NYT Admits: As Vacuous as Cable

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt examines (10/12/08) his paper’s presidential campaign reportage:

Through Friday, of 270 news articles published in the Times about the election since the national tickets were formed in late August, only 29, or a little over 10 percent, were primarily about policy substance. And that is a generous tally that includes some very brief items.

That count by my assistant, Michael McElroy, is similar to figures compiled by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which has been closely monitoring election coverage in a wide range of media. The group found that only 8 percent of front-page articles in the Times from late August through last Sunday were about policy. Nearly three-quarters were about the horse race, political tactics, polls and the like.

In a masterstroke of understatement, Hoyt says that “the Times numbers are about the same as for the news media in general, including cable television and blogs–not a standard to aspire to.”

See FAIR’s magazine Extra!: Fair Study: TVâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s Low-Cal Campaign Coverage: How 385 Stories Can Tell You Next to Nothing About Whom to Vote For (5-6/08) by Jon Whiten