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Balance in Campaign Coverage
Unformatted Document Text:  Coverage Balance 8 As a result, personality becomes more of the campaign story and reporters tend to compare their impressions of candidates’ personalities and characters through interpretive reporting, which gives journalists more power over the news message. Although journalists presume to tell what as well as why, interpretive reporting provides the theme of news story where political facts illuminate the theme, which does not really tell what happened but does tell what the journalists felt. 27 Graber found that Washington reporters do give more consideration to the personalities of presidential candidates than to policy issues. 28 Although candidates’ images are constructed through the interactions among candidates, messages mediated by the press, and the public, the press actively takes the initiative in creating very simplified images of the candidates and intensifies pre-cast characterizations of them. In today’s elections, the perceived personalities and characters of candidates are more closely related to the campaign itself than ever. Thus the creation and maintenance of them are becoming the most important campaign strategies. When the candidates’ pre-cast personalities are set up, the “taken-for-granted” qualities of those personalities influence, sustain, and restrain reproduction of media coverage. Journalistic decisions, then, cannot help being constrained by those more-or-less shared images of candidates. Candidates’ images, mostly constructed by the press, have thus come to dominate the whole campaign process, which suggests “image is everything” during campaigns. 29 Not surprisingly, the focus of coverage of the 2000 campaign was more on personality than policy. 30 Although the early spotlight on candidates’ personalities seemed to be affected by the impeachment of President Clinton, the media also placed the issue of personalities as a top priority throughout the campaign. In the cartoons of most elite newspapers, the personality issue was one of the most frequently discussed campaign topics. 31 The Washington Post ombudsman,

Authors: Son, Young Jun. and Weaver, David.
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Coverage Balance 8
As a result, personality becomes more of the campaign story and reporters tend to
compare their impressions of candidates’ personalities and characters through interpretive
reporting, which gives journalists more power over the news message. Although journalists
presume to tell what as well as why, interpretive reporting provides the theme of news story
where political facts illuminate the theme, which does not really tell what happened but does tell
what the journalists felt.
27
Graber found that Washington reporters do give more consideration to
the personalities of presidential candidates than to policy issues.
28
Although candidates’ images are constructed through the interactions among candidates,
messages mediated by the press, and the public, the press actively takes the initiative in creating
very simplified images of the candidates and intensifies pre-cast characterizations of them. In
today’s elections, the perceived personalities and characters of candidates are more closely
related to the campaign itself than ever. Thus the creation and maintenance of them are becoming
the most important campaign strategies. When the candidates’ pre-cast personalities are set up,
the “taken-for-granted” qualities of those personalities influence, sustain, and restrain
reproduction of media coverage. Journalistic decisions, then, cannot help being constrained by
those more-or-less shared images of candidates. Candidates’ images, mostly constructed by the
press, have thus come to dominate the whole campaign process, which suggests “image is
everything” during campaigns.
29
Not surprisingly, the focus of coverage of the 2000 campaign was more on personality
than policy.
30
Although the early spotlight on candidates’ personalities seemed to be affected by
the impeachment of President Clinton, the media also placed the issue of personalities as a top
priority throughout the campaign. In the cartoons of most elite newspapers, the personality issue
was one of the most frequently discussed campaign topics.
31
The Washington Post ombudsman,


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