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Study Shows McCain Media Coverage Mostly Negative

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The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s report shows John McCain’s media coverage has been 57 percent negative, while Barack Obama’s has been 29% negative.

John McCain may long for the days when Barack Obama got the lion’s share of the media attention: Coverage of the Republican candidate has been overwhelmingly negative since the conventions ended, a study released Wednesday found.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s report illustrates how the media echo chamber can send things spiraling out of control for a candidate. It’s likely to give ammunition to people who say the press has been biased against McCain, but the organization said its findings on this were inconclusive.

“It’s quite possible for there to be elements of enthusiasm for one candidate or another,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Washington-based think tank. “That’s a failure of professionalism if it’s there. But this report can’t suss it out.”

McCain and Obama have received an equal amount of media attention since the conventions.

The project judged 57 percent of the stories about McCain as negative, with 14 percent positive. The rest were neutral.

Obama’s coverage was mixed: 36 percent positive, 29 percent negative, 35 percent neutral, the study found.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin has received three times the press attention as the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Joe Biden, the study found. Her stories were judged 39 percent negative, 33 percent mixed and 28 percent positive.

Palin’s coverage started out positive but turned when reporters went to Alaska to check on her record as governor. The study found only 5 percent of the stories were about Palin’s family, most of them in the days after it was revealed her daughter was pregnant.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism studied some 2,412 stories from 48 news outlets for its study, including newspapers, Web sites and broadcast and cable news. A smaller sample, 857 stories, was used to judge the tone of the coverage.

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