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Results of a Project for Excellence in Journalism report indicate media coverage of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama often mirrors their standing in the polls. A media critic and journalists weigh the impact of the recent findings and the role of media coverage in the 2008 race.
Now, covering the coverage of the presidential campaign. Jeffrey Brown has our Media Unit report. JEFFREY BROWN: In a campaign that's generated enormous interest and seemingly more coverage than a 24-hour day would allow, are there consistent trends or themes in the reporting?
A new study, "Winning the Media Campaign," from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism offers some answers. Mark Jurkowitz is the associate director of the group and a former media reporter for the Boston Globe.
Also with us is Callie Crossley, program manager at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and a contributor to WGBH Boston's media program, "Beat the Press."
And Robin Abcarian, who's been on the campaign trail with the candidates as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.
Mark, the headline, I guess, on your study, the coverage of your study of the coverage, you write, "The media coverage has not so much cast Barack Obama in a favorite light as it has portrayed John McCain in a substantially negative one."
Now, what does that mean?
MARK JURKOWITZ, Project for Excellence in Journalism: Well, the period we looked at, Jeffrey, was from Sept. 8 through Oct. 16, so it was a crucial period in the election, basically from the end of the Republican convention through all of the presidential debates, so a crucial moment.
And what we do is we look at what we call the tone in the campaign. We actually evaluate stories — hundreds and hundreds of them — to see whether there tend to be more negative assertions or positive assertions about a candidate in a story.
And we're actually very conservative about the way we do it. We have a lot of stories that are neutral.
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