Grading The Media p. 14

By: Debra Gersh Hernandez Times Mirror-sponsored poll surveys public impression of press
coverage of the recent congressional and gubernatorial elections sp.

THE AMERICAN PUBLIC was underwhelmed, at best, by media coverage of the recent congressional and gubernatorial elections.
More than a third (34%) of the voting public nationally gave the media a grade of C for their coverage of the fall elections, according to a new survey from the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press in Washington, D.C.
Only 7% of voters, who were surveyed as they left the polls, gave the media an A, 31% passed them with a B, 17% awarded a poor grade of D, and 8% failed the media outright with an F.
Massachusetts voters gave the best grades overall, with 43% grading media coverage there as good, with a B. In New York (38%), Texas (35%), Connecticut (38%) and Florida (35%), media grades of B were most prevalent. In Maryland, an equal number ? 37% ? gave the media a B or a C.
Although in no state surveyed did the media receive a failing grade from the majority, in Arizona (40%), New Jersey (36%), Virginia (31%), California (35%), Michigan (37%) and Pennsylvania (37%), most people graded coverage with a C.
Republican voters gave the media lower grades than did Democrats.
Thirty-six percent of Republicans rated coverage as a C, 26% gave it a B, 21% rated it as poor with a D, 10% failed the media with an F, and only 5% gave their coverage an A.
Most Democrats (37%) thought coverage warranted a B, although 31% gave it a C. Ten percent of Democrats thought coverage warranted an A, 13% rated it a D, and 6% graded it an F.
Conservatives were the most critical of the press coverage, with 13% giving it an F. Twenty-three percent gave it a D, 34% passed it with a C, 24% thought it merited a B, and only 6% awarded it an A.
Liberals were, well, more liberal in handing out good grades, as 10% awarded coverage an A, 37% thought it was worth a B, 32% a C, 14% a D, and only 5% an F.
Moderates tended to be, of course, more moderate, although most (36%) thought coverage earned only a C. Thirty-three percent gave it a B, 15% a D, and 7% each rated coverage worth an A or an F.
White males gave the media a lower grade than did white females, black males or black females. Twice as many white males (12%) failed the media with an F, as did white females, black males or black females (6% of each of those groups awarded an F).
Most white males (40%) gave the media a C for their coverage. Most black females (41%) rated the coverage worth a B, as did black males (39%) and white females (34%).
Despite the fact they perceived coverage as lackluster, 70% of those surveyed said they learned enough about the candidates and the issues to make an informed choice in the election.
Further, as the survey pointed out, "Those who voted against a candidate were about as likely to have felt informed by the campaign as people who voted 'for' their choices."
The survey noted that supporters of failed Senate candidates Oliver North in Virginia and Michael Huffington in California "gave much poorer grades to the media, probably because those candidates attacked the press harshly and regularly throughout the campaign." The survey added, "In Michigan and Pennsylvania, the voters gave below-average grades to the media as a whole, but those who voted for the Republicans in the Senate races ? Spencer Abraham and Rick Santorum, respectively ? gave the press even worse marks."
Senate-race voters in Massachusetts gave the press its highest grades ? "even those who cast ballots for the losing Republican, Mitt Romney, rated the coverage higher than the national average, and those who supported Democrat Edward Kennedy were even more positive."


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