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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 Finally, how much money a candidate has raised is another factor that reporters use to determine whether a third-party contender is serious enough to warrant significant coverage in the news media. However, this criterion seems to have uncovered a slight difference between the reporters in California and Wisconsin, suggesting that different criteria might emerge in different states. All five reporters from California mentioned fundraising as criteria without being probed by the investigator. Not one of the three Wisconsin reporters discussed a candidate’s level of financial support until they were specifically asked about it by the investigator—and in two of the three cases, the Wisconsin journalists indicated that while they do not ignore financing completely when determining who to cover, they do not give it much credence because they consider it a fairly weak indication of a candidate’s overall support. Callender of The Capital Times captured the feelings of the other Wisconsin reporters when he said: I think there has to be at least a sort of a baseline in order for them to be able to be able to generate a certain degree of name recognition. But again, you don’t have to have a lot of money as [Libertarian] Ed [Thompson] showed in order to get the name—the name ID. Conclusion The data presented here suggests that there are practical and ideological reasons to explain why third-party candidates receive news coverage that is substantially different from that given to Democrats and Republicans. From a practical standpoint (Research Question 1), reporters must deal with the reality of limited resources, a busy electorate, 22

Authors: Kirch, John.
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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
Finally, how much money a candidate has raised is another factor that reporters 
use to determine whether a third-party contender is serious enough to warrant significant
coverage in the news media.  However, this criterion seems to have uncovered a slight 
difference between the reporters in California and Wisconsin, suggesting that different 
criteria might emerge in different states.  All five reporters from California mentioned 
fundraising as criteria without being probed by the investigator.  Not one of the three 
Wisconsin reporters discussed a candidate’s level of financial support until they were 
specifically asked about it by the investigator—and in two of the three cases, the 
Wisconsin journalists indicated that while they do not ignore financing completely when 
determining who to cover, they do not give it much credence because they consider it a 
fairly weak indication of a candidate’s overall support.
Callender of The Capital Times captured the feelings of the other Wisconsin 
reporters when he said: 
I think there has to be at least a sort of a baseline in order for them to be able to be able to 
generate a certain degree of name recognition.  But again, you don’t have to have a lot of 
money as [Libertarian] Ed [Thompson] showed in order to get the name—the name ID.
Conclusion
The data presented here suggests that there are practical and ideological reasons to 
explain why third-party candidates receive news coverage that is substantially different 
from that given to Democrats and Republicans.  From a practical standpoint (Research 
Question 1), reporters must deal with the reality of limited resources, a busy electorate, 
22


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