The Media Primary

Oct 17, 2011

In the first months of the race for president, that weeding out period before citizens ever vote or caucus, Texas Governor Rick Perry has received the most coverage and the most positive coverage from the news media of any GOP contender, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

But in what is already a fluid race, Perry lost that mantle to Herman Cain two weeks ago, after the Florida straw poll and a faulty debate performance, according to the study, which combines traditional media research methods with computer algorithms to track the level and tone of coverage of candidates for president. The analysis also shows that Cain’s narrative actually started to become more positive in late August, six weeks before he began to rise in the polls.

Meanwhile, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney remains the one constant—portrayed as the ever-present if not passionately embraced alternative in the GOP field. Despite often leading in the polls, Romney has typically received less coverage and less positive coverage than his chief rival of the moment—and that remained true in early October after Perry faltered. Overall, he is second in the amount of attention received and the tone of that narrative has been unwaveringly mixed.

Read the full report, The Media Primary, on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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