The Project for Excellence in Journalism released its first quarterly report based on its excellent weekly News Coverage Index this morning, and it’s interesting stuff.
Unsurprisingly, the PEJ found that the war in Iraq took up more than three times the news space than the next most covered subject. Strikingly, “the majority of the war coverage, 55%, has been about the political debate back in Washington. Less than a third, 31%, has been focused on events in Iraq itself. And about half that coverage has been about American soldiers there.” A mere one in six stories have been about Iraqis themselves, or about the internal politics of the country, while “more than eight in ten have focused primarily on Americans or American policy.”
Coming in under the category of something I knew, but didn’t know I knew, is the fact that coverage of the upcoming presidential election has so far been slanted toward the Democratic race, with sixty one percent of the coverage focusing on Democratic candidates, with just twenty four percent dealing with Republican candidates. If you think that proves that the media is liberal, think again: “Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage were the most Democratic focused of all—75% of their time on Democrats and only 13% focused mainly on Republicans.”
In a disheartening sign of things to come, PEJ reports that nine out of ten stories focused on “horse race” coverage, rather than on the actual positions of the candidates in the race.
This is going to be a long election year.