Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Joshua M. Scacco

General election news coverage: What engages audiences down the ballot

  Summary As Election Day approaches, more people seek news and information about politics. To understand the habits of news audiences in the run-up to the election, we analyzed what was being covered in reporting about down-ballot, non-presidential races for U.S. Congress, governor, and local offices in the lead-up to the 2016 general election. The […]

Strategy coverage, such as fundraising and horserace references, appears in over half of articles

When covering an election, journalists choose a mix of two basic types of reporting — “voter guide” pieces that examine the issue positions and values of the candidates, and “strategy” pieces that analyze campaign tactics and who’s ahead in the race. Observers often say that the voter guide approach is the higher journalistic purpose, while […]

Public safety, education, and social issues are most mentioned topics; user engagement consistent across these topics

Another critical, though sometimes less prominent part of election news reporting, is the amount of coverage devoted to issues. Issue coverage is important in that it can influence which issues people consider to be important, a pattern known as agenda setting. Although news outlets historically have an important agenda-setting influence in American campaigns, the amount […]

How geography, headlines and fact-checking affect campaign coverage engagement

State and local campaign coverage sees greater time on page than federal race coverage Each story was classified based on whether it focused on a federal race (U.S. Senate or House) or a state-based race, including both statewide (e.g. attorney general) and local (e.g. mayoral) contests. Articles referencing state-related campaigns had a higher average time […]

Methodology

We examined 428 newspaper stories from the websites of eight local newspapers across six states (California, Florida, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington). Only news articles focusing on 2016 non-presidential election campaigns, including federal (U.S. Senate, U.S. House), statewide (e.g. gubernatorial, Attorney General, Supreme Court, etc.), and local races (e.g. mayor, council, supervisors, school board, etc.), […]

Primary election coverage: What types of news engage audiences

A broad, data-driven analysis of campaign coverage by the Engaging News Project and the American Press Institute shows how local, state, and federal elections are covered across the United States and what types of campaign coverage engage individuals. The Engaging News Project partnered with the American Press Institute to examine local news coverage of the […]

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