The Nightly News Nightmare: Media Coverage of U.S. Presidential Elections / Edition 3

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Overview

The Nightly News Nightmare, third edition, examines news coverage of presidential nominations and election campaigns from 1988 to 2008. The book focuses on changes in the amount, tone, and focus of news coverage in these different electoral contexts. In addition to network news, the authors examine online news, cable television, talk radio, and candidate campaign discourse in these election years. Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter find that the news media, despite the wide variety of outlets, have consistent problems with a lack of fairness and a focus on horse-race reporting of the latest polls rather than on more substantive matters. In addition to the extensive discussion of the 2008 campaign, the third edition offers far more discussion and evidence regarding the use of alternative media, including online content, in the most recent presidential election. The authors conclude that online news had many of the same problems found in mainstream news coverage.

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Editorial Reviews

William G. Mayer
Praise for Second Edition: No one has more interesting, high-quality data on media content than the Center for Media and Public Affairs. Now, Farnsworth and Lichter use almost twenty years' worth of that data to provide a fascinating picture of how American television has covered the last five presidential elections. Of all the contemporary books on media and presidential elections, this is the best of them.
Richard Davis
Farnsworth and Lichter’s update of their now-classic tome on media coverage of campaigns is another tour de force. Their inclusion of the 2008 presidential campaign, a singularly significant campaign in terms of media role, particularly in the context of recent presidential campaigns, documents the dramatic shifts in media role over the past 20 years. They offer a gold mine of data for political scientists studying media electoral trends. They also provide a compelling argument for traditional media reform, particularly as traditional news organizations meet the challenge of the Internet.
Doris A. Graber
Praise for Second Edition: This book is a powerful reminder that network news coverage of presidential elections remains shockingly inadequate and inaccurate. The authors' evidence from content analysis leaves no doubt about their alarming conclusions. Read it and weep, and press for reforms!
CHOICE
Praise for Second Edition: Farnsworth and Lichter conclude that their data point to a devastating failure on the part of major television networks' news programs on every dimension analyzed. The networks have limited candidates to eight-second sound bites, reduced the quality and quantity of election coverage, and thus shortchanged the candidates and the voters. Recommended [for] lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.
Choice
Farnsworth and Lichter conclude that their data point to a devastating failure on the part of major television networks' news programs on every dimension analyzed. The networks have limited candidates to eight-second sound bites, reduced the quality and quantity of election coverage, and thus shortchanged the candidates and the voters. Recommended [for] lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.
Larry J. Sabato
The whole media world is changing dramatically, but the problems stay the same-too much horserace and bias, too little substance and policy. Our national news watchdogs, Steve Farnsworth and Bob Lichter, use bark and bite to show us the truth.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442200685
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/16/2010
  • Edition description: Third Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 246
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen J. Farnsworth is assistant professor of communication at George Mason University and a former newspaper journalist. S. Robert Lichter is professor of communication at George Mason University and director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs.
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Table of Contents

List of Tables ix

Preface to the Third Edition xi

Acknowledgments xv

1 The Media and Presidential Elections: Studying News Content 1

2 A Need-to-Know Basis? Covering Issues of Substance and the Horse Race 29

3 Who Elected You? Candidates versus Reporters 59

4 A Plague on (Almost) All Your Houses: Fairness, Negativity, and Accuracy 93

5 "Nobody Does It Better"? Comparing Key Campaign News Sources 139

6 Maybe Next Year? The Future of Campaign Coverage 167

Appendix A Campaign Information Items Used in the Content Analysis 185

Appendix B Internet Resources on the News Media and Presidential Elections 191

References 195

Index 215

About the Authors 227

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