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Watching the media

(chart from Project for Excellence in Journalism)

Voters must rely on the news media for information about their candidates activities. Much of the mainstream news media turns out to be dismal resource for voters. Today’s post lists online references that can help voters make decisions that are better informed.

PEJ — I begin with the Project for Excellence in Journalism). The site has a place where you can get a weekly e-mailed news index. This week their lead story explores the quality of coverage devoted by talk shows to the leading candidates, as well as the amount of coverage of the current issues. Here is a sample from PEJ Talk Show Index: December 9 – 14, 2007 — Talk Hosts Pounce as Clinton Appears to Stumble.” To quote:

With the apparent tightening Democratic contest between Clinton and Barack Obama, the 2008 Presidential campaign overwhelmed the talk universe last week. The subject accounted for half of all the airtime (50%) in the cable and radio shows studied in PEJ’s Talk Show Index from Dec. 9-14. That made it the single biggest week for the campaign on the 12 talk shows in the index, topping the previous high water mark of 47% from Nov. 11-16. (Last week also marked the biggest week for campaign coverage (26%) in the general News Coverage Index, which measures coverage in 48 different news outlets.)

. . . Hillary Clinton’s role as the candidate of most interest to the media, and especially as a lightning rod in talk radio, continues to stand out. PEJ studies throughout the year have found Clinton to be dominant newsmaker among all the candidates. In the period from July through September, indeed, she was the leading newsmaker in roughly twice as many campaign stories (16%) as her closest coverage rivals, Barack Obama and Fred Thompson (both at 8%).

Clinton’s dominance as a subject is amplified on talk radio. In the third quarter, she was the lead newsmaker in 31% of all talk campaign segments in that period with the closest pursuer, Obama, all the way back at 7%, according to PEJ’s quarterly analysis. Moreover, talk radio is a medium dominated by conservatives and led by Rush Limbaugh, a man who has built a six-figure audience and income, in part, by going after Bill and Hillary Clinton since the early 1990’s.

Media Matters for America (it is their chart at left).

This website also carried a very interesting story about Hillary Clinton, headlined, “Chris Matthews on Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani“. I had often thought that MSNBC’s Hardball host, Chris Matthews has a bias against Hillary Clinton, and my instincts were correct. The story makes a very good case for that possibility. To quote from their conclusions:

The results demonstrate that Matthews has been particularly friendly to Rudy Giuliani in recent months, and extremely hostile toward Hillary Clinton. Not only is there a qualitative difference between the kinds of praise and criticism he offers these two candidates, but a quantitative difference, as well: Matthews made 10 negative remarks about Clinton for every negative remark he made about Giuliani, and nearly three times as many positive remarks about the former New York City mayor as about Clinton. The ratio of positive to negative remarks was 3.5-to-1 for Giuliani, but 1-to-8.2 for Clinton.

Media Matters is a progressive website that introduces itself this way:

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

Launched in May 2004, Media Matters for America put in place, for the first time, the means to systematically monitor a cross section of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation — news or commentary that is not accurate, reliable, or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda — every day, in real time.

I conclude with a fascinating little story about a brand new idea that culminated in something called Beatblogging.org, established just last month. The idea:

Beatblogging.org is a collaboration between 13 news organizations from around the country and NewAssignment.Net, to figure out how journalists can use social networks to improve beat reporting.

Lessons from the Last Two Weeks and What’s Next for BeatBlogging — The story is a compilation by the editor of what the members had shared since coming on board in their network, it is really not about politics and the 2008 election. It does, however, have pertinence because it is a metaphor for committed organizing and information sharing, important elements of any successful campaign, including the group efforts in our progressive activist blogosphere.

I give you this post in the same spirit. I have tried to fill it with resources and references about good journalism, so very useful during the crazy and distorted campaign stuff that comes out of mainstream media.

My reference links:

  1. SourceWatch/Congresspedia on Hillary Rodham Clinton
  2. Center for Media and Democracy – PR Watch.org. news aggregator

View my current slide show about the Bush years, “Millennium,” at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Making Good Mondays is about my holidays.

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