Analyzing Coverage of Politicians; Study Lends Credence to Complaints about Negative Reporting on the GOP

By Hernandez, Debra Gersh | Editor & Publisher, May 20, 1995 | Go to article overview

Analyzing Coverage of Politicians; Study Lends Credence to Complaints about Negative Reporting on the GOP


Hernandez, Debra Gersh, Editor & Publisher


REPUBLICAN COMPLAINTS about negative coverage by the press may be more than just political posturing.

A new report from the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) shows that "criticism outweighed praise for GOP policies by margins of 2-to-1 in editorials and 3-to-2 in news stories at eight major media outlets" during March.

"Reporters are convinced that Republicans have been paranoid about press coverage ever since [then-President] Dwight Eisenhower complained about the sensation-seeking commentators. I guess the message of our study this year is: Even paranoids can have enemies," CMPA co-director Robert Lichter commented during a panel discussion about the report.

Focusing on what Lichter called "the biggest story of the year," CMPA examined 748 news items -- 446 front-page news stories and 140 unsigned editorials -- about the new Republican Congress in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and USA Today.

The center also analyzed television news coverage, looking at 162 news stories broadcast by ABC, CBS and NBC during their network evening newscasts.

Television news was more critical of the Republicans than were newspapers, with 71% of its reports consisting of negative evaluations. The newspaper evaluations overall were 61% negative.

One of the study's "key findings is that if you read the editorials in a newspaper, you don't need to read the news. They both look pretty much the same. The news and editorials seem to speak with the same voice these days," Lichter said.

"In other words, journalism speaks in its own voice on the editorial page and quotes other people to the same effect on the news pages," he said.

"I think that's a very disturbing phenomenon, in the context of the tradition of the American press of seeking balance and objectivity on the news pages and separating them from the editorial," Lichter added.

For example, CMPA found that at the Washington Post, evaluations of the Republican Congress -- by both sources and reporters -- were 66% negative in news stories and 67% negative in editorials.

In USA Today news stories, 70% of evaluations of the Republican Congress were negative, compared to 76% in its editorials.

Front-page news stories in the New York Times, however, were 65% negative, while the editorials were 87% negative.

The more conservative Wall Street Journal and Washington Times, however, were found by CMPA to be more balanced. At both papers, 47% of the evaluations in their news pages were positive.

In the editorial pages of the Journal, 48% of comments were positive, and at the Times, 41% of editorials were positive.

"The Wall Street Journal editorial page is famously conservative, but what you get is criticism of Republicans for getting thrown off balance, for not going far enough, for not passing term limits, for not passing the balanced budget amendment," Lichter explained.

"So the criticism is in a different direction, but there's still enough criticism to bring down the positive image of the Republicans. Something similar happens in the overtly conservative Washington Times," he said.

If the Congress took its lumps in the press, two of its most visible members, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) bore the brunt of the criticism

Gingrich was the most visible Republican on television with 21 stories, and Dole received the most coverage in the newspapers, appearing in 52 front-page stories during March.

Sixty-nine percent of all the evaluations of Gingrich were negative, 64% for Dole. The New York Times had the highest percentage of negative comments about both men (89% negative for Dole, 91% negative for Gingrich), while the Washington Times was the most positive (56% positive for Dole, 41% positive for Gingrich).

But while Dole and Gingrich were the most visible targets, they did not receive the most negative coverage. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Analyzing Coverage of Politicians; Study Lends Credence to Complaints about Negative Reporting on the GOP
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.