The findings reported here are based on the most extensive study ever conducted of English and Spanish language network and local news coverage over the course of a campaign. Specifically, the national network findings are based on the nightly broadcasts aired on ABC, CBS, NBC, Telemundo and Univision during the 29-day period from October 4 to November 1, 2004. The local news findings are based on an analysis of all evening news broadcasts aired between 5:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. by the local affiliates of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo and Univision in three markets (Los Angeles, New York and Miami) during the same time period. The Spanish-language local stations were KMEX (Univision) and KVEA (Telemundo) in Los Angeles; WLTV (Univision) and WSCV (Telemundo) in Miami; and WXTV (Univision) and WNJU (Telemundo) in New York. The study examined a total of 424 network news election stories and 2,724 local news election stories.
How did the two Spanish-language networks compare? Univision, the primary Spanish-language network, is more like an English-language network in the quantity and quality of its election coverage; it provided more and better coverage than its competitor, Telemundo.
How much election coverage aired on English- and Spanish-language networks? English-language networks devoted somewhat more of their nightly news to campaigns and elections than Spanish-language networks. A typical half-hour of network news on ABC, CBS and NBC averaged eight minutes of election coverage. A typical Univision broadcast contained six-and-one-half minutes of election coverage, while a typical Telemundo half-hour aired just four minutes. The amount provided by each English-language network was fairly similar: NBC ran 35 percent of all English-language network stories; ABC had 34 percent; CBS had 31 percent. But Univision provided over twice as much election coverage as Telemundo: sixty-eight percent of Spanish-language stories aired on Univision and 32 percent on Telemundo.
How much network election coverage focused on campaign issues or critiqued candidate advertising? Almost half of the election stories on NBC (48 percent) and CBS (47 percent) focused on issues. By contrast, only about 30 percent of the stories on ABC and Univision focused on issues, and 19 percent of the Telemundo stories focused on issues. Just one percent of the stories on English-language networks were adwatches; no adwatch stories were found on Spanish-language networks.
How much network election coverage mentioned Latino issues? Only five campaign stories (amounting to two percent of all English-language network stories) mentioned Latino issues, and four of them were on NBC (whose parent company, GE, also owns Telemundo). By contrast, 45 percent of the Univision network stories, and 27 percent of Telemundo stories, mentioned Latino issues.
How did English- and Spanish-language networks compare in coverage of the Iraq War and other world affairs news? A typical Univision broadcast contained about 45 seconds of Iraq coverage and slightly more than eight minutes of other world affairs news. On Telemundo, a viewer would have seen just under 45 seconds of Iraq War coverage, and six-and-one-half minutes of other world affairs coverage. By contrast, a viewer of a typical English-language network broadcast would have seen three minutes of Iraq War coverage and slightly less than one-and-one-half minutes of other world affairs news.
Did the differences between Univision and Telemundo at the network level appear at the local level? No. In number of campaign stories, length of stories, discussion of Latino issues, and balance of strategy/horserace stories vs. issue stories, there were virtually no differences between affiliates of the two networks.
How much election coverage aired on English- and Spanish-language local news? English-language stations averaged more campaign stories and longer campaign stories with more candidate soundbites than Spanish-language stations.
How much local stations’ campaign coverage was devoted to local races? The presidential race dominated coverage on both Spanish- and English-language networks. Roughly two-thirds of all election coverage – 64 percent of the English-language campaign stories and 67 percent of the Spanish-language campaign stories – focused on the presidential race. Only six percent of the English-language campaign stories, and just three percent of the campaign stories on the Spanish-language stations, focused on local races.
How much local election coverage focused on campaign issues or critiqued candidate advertising? Forty-five percent of the English-language campaign stories and 53 percent of the Spanish-language stories focused on strategy or the horserace. Local stations in both languages were diligent at providing viewers with information about where to vote and about potential problems with the voting process. Twenty-one percent of all stories focused on these types of voting issues.
How much local election coverage mentioned Latino issues? Just three percent of all English-language stories mentioned Latino issues, compared to 30 percent on Spanish-language affiliates.
How did English- and Spanish-language affiliates compare in coverage of world affairs and Iraq? Similar to the mix at the network level, local Spanish-language stations gave significantly more coverage to world affairs coverage than local English-language stations. A typical Spanish-language local broadcast devoted one minute 44 seconds to world affairs, while a typical English-language broadcast devoted just 17 seconds to world affairs. The Iraq War received surprisingly little coverage on local news in either language. A typical Spanish-language local broadcast devoted 10 seconds to the Iraq War, while a typical English-language local broadcast contained just 25 seconds of Iraq War coverage.
Project Overview & Research Methodology
This report is released by the Lear Center Local News Archive (localnewsarchive.org), a collaboration between the USC Annenberg School for Communication’s Norman Lear Center and the NewsLab of the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The principal investigators are Martin
Kaplan, associate dean of the USC Annenberg School and director of The Norman Lear Center; Ken Goldstein, professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Matthew Hale, assistant professor in the Center for Public Service at Seton Hall University. The project is funded by a grant from The Pew Hispanic Center, which is directed by Roberto Suro.
In the four weeks preceding Election Day 2004 (October 4th to November 1st), project staff captured the evening network news broadcast on ABC, CBS, NBC, Telemundo and Univision. During the same time period, local news on the ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo and Univision affiliates in three markets – New York, Los Angeles and Miami – was also captured. (In addition, English-language local news in eight more markets was captured for a parallel study funded by the Joyce Foundation, with additional support from the Carnegie Corporation; see localnewsarchive.org.)
The news programming was captured through a sophisticated market-based media server technology. Each day, digitally-recorded video was sent over the Internet to the NewsLab servers overnight. The NewsLab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (www.polisci.wisc.edu/newslab) is a unique state-of-the art facility that has the infrastructure, technical skill, and supervisory capability to capture, clip, code, analyze and archive any media in any market – domestic or international – in real time. Video can be gathered, digitized, sorted and archived automatically by the InfoSite system, a media analysis product of CommIT Technology Solutions of Madison, Wisconsin (www.commitonline.com). This system includes a variety of automatic validation checks to ensure superior coding reliability and logical consistency. With over a terabyte of storage, the NewsLab servers manage data, encode and archive video, and serve content through one of many custom media analysis tools, both internally, and to the rest of the world via the Internet. The Newslab director is Erika Franklin Fowler. The University of Wisconsin Advertising Project (www.polisci.wisc.edu/tvadvertising) is also housed in the NewsLab facility, where it tracks real time political advertising flows across the nation.
The NewsLab system captured 100 percent of all network broadcasts and 97 percent of all the targeted local broadcasts, a notably high rate. Of the 18 stations analyzed for this study, only one had a capture rate below 90 percent. This station was the Fox affiliate in Los Angeles, which had a capture rate of 77 percent. A full listing of each individual station capture rate can be found in Appendix A.
The majority of the report contains overall percentages and averages which, given the high capture rate, are unlikely to be significantly affected by small amounts of missing data. There is no reason to suspect that there are systematic differences between the data reported here and the small amount of missing data. Even so, the findings in this report are based only on the broadcasts and campaign news stories actually watched and analyzed by project staff. Television news broadcasts are often pre-empted or replaced by late running sporting events, particularly on weekends. As a result, the number of broadcasts for each station is based on broadcasts where the regular news programs actually aired, not the number of broadcasts a station would have aired without being pre-empted or replaced.
All Spanish-language coding was conducted by bi-lingual coders who underwent the same intensive training process as English-language coders.