09 October 2008

Local Media Giving Equal Coverage – Except in the Headlines

By Glenn Fannick
Dow Jones Insight Staff

For the first time since the 2008 presidential campaign became a two-man race, there is almost exact parity between the individual mentions of Obama and McCain when analyzing coverage in local print and broadcast media in three groups of states -- Red States, Blue States and Swing States.

However, the more interesting numbers are found, as we have reported before, when analyzing only headline mentions. In the seven-day period from September 30 to October 7, Dow Jones Insight identified approximately 22,000 headline-mentions of one or the other candidate.

By this measure, Obama is having more impact in local mainstream press than is McCain. Headlines can be seen as a proxy for what the press thinks is most important and therefore of what consumers of the media will consciously or subconsciously digest most easily. In the current analysis, we see a greater disparity in the Red States (Obama at 56% to McCain at 44%) than we do in the Blue States (Obama leading 53% to 47%). In the Swing States Obama’s lead is 54% to 46%.

Overall, when factoring in blogs, message boards, and national and international English-language media, coverage is leaning slightly toward McCain in the past seven days (51%-49%) but that’s coming mostly from a two-percentage-point difference in social media. With social media removed the breakdown is nearly dead-even.

Internationally, the English-language mainstream media is not evenly split. Obama leads in Europe, Africa and South America, and McCain has a razor-thin lead in the Pacific Rim.

Blue States are defined as those that were carried by the Democrats in all four of the most recent presidential elections: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Red States are defined as those that were carried by the GOP in all four of the most recent presidential elections: Alaska, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

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