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Spanish-language TV Coverage of the 2004 Campaigns

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Publication Date: February 2005

Publisher(s): Norman Lear Center

Author(s): Matthew Hale


Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation

Topic: Politics (Campaigns, lobbying, and pressure groups)
Politics (Elections and voting)
Politics (Political ethics)

Keywords: campaigns; local elections; campaign advertisements

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This study monitored evening news coverage on local ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox television stations in 11 media markets in the 29 days before the November 2, 2004 election. Combined, the markets comprise 23 percent of the local news seen in the United States. It found that the stations almost completely ignored campaigns for local office, giving more attention to sports and weather, and focusing on the presidential race when covering politics at all. The Lear Center also studied Spanish-language local news and found that Spanish broadcasts provide less information about political campaigns than English-language stations.

The study did find that local television news viewers do see local political coverage -- during the commercials. Local stations across the country pulled in more than $1.6 billion in revenues from political advertising during the 2004 election campaign. However, in the 11 markets studied, broadcast journalists rarely questioned the accuracy of campaign commercials; less than 1 percent of all news reports in the sample fact-checked the claims in campaign advertisements.