As the news media intensify their coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign, Brookings scholar Stephen Hess is launching a project to cover the media coverage.
Hess, who regularly analyzes and comments on the Fourth Estate, will undertake a comprehensive, nine-week examination of how well the major television networks cover the election race, beginning on Labor Day, the traditional kick-off date of presidential campaigns.
Funded by a substantial grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, and working with screeners from the Center for Media and Public Affairs, Hess will issue a weekly report analyzing television coverage of the campaign by ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS.
His analysis will be based on such criteria as: the length of stories; the amount of airtime devoted to polls or commentary as opposed to the amount devoted to issues; fairness and balance; and tone.
Results of the Hess research will be published weekly on the Brookings website. Hess will elaborate on his findings every Friday on CNN’s “Inside Politics” program, beginning September 8th, and every Monday in a column in USA Today, beginning September 11th.
“My goal is not to find and publicize what’s wrong with television coverage of the campaign,” says Hess, a long-time Senior Fellow at Brookings. “My goal is to encourage insightful, professional, quality network TV coverage that helps voters make their decisions.”
As part of this project, Hess will give four awards each week for outstanding campaign coverage. The categories are: best coverage that helps citizens understand how the candidates would govern if elected; best story that explains the campaign; best television interview; and the Fred W. Friendly award, for the best documentary or long-form program that exemplifies the standards of the veteran TV producer and educator.
Hess has observed, written about, and commented on the relationship between the media and politics for many years. His books include The Little Book of Campaign Etiquette, Presidents & the Presidency, and News & Newsmaking, all published by the Brookings Institution Press.
For a thoughtful examination by Steve Hess of how the television networks cover this year’s presidential election, stay tuned!
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