PEJ News Coverage Index Quarterly Report: Presidential Campaign Overtakes Iraq as Media's Top Story

  • August 23, 2007
The 2008 Presidential campaign -- with its crowded field and accelerated timetable --emerged as the leading story in the American news media in the second quarter of 2007, supplanting the policy debate over Iraq. And the once lopsided gap favoring Democrats over Republicans in campaign coverage became more balanced, according to a new study of the U.S. media by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

In the derby for "free media" exposure, Barack Obama overtook fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, who led in the first three months of the year, the report found. Among Republicans, the race for media attention was a tight contest among John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. And one unannounced candidate, actor and sometime politician Fred Thompson, emerged as a leading recipient of coverage even without formally entering the race. These are some of the findings drawn from the second quarterly report of the Project for Excellence in Journalism's News Coverage Index, a weekly content analysis of a broad cross-section of American news media.

Another major change in the period from April through June of 2007 was that press coverage of the war in Iraq declined markedly. Together the three major storylines of the war -- the policy debate, events on the ground, and the impact on the U.S. homefront -- filled 15% of the total newshole in the quarter, a drop of roughly a third from the first three months of the year, when it filled 22%.

Read the full article Presidential Campaign Overtakes Iraq as Media's Top Story at the Pew Research Center Web site.