Friday, October 13, 2006
University of Wisconsin study scores lack of election coverage in Midwest TV markets
The Benton Foundation newswire, written by Editor Kevin Tagland, wraps up reports on a study of local TV news in Midwest markets, which found little prime time devoted to election coverage. "The failure of local television news to foster and encourage informed citizen participation in the political process is scandalous," commented Lawrence Hanson, of the Joyce Foundation, which funded the University of Wisconsin study. The National Association of Broadcasters said the study was flawed.
The Associated Press account reported that "an average of 36 seconds per broadcast is all that election coverage has warranted on local evening news in nine top Midwestern markets since Labor Day" and "the five-state analysis by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's NewsLab looked at 30-minute evening news broadcasts on 36 stations. The study also found that TV stations do almost three times as many stories on campaign strategy as on substantive issues. Just 23 percent of the station's election stories were devoted to issues. Studies show that most people rely on TV news reports to get most of their election information, but that they don't learn much from those reports, said Ken Goldstein, a UW-Madison political science professor who directs the NewsLab. Advertising, sports and weather all received more attention than the upcoming November election, the study found. On average, the stations devoted more than 10 minutes to advertising, seven minutes to sports and weather and about 2 1/2 minutes to crime per broadcast. The only stories that got less airtime on average, according to the study, were ones about foreign policy - 23 seconds - and unintentional injury - 11 seconds.
* See research findings at
* Election Coverage Panned in NewsLab Study
* Study: Stations Slacking on Political Coverage
(requires free registration)
* NAB Touts Station Election Efforts
On the eve of the release of a study from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, critical of TV station election coverage, the National Association of Broadcasters released its documenting of an anecdotal sample of broadcasters' campaign efforts.
* NAB Blasts UW-Madison Election Coverage "Study"
"It's hard to take seriously a report that purports to document political coverage of local TV stations that ignores
debates, public affairs programs, morning news, noon news, 4 p.m. news, and Saturday and Sunday morning programming. This is a bogus study from a group with a biased agenda."
* What Community Service?
"Roughly half of the local TV news hole not devoted to weather, traffic and sports is devoted to crime and accidents. 30% of morning news shows are devoted to weather and traffic."