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More ads than coverage

Tuesday, Nov 28, 2006

I’m still in catch-up mode this week. A while back, I linked to a study that showed the paltry coverage of politics by local TV news outfits. Well, the Joyce Foundation has a new study with the wholly unsurprising finding that TV viewers received much more political information during TV newscasts from advertisements than from the news programs themselves.

In the month leading up to the recent 2006 mid-term elections,
local television news viewers got considerably more information about campaigns from paid political advertisements than from actual news coverage, a new study shows. Local newscasts in seven Midwest markets aired nearly four and a-half minutes of paid political ads during the typical 30-minute broadcast while dedicating an average of one minute and 43 seconds to election news coverage.

The new post-election analysis also shows that most of the actual news coverage of elections on early and late-evening broadcasts was devoted to campaign strategy and polling, which outpaced reporting on policy issues by a margin of over three to one (65 percent to 17 percent). These findings come amid studies consistently showing that voters look to local television newscasts as their primary source of information about elections.

There’s more below. Click for a larger image.

tvadsnews06.jpg

Hopefully, we can get a breakdown of how Illinois stations fared in this comparison.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

5 Comments
  1. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 28, 06 @ 12:16 pm:

    To state the problem even more clearly: If reporting on policy issues is just 17 percent of the election coverage amount of 1 minute 43 seconds, then that equals 17.5 seconds per 30-minute newscast - less than one percent of the time available and only enough for two or three sentences of policy talk. No wonder candidates need to raise and spend millions for the TV ads. No wonder politics devolves into compromised candidates trolling for dollars to fund negative ads and simple-minded sloganeering. It’s a downward spiral with too many problems and culprits to list here. Public-financing for campaigns should be one part of the solution.


  2. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Nov 28, 06 @ 1:53 pm:

    Rich -

    Your readers will undoubtedly be interested in this report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which shows that the number of people relying daily on the Internet for political news and information increased 250% over the 2002 midterm elections.

    26 million Americans a day turned to the Internet.


  3. - Gregor - Tuesday, Nov 28, 06 @ 2:01 pm:

    I don’t need a chart to tell me channel 20 stinks. But what we all need is to de-couple the ads from the fundraising. Make the ads free to all qualified candidates in the same quantity and you short-circuit the money machine as well as allow for more civilized discourse.


  4. - Garp - Tuesday, Nov 28, 06 @ 3:15 pm:

    The local news is the most pathetic outlet for gathering information that I have ever seen. Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” is the most accurate description of broadcast news coverage. If it’s not a murder, rape, celebrity break-up or a new way of losing weight then forget about it.

    Newspapers are being replaced by other media sources but the universal availability and local content of these invaluable information recources are not being developed.


  5. - So-Called "Austin Mayor" - Tuesday, Nov 28, 06 @ 4:05 pm:

    It’s like television stations had some kind of financial incentive to not cover politics — as if stations receive more money when they fail to provide the public service for which they get free use of the airwaves.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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