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Research

Sorry Mr. McCain, but the media hates a loser

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News coverage of the U.S. presidential election is noticeably more negative in tone toward Republican candidate John McCain compared to coverage of Democratic candidate Barack Obama, according to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

A team of researchers coded stories for “tone” during the six weeks between the end of the Republican convention and the final presidential debate. While the amount of coverage was split equally between the two candidates, coverage of McCain was deemed to be 57 per cent negative and only 14 per cent positive (the rest were neutral) while stories about Obama were 36 per cent favourable and only 29 per cent negative.

Although American conservatives may see this as more evidence of “media elite” liberal bias, the study’s authors suggest that’s not it. Since most of the news coverage (53 per cent) focused on horse-race issues like strategy and polling, rather than policy (22 per cent), story tone inevitably tended to favour the horse in the lead.

Winning the Media Campaign: How the Press Reported the 2008 General Election (PDF)


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Readers supplant editors when journalists blog, study suggests

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Journalists who blog become more responsive to story ideas provided by readers and less reliant on assignments from editors, according to Paul Bradshaw of the Online Journalism Blog. Bradshaw, who is also senior lecturer in online journalism and magazines at Birmingham City University’s School of Media, analyzed 200 responses from journalists who voluntarily completed a questionnaire about how blogging affects their work. Other findings about journalists who blog:

  • They access a wider list of sources and become less dependent on government, pressure groups, public relations firms and “diary events” for stories.
  • They post often and quickly, relying on readers to alert them to mistakes and missing or unclear information.
  • Print-based journalists are more likely to gather and publish multimedia material and broadcast journalists are more likely to gather and publish  material beyond what is required for traditional radio or television newscasts.
  • They publish stories and information that would not be considered for publication or broadcast in traditional journalism formats.
  • They develop a more personal “voice,” writing in a looser, less formal and more compact style.

For more results and information about survey respondents, see Blogging Journalists, Parts 1-4.

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Comment moderation easing up, but journalists remain gate-keepers

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Alfred HermidaMainstream media outlets are happy to publish some types of citizen-generated content, but, as BBC veteran and current University of British Columbia professor Alfred Hermida writes, the doors are still closed to citizens wanting to play a meaningful role in setting the news agenda.
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IN JOURNAL: Newspaper Research Journal

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Titles and brief summaries of selected articles from the Newspaper Research Journal, Volume 29, No. 3, Summer 2008

“How Newspaper Readership Affects Political Participation” by Tien-Sung Lee and Lu Wei. NRJ summary: This analysis reveals that a decrease in newspaper readership among 17- to 24-year olds is associated with their decreasing political participation but not with a decrease in their political knowledge.

“Foreign News Stories More Likely to Include Unnamed Sources” by Michael Sheehy. NRJ summary: An analysis of The Washington Post found widespread use of unnamed sources in foreign news and these stories were more likely to contain unnamed sources than were political stories.

“Newspapers Focus on Conflict in Stem Cell Coverage” by Nicole Smith Dahmen. NRJ summary: This analysis of coverage of stem cell research shows three major newspapers focus on the political aspects – the controversy – and provide much less scientific understanding of the issue.

“Newspapers Get High Marks On Environmental Report Card” by Daniel Riffe and Daniel Reimold. NRJ summary: National survey data compares newspapers with other media as sources of environmental information and assesses how well they cover causes, victims, responsibility, solutions and costs of environmental problems.


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Canadian newspaper readership ‘strong’: NADbank

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NADbank is reporting Canadian newspaper readership remains
“strong”, based on major market readership data it collected
in fall 2007 and spring 2008.  The newspaper research
organization…
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Growing number of viewers watch TV news online

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The number of people who watch TV shows online has doubled in two years, according to a U.S. report by TNS and the Conference Board. For this growing group of on-demand TV viewers, news  – yes, news – was the most popular choice of program to watch online. 
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Visualizing social media

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Social media, the newest powerhouse phenomenon to spring from the Internet, is the ultimate people’s platform, built on the Internet’s unique characteristic as a many-to-many medium. Some social media sites, like Facebook and Flickr, have established themselves as mainstream players in citizen media; others are little known outside of their own group of users and some are still springing into being. The conversations, interactions and transactions swirling through these sites can be useful to journalists in many ways – including getting information, tracking opinion, finding sources and obtaining photographs, audio and video. But social media is a living, shape-shifting chimera and it’s hard to get a handle on it, let alone figure out how to plug it into the process of finding, assessing and packaging news. Here’s a place to start – a “conversation map” of social media sites (below).   Larger Version

Although PR executive Brian Solis says he created the chart primarily to help marketers and PR people track what’s being said in citizen media about their brands and organizations, it could be equally helpful to those who want to track what’s being exchanged in the citizen mediasphere about newsworthy subjects and issues.


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Citizen journalists no threat to professionals, journalism prof argues

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In an essay published by the Knight Citizen News Network, Clyde H. Bentley of the University of Missouri’s journalism school sympathetically reviews the historical rise of “citizen journalism” but concludes it should not be viewed as a threat by professional journalists. He says citizen news gatherers and commentators are to journalism what militia members are to the military – people who want to contribute to a vital societal function while leaving the core job to the pros.
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News “grazers” becoming the norm

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More news consumers are “checking in on the news” throughout the day. Social networking sites are not yet a major news source for the young. More than one third of smartphone users get their news from the device. These are just a few of the latest findings from the Pew Research Centre for the People & the Press.
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News? I don’t need no stinkin’ news!

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About one in five Americans don’t read, watch or listen to news on a typical day, according to the latest biennial news consumption survey released by the Pew Research Center. For some sectors of the news industry, that could be considered the good news …

Here are the 15-year trend lines from survey questions designed to track where people regularly go for news:

  • Newspaper readership declined from 58 to 34 per cent
  • Radio news listeners declined from 47 to 35 per cent since
  • Local TV news viewership declined from 77 to 52 per cent
  • Network news viewership declined from 60 to 29 per cent

More recent formats for news delivery, however, are doing better:

  • Morning news show viewership held fairly steady since 1998
  • Cable TV news viewership increased from 33 to 39 per cent since 2002
  • Online news viewership jumped from 2 to 37 per cent since 1995

There’s much more to be found in the 129-page survey report. Findings will post a few more highlights during the coming days. In the meantime, click here for: A summary of the report or the full report (PDF).


Continue Reading News? I don’t need no stinkin’ news!