The following is an excerpt from an e-mail message that arrived in my in box today from the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
In the wake of impressive wins in the so-called “Potomac Primary,” Barack Obama emerged as the clear frontrunner last week in the media narrative for the Democratic primary. After lengthy speculation about a tight and deadlocked race, the story line changed significantly in a week in which Democratic candidates overwhelmingly dominated the coverage, according to a Project for Excellence in Journalism study of campaign coverage.
Although Clinton (57%) narrowly edged out Obama (55.5%) as a significant or dominant newsmaker in election stories from Feb, 11-17, Obama was the clear winner in terms of the tone. While the media dissected everything from Clinton’s staff shake-up to her loosening grasp on her core demographic voters, Obama’s momentum was the big story about his campaign.
Fully 60% of election stories focused on Democrats—the highest amount of coverage for the party since the Campaign Coverage Index launched in January. Only 24% of stories were centered on the GOP candidates and 16% mentioned both Democrats and Republicans.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s Campaign Coverage Index—which will appear weekly until the party nominees are selected—also finds that:
Clinton (57%) and Obama (55.5%) each received the most amount of individual coverage recorded since the Campaign Index began in early January.
Presumptive GOP nominee John McCain received a substantial amount of coverage (34%) last week, but his difficulty winning over conservatives remains a major story line.
At 18%, Mike Huckabee was still on the media radar screen. However, he has fallen so far behind in the race for delegates that much of the coverage questioned his motivation for continuing.
Campaign stories filled 40% of the newshole for the week. Cable television focused 62% of its airtime on the election and radio devoted 46%.