Monday, July 28, 2014. Last Update: Mon 2:50 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Brendan Nyhan | Email the Author

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The press botches the tax debate—again

Narratives and ignorance trump accuracy in descriptions of Democratic proposal

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Yesterday, the Senate held symbolic votes on a pair of high-profile tax bills with important implications for... More

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Unanswered questions in the Romney/Bain controversy

Don’t look to fact-checkers for resolution

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Fact-checkers have played a key role in the controversy over Mitt Romney's role in outsourcing at Bain... More

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Arbitrating the dispute over Romney’s history at Bain

Reporters and editors need a better approach to covering the controversy

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Last Tuesday, the Obama campaign released a new ad here and in eight other swing states that... More

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‘Turning point’ claims ‘in tatters’

After historic health care decision, some commentators set out on fruitless search for campaign narrative

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision upholding most of the Affordable Care Act has vast implications for health policy in this country... More

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Why Romney looks more ‘confident’ in reporters’ eyes

It’s journalism-speak for “seeming more likely to win”

NEW HAMPSHIRE — One of the most frequent problems with campaign reporting is the way that journalists construct candidate-centric narratives... More

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Do campaign gaffes matter? Not to voters

Overhyped gaffe coverage is a sign that editors should shift resources to other stories

Since Friday, the national political conversation has been dominated by a debate over the importance of President Obama’s statement, at... More

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Journalists: do no harm!

If you must cover the birthers, here’s an annotated how-to

In a series of media interviews conducted before a Las Vegas fundraiser with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Donald... More

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The over-covered image war

Journalists are exaggerating the risk that Mitt Romney will be “defined” early

The message war in the presidential election got underway in earnest last week, with the Obama campaign releasing a new... More

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The entirely predictable failure of Americans Elect

A little poli-sci—or just recent history—would have helped pundits avoid the hype

On Thursday, the board of Americans Elect folded its presidential nominating process after the set of declared candidates repeatedly failed... More

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Obama ‘evolves,’ Romney ‘flip-flops’

As the candidates’ positions change, reporters construct differing narratives

NEW HAMPSHIRE—Are Barack Obama and Mitt Romney so different after all? Despite the media’s portrayal of Romney as a uniquely... More

The Dangers of Silly Season

How bored reporters and social media can hype fake controversies and spread misinformation

When Rick Santorum suspended his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination on Tuesday, he removed any remaining doubt that Mitt... More

Narrowcasting the 2012 Election

Why media polls that slice and dice the electorate could miss the big picture

NEW HAMPSHIRE — With Mitt Romney’s hold on the GOP nomination becoming too obvious to deny, horse race enthusiasts in... More

Does Fact-Checking Work? False Statements are Wrong Metric

By naming and shaming worst offenders, reporters can make a difference

Politics today seemingly has more fact-checking than ever before. As a result, reporters are asking a new question: Does fact-checking... More

The Etch-a-Sketch Press

How the media constructed another Romney gaffe—and why it is unlikely to matter

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Yesterday, Etch-a-Sketch became the media’s favorite metaphor for Mitt Romney’s ideological flexibility. But the iconic children’s toy... More

The World’s Dumbest Press Conference

How coverage of Joe Arpaio’s birtherism threatens to make the myth worse

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Last Tuesday, the New America Foundation released a report (PDF) I co-authored with Georgia State's Jason Reifler... More

Countering Misinformation: Tips for Journalists

Avoid negations, use graphics, and get the story right the first time!

This article was written by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler. It is adapted from Misinformation and Fact-checking: Research Findings from... More

The Elusive Hunt for the ‘Real Romney’

How the search for a politician’s true identity leads to pathological media coverage

Though he launched his first run for president more than five years ago, Mitt Romney is still widely seen as... More

A State of the Union Media Prebuttal

Instead of overhyping the SOTU, here’s what reporters should do

NEW HAMPSHIRE—Tonight, President Obama will address Congress and the nation in his 2012 State of the Union address. The SOTU... More

The Out-of-Context Quote as Gaffe

A closer look at coverage of “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me’”

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Michael Kinsley famously wrote that "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth—some obvious truth he... More

Forget the Debates—Focus on the Air War!

Journalists are looking for attacks in all the wrong places

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Over the weekend, media coverage of the Republican presidential race focused on the lack of conflict in... More

How Forbes got to $475 million - That’s what a Hong Kong investor has agreed to pay for a firm that two years ago had trouble paying its rent

Are female journalists up to the job of a Jill Abramson interview? - Reporters avoid unflattering discussion about her firing

How to check if that viral video is true - Journalists don’t always verify user-generated content, so readers need to learn how to verify what they see online

The Grand Dame of Florida reporting has retired twice, but she’s still causing trouble - A conversation with the Tampa Bay Times’ Lucy Morgan

Brick by brick - After years of shrinking ambition at The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos has the paper thinking global domination


A First Look update (First Look Media)

“[R]ather than immediately launching a large collection of digital ‘magazines’ based on strong, expert journalists with their own followings, as we imagined earlier, we’ll begin by building out the two we’ve started and then explore adding new ones as we learn”

The White House deploys minders to interviews all the time (WaPo)

“Almost every officially sanctioned exchange between reporters and the proverbial ‘senior administration officials’ is conducted in the presence of a press staffer”

The down-and-dirty history of TMZ (BuzzFeed)

“TMZ’s real engine — what defines its mission, what legitimizes it and sets it apart — is a unique and controversial mix of scandal mongering and investigative journalism”

The 10 worst New Yorker longreads (Gawker)

“[A]pparently [Adam] Gopnik did not know you could bake fancy breads from France and other cultures. So he got his mom to teach him how to bake them. A fine anecdote, maybe, to tell a friend or a therapist. But in this case he wrote about it for the New Yorker, a magazine.”

Bloggingheads

Greg Marx discusses democracy and news with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute

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Who Owns What

The Business of Digital Journalism

A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Study Guides

Questions and exercises for journalism students.