Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Newspaper Coverage of Ron Paul in Iowa: B+

Newspapers have nothing like the clout they once had - 24/7 cable news and even more so the Internet have gobbled up the newspapers' lunch. But they still show up on lots of breakfast tables and commuter trains, not to mention hotel rooms, and they're still read by millions of people. So, in the view of the shabby treatment Ron Paul has received by TV news operations such as ABC, I thought it would be a good idea to take a glance at how newspapers reported the results of the Iowa Straw Poll earlier this week - in particular, were they accurate and complete in their coverage, with explicit inclusion of the fact that Ron Paul came in an impressive fifth, or halfway up the ladder.

The newspaper coverage was good-to-mixed.

Ron Paul was not only mentioned in this USA Today article, but a picture of him giving autographs to supporters was at the top of the story. The New York Times did the right thing in its article about the results of the Iowa Straw Poll, especially with this background -

If the Romney and Brownback campaigns had fleets of buses to ferry their supporters to Ames, a central Iowa city of about 50,000, loyalists of Representative Ron Paul of Texas appeared to come on their own. But come they did, with a crowd of a few hundred overflowing his white tent.

“I don’t make predictions, but I do say we are going to do very well!” Mr. Paul said, screaming to be heard over his audience. “How can anybody turn down the possibility to vote for freedom and hope?”

This is impressive and encouraging - USA Today with over two million circulation and The New York Times with about a million are the most read newspapers in the country. (You may or not need an account on the NY Times web site to read the above article.)

But the Washington Post, certainly almost if not completely as influential as The New York Times, left Ron Paul completely out its Romney Wins Iowa's GOP Poll article. This was- why? Because Ron Paul is not Washington insider? It doesn't matter what the reason is, Ron Paul should have been in this article.

In terms of what most Americans in most states read, however, it's likely not the Washington Post or The New York Times. News wires such as AP (Associated Press) are carried in hundreds of major newspapers around the country.

How did Ron Paul do there?

Here's an expert from Mike Glover's AP story about the results of the Iowa Straw Poll, which ran in the San Diego Union Tribune -

Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo has made illegal immigration his signature issue and scored a fourth-place showing with 1,961 votes, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who has developed an Internet-driven following, came in fifth with 1,305 votes.

The AP usually puts out numerous, updated versions of its major stories, so I can't guarantee that the above appeared in every newspaper. But it is certainly the story that now appears online.

All in all, then, newspapers did pretty well in their coverage of Ron Paul and the Iowa Straw Poll. The Washington Post is a major, regrettable exception, but does not seem to be in the majority of newspaper coverage. And, as unacceptable as the Washington Post's poor coverage was, it is still not in the same league as ABC's outrageous failure to mention Ron Paul's first place position in reporting the results of its own poll, or in showing just a lone Ron Paul supporter an Iowa rally, when in fact there were throngs. Further, ABC is one of just three major national, non-cable news networks - in contrast to the Washington Post being one of many important newspapers in this country.

Perhaps our broadcast media still have a bit to learn from our print media. Maybe newspaper reporters are more attuned to what's being posted on the Internet, because newspapers and the Internet are primarily written media, in contrast to broadcasting.

In any case, I'll be keeping my eye on how all the media in our country are covering Ron Paul and his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination. I want to be well prepared for my Fall classes at Fordham, where I'll be teaching about this in the Fall.

See also - ABC's Abuse of American Electorate to Be Included in my Curriculum This Fall

and More ABC News Distortion to be Included in My Curriculum

and The Media Disenfranchising of Ron Paul
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