Obama's Edge in the Coverage RaceDemocrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4. Obama has generated a lot of news by being the first African American nominee, and he is less well known than McCain -- and therefore there's more to report on. But the disparity is so wide that it doesn't look good.
In overall political stories from June 4 to Friday, Obama dominated by 142 to 96. Obama has been featured in 35 stories on Page 1; McCain has been featured in 13, with three Page 1 references with photos to stories on inside pages. Fifteen stories featured both candidates and were about polls or issues such as terrorism, Social Security and the candidates' agreement on what should be done in Afghanistan.
This dovetails with Obama's dominance in photos, which I pointed out two weeks ago. At that time, it was 122 for Obama and 78 for McCain. Two weeks later, it's 143 to 100, almost the same gap, because editors have run almost the same number of photos -- 21 of Obama and 22 of McCain -- since they realized the disparity. McCain is almost even with Obama in Page 1 photos -- 10 to 9.
Top Story On John McCain Run Out Of Obligation
NEW YORK—Although his lack of charisma and charm has lately prevented the Arizona senator from grabbing front-page headlines, the tenets of journalistic objectivity made it necessary today to publish a top news story on Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Sources confirmed that the primary placement of the McCain article also serves to bolster the publication's reputation as a legitimate paper of record, one that is above being swayed by the hypnotic effect of other, more dynamic public figures who are younger, more visually pleasing, and more adept at garnering media attention.
"Featuring this article was a bold move, and the result is—though completely uninteresting—quite impressive," media critic Tim Keller said. "They have printed a headline that includes McCain's name, put it in a bolded, 48-point font size, and accompanied it with a significant amount of text and a large color photograph of the senator. It takes a strong sense of professional responsibility to commit to something like this."
"Granted, nobody's actually going to read the story," Keller added.
The completion of the article, however, proved far more difficult than expected. Approximately two-thirds of the way through, the legitimate news content grew thin, and several last-ditch efforts were made to increase the length of the story, including a crude listing of pertinent or interesting facts and background information on McCain.