July 14, 2010

Politics Got Healthy Coverage During Reform Debate

41%

During the health care reform debate, the media devoted 41% of its reporting to horserace coverage (politics and strategy).

A comprehensive study of more than 5,500 stories about health care reform in the mainstream media from June 2009 through March 2010 by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that many of those stories were devoted to an already healthy media topic: politics. During the time period studied, 41% of health care news dealt with the tactics and strategy used by both sides in the legislative fight over reform. This included much reporting on polls and heavy input from political pundits. Another 8% of health care coverage involved the nuts and bolts of the legislative process, essentially how the measure was making its way through Capitol Hill. The second-largest storyline focused on the various plans to reform health care (23% of the coverage). Only 9% of coverage focused on the current state of the healthcare industry. Newspapers were the only media sector to focus on this aspect of the debate, with 18% of front-page news devoted to the current state of health care. The town hall protests accounted for just 4% of health care coverage but they had their moment, consuming fully a quarter of all health care reform coverage during August 2009. Read More