Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How traditional journalism completely missed the Scott Brown election and was saved at the last minute by Rasmussen

Pew: "And when it became clear something was up,
  • it was polling—
that caught the wave in the race to succeed Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy....
  • Then came a crucial moment. A poll by Rasmussen Reports published on January 5 showed that Brown trailed Coakley by single digits, only 9 points, a much closer race than previously thought. The Herald quoted Rasmussen President Scott Rasmussen saying,
“It has nothing to do with Brown and everything to do with the political environment we're seeing nationally.”...
  • The media, even locally, were utterly surprised by the support for Scott Brown." (Both the Globe and Herald had endorsed Coakley)
(continuing, Pew): "He was barely covered in the primaries. Brown got far less coverage than any of the four top Democrats and only moderately more coverage (8%) than ex-Congressman Joseph Kennedy (4%), who never entered the race. In addition, there were only about 70 stories about the general election in the month after the primary before the extent of Brown’s surge became known.
  • In the two weeks after the Rasmussen poll, coverage picked up frantically. The New York Times and Associated Press produced almost twice as many stories in final the two weeks from January 6-19 as they did in the entire three months from September 1-December 8. Locally, nearly one-quarter of all the Boston Globe’s election coverage occurred in the final two weeks. Herald coverage accelerated further, with nearly 40% of all its campaign stories published in that period....
The framing can shape the way audiences respond. ...
  • One other framing finding during the primary suggests this was not a campaign marked
  • by much journalistic
  • vetting of candidates’ claims,
either on the stump or in advertisements. The reality check frame, which would cover that kind of aggressive journalism,
  • accounted for 1% of the stories examined." ...
"Hiding in plain sight, From Kennedy to Brown," Project for Excellence in Journalism, "Press coverage of the 2010 Massachusetts Senate Special Election," 4/20/10, via Poynter.org/Romenesko


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