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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Midterm and the Media

The Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that different media covered the midterm in different ways:
  • Probably nothing in media comes closer to a simpler and more singular narrative than the headlines on the front pages of newspapers. These offered the broadest, boldest snapshot of the voter's verdict the day before. And they overwhelmingly drove home one unadulterated message, that of a Republican triumph, even as Democrats held the Senate. "GOP Tidal Wave," declared the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press. "GOP Gallops" echoed the Austin American-Statesman.
  • On network and cable television, a key factor in that Republican showing -- the role of the tea parties -- was a major topic, receiving 364 mentions across the six networks during the course of their election night programming. That ranked behind only attention to Barack Obama (473 mentions). That coverage also quickly pivoted from reporting the results to speculating on everything from the future of the Obama health care law to the political fortunes of such key Republican players such as Sarah Palin and John Boehner.
  • Bloggers offered a more mixed election verdict than much of the rest of the media. While the themes of GOP and tea party victories accounted for about 42% of the conversation, the competing idea of a mixed result or a setback for the tea party accounted for about one-quarter of the discussion. And the second-biggest election theme among bloggers (at 18%) was allegations of, and concerns about, possible voter fraud.
  • Twitter users demonstrated their platform's function as an organizing and galvanizing tool. About two-thirds (64%) of the Twitter conversation monitored by PEJ focused on calls to action, on encouraging people to vote. And most of that (41%) came in the form of non-partisan appeals. One other theme to emerge on Twitter was that people were tired of what they perceived as a nasty and negative campaign season (9%).