From today's USA Today:
Heavy coverage at midterm favors Democrats, study says
The media mix By Peter Johnson
Network news coverage has favored Democratic candidates in the midterm election, and the page scandal involving former congressman Mark Foley has been the main story line, drawing almost as much coverage as Iraq and terrorism combined, a new study finds.
An analysis by the Center for Media and Public Affairs of midterm election stories aired on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts Sept. 5-Oct. 22 found that 2006's coverage has been almost five times as heavy as in the 2002 midterm elections: 167 stories, compared with 35 four years ago.
The study found that three out of four evaluations of Democratic candidates' chances of winning - such as sound bites - were positive, compared with one out of eight for Republicans. Coverage has been dominated by two major themes: the effects of the Foley scandal, and the impact the Bush presidency is having on the party's congressional candidates.
The Foley scandal produced 59 stories alone, compared with 33 on Iraq and 31 on terrorism/national security issues. "What's hurting Republican candidates is the media's focus on two non-candidates: Mark Foley and George W. Bush," says center director Robert Lichter.
Because of the focus on Foley, the re-election race of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was featured in 42 stories. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., was featured in 10 stories, even though he's not up for re-election this year. Sen. Hillary Clinton's possible 2008 presidential run was grist for nine stories.
MSNBC gets into Hotsoup
MSNBC and a new grass-roots community political website, Hotsoup.com, have a long-term deal to share content that the cable channel hopes will initially help round out coverage of the midterm elections and that Hotsoup hopes will put it on the map.
MSNBC.com's politics section, with content from NBC News and The National Journal, will be further bolstered by daily and weekly commentary and analysis from Ron Fournier, a Hotsoup co-founder and former AP political reporter.
The pact is the latest example of mainstream outlets entering into strategic partnerships with online sites and younger-skewing media to stay relevant and take the pulse of the nation, especially Web-savvy viewers and readers. On election night, CNN and Fox News will team with bloggers for coverage.
"This is the Internet version of ‘man on the street' or taking calls on Larry King Live," says MSNBC vice president Tammy Haddad, who once produced King for CNN. "We're saying, ‘We want to know what you think.' We're involving the community."
Along from comments from ordinary people, political strategists from both parties who contribute to Hotsoup will now be featured on MSNBC. "We're going to hear their strategy, what they're thinking about," Haddad says.
"Our audience is deeply news attentive, very interested in the current conversation, so being able to expand the voice of what's going on in our site to a larger audience is very important," says Hotsoup co-founder Chip Smith.
Since no money is changing hands, the deal is also attractive to NBC at a time when the network is cutting costs.