only consistently favors a certain candidate or a political
perspective, but also is not based on either the equality or equity principle with a solid rationale,
can it be stated that there is imbalance.
Reporting on personality and underlying contexts
A number of studies have demonstrated the neglect of press coverage of policy issues to
which candidates generally pay attention.
25
While the media’s concerns are sensational,
conflicting, and clear-cut issues, those of candidates are basically repetitious at nearly every
campaign stop. Candidates’ policy issues tend not to be the favorites of reporters because policy
issues are occasionally perceived not to mesh with traditional news values and to be too
complicated to analyze in a news story. By simplifying complex policy issues, the press presents
“both voices” of controversial policy issues as “pro and con” and “thesis and antithesis.”
26


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