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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
Unformatted Document Text:  Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates followed a similar line of thought, saying that in the final weeks of a campaign she will “check with TV stations about ad buys,” read blogs “to get a sense of what activists are talking about,” and access “campaign finance [forms] online” to see how much money the campaign organizations have and who is funding those operations. A strong indication of how important the contest model is to political journalists rests with the sources reporters typically turn to for campaign stories. In all eight interviews, reporters mentioned “campaign officials” first when asked who they are most likely to contact during a typical day on the campaign trail. Put another way, the first type of source the reporters thought to talk about were those whose main function is to help win the contest. For example, Talev said: “You would talk to the campaign’s press guy. You might talk to the campaign’s pollster, the campaign’s media’s guy—on both sides… So you check with the candidate’s campaign folks every day to find out what they’re doing.” Other reporters emphasized official sources as well. Yamamura of the Sacramento Bee said he checks the Internet and his e-mail “to see what the campaigns are putting out.” He said he also places “phone calls to each of the campaigns” and talks to “campaign staff” and “consultants” each day. Marinucci of the Chronicle said she is in touch with the campaigns’ “communications director [and] press secretaries,” adding that “you could be talking to major fundraisers and certain major strategists.” Another way in which the contest aspect of a campaign is expressed by journalists is in how reporters tend to view the role of voters, who are seen mostly as the final measure of how well a candidate is performing in the game. This was best expressed by Barabak of the Los Angeles Times, who said he frequently travels away from the power 14

Authors: Kirch, John.
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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
followed a similar line of thought, saying that in the final weeks of a campaign she will 
“check with TV stations about ad buys,” read blogs “to get a sense of what activists are
talking about,” and access “campaign finance [forms] online” to see how much money 
the campaign organizations have and who is funding those operations.
A strong indication of how important the contest model is to political journalists 
rests with the sources reporters typically turn to for campaign stories.  In all eight 
interviews, reporters mentioned “campaign officials” first when asked who they are most 
likely to contact during a typical day on the campaign trail.  Put another way, the first 
type of source the reporters thought to talk about were those whose main function is to 
help win the contest.  For example, Talev said: “You would talk to the campaign’s press 
guy.  You might talk to the campaign’s pollster, the campaign’s media’s guy—on both 
sides…  So you check with the candidate’s campaign folks every day to find out what 
they’re doing.”
Other reporters emphasized official sources as well.  Yamamura of the 
Sacramento Bee said he checks the Internet and his e-mail “to see what the campaigns are 
putting out.”  He said he also places “phone calls to each of the campaigns” and talks to 
“campaign staff” and “consultants” each day.  Marinucci of the Chronicle said she is in 
touch with the campaigns’ “communications director [and] press secretaries,” adding that 
“you could be talking to major fundraisers and certain major strategists.”
Another way in which the contest aspect of a campaign is expressed by journalists 
is in how reporters tend to view the role of voters, who are seen mostly as the final 
measure of how well a candidate is performing in the game.  This was best expressed by 
Barabak of the Los Angeles Times, who said he frequently travels away from the power 
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