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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 whether the candidate has a chance to win or affect the outcome of the election in some meaningful way.” Reporters said they are more likely to cover a third-party candidate if that person is talking about issues that are resonating strongly with the public. This was the Number 1 criterion mentioned by Callender, Walters, and Barabak. Name recognition was also a significant criterion mentioned by four of the eight reporters. Callender, for instance, pointed out that “if Brett Favre (the former quarterback of the Green Bay Packers) were to suddenly announce tomorrow that he’s decided to join the Libertarian Party, even if he had $10 in the fund raising, I don’t think it would make any difference—I think there would be coverage of him.” Reporters said they pay close attention to the level of a third-party candidate’s engagement. In other words, is the candidate really trying to win or is he or she just taking up space on the ballot? There are several ways reporters measure this. First, reporters look closely at the candidate’s organization to determine if it is a well-oiled machine with volunteers and a headquarters; second, they look to see if the candidate is trying to facilitate coverage by sending reporters e-mail, press releases, and other communications; and third, they look to see if the candidate is doing such things as updating his or her Web site and going out on the campaign trail day after day. Milfred said that this type of public engagement is perhaps the biggest factor that he uses to determine whether the candidate should receive significant coverage. He said: Number one is: Are they running a credible campaign? In this day and age, if you can’t send out an e-mail to a reporter that says you’re even running, that says you’re going to have an event, then forget it, especially for a major race… And it’s pretty clear when you look at most third-party candidates that they know they can’t win, they are not going to put their life on hold for this campaign, they’re doing it because their third party needed somebody to run… 21

Authors: Kirch, John.
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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
whether the candidate has a chance to win or affect the outcome of the election in some 
meaningful way.”
Reporters said they are more likely to cover a third-party candidate if that person 
is talking about issues that are resonating strongly with the public.  This was the Number 
1 criterion mentioned by Callender, Walters, and Barabak.
Name recognition was also a significant criterion mentioned by four of the eight 
reporters.  Callender, for instance, pointed out that “if Brett Favre (the former quarterback 
of the Green Bay Packers) were to suddenly announce tomorrow that he’s decided to join 
the Libertarian Party, even if he had $10 in the fund raising, I don’t think it would make 
any difference—I think there would be coverage of him.”
Reporters said they pay close attention to the level of a third-party candidate’s 
engagement.  In other words, is the candidate really trying to win or is he or she just 
taking up space on the ballot?  There are several ways reporters measure this.  First, 
reporters look closely at the candidate’s organization to determine if it is a well-oiled 
machine with volunteers and a headquarters; second, they look to see if the candidate is 
trying to facilitate coverage by sending reporters e-mail, press releases, and other 
communications; and third, they look to see if the candidate is doing such things as 
updating his or her Web site and going out on the campaign trail day after day.
Milfred said that this type of public engagement is perhaps the biggest factor that 
he uses to determine whether the candidate should receive significant coverage. He said: 
Number one is: Are they running a credible campaign?  In this day and age, if you can’t 
send out an e-mail to a reporter that says you’re even running, that says you’re going to 
have an event, then forget it, especially for a major race…  And it’s pretty clear when you 
look at most third-party candidates that they know they can’t win, they are not going to 
put their life on hold for this campaign, they’re doing it because their third party needed 
somebody to run…

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