Stark contrast in news coverage

May 3, 2010

I just sent the following letter to the editor to my local newspaper.  If it runs, I’ll let you know.

As a former news reporter, I was fascinated by the Tribune’s contrast in coverage when two major political figures appeared in Michigan on the same day.  On May 1st, in an event that had been publicized for months, current President Barack Obama addressed graduating students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  My oldest son was part of that graduating class. However, in a more recently scheduled event, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin addressed a crowd in Clarkston that same day.

Which political figure garnered more ink and reporter time from the Tribune?  Sarah Palin.

Palin received more than double the news space compared to Obama.  Palin’s story covered about 37 column inches, while Obama’s story received about 17 column inches.  That doesn’t include headlines.  But Palin’s story was topped by headlines totaling 16 words.  Obama’s story received a total of 14 headline words.

But what I find even more fascinating is that the Tribune sent one of its own reporters to cover Palin’s address.  But it relied on wire service reporters to cover what the President said.

The bottom line is that the Tribune chose to devote more of its local resources, in both news personnel and news ink, to an address by a former Governor compared to a rare address by a sitting President at U of M.



  1. Good for you, Cindy. Letters like this appear is our local paper on a regular basis. I think newspapers in general have moved their coverage to the right, in our case it’s because the paper now has conservative owners, that’s the way they identify themselves. When our subscription runs out we will not renew. My husand and I are tired of coverage of the sensational instead of the productive, news of the negative events instead of the positive. I recently asked a group of like-minded folks why this has changed, and consensus is that the media like conflict and sensationalization of the news. The sad truth is that I can get that anywhere and I don’t need it in my local newspaper.

  2. Thanks for your insights, Sharon. I feel that news coverage has changed quite a bit over the last 30 years.

  3. Cindy, First — congrats to your son! I recall my son’s graduation day, two years ago this May, very vividly. What a golden day! You must be so proud.

    One another note. For a lot of reasons, I no longer subscribe to The Daily Tribune. I suspect that the communities it serves, judging from the SoundOff comments in the recent past, are Republican blue collar and definitely fit the Sarah Palin/Tea Party profile …And that’s the buzz I get from talking to a lot of people in those areas as well.

    Newspapers often reflect their area of readership, as you know. I meet fewer Obama fans in these parts, sad to say. Sarah Palin appeals to people who are angry, ill-informed, reactionary, and, IMHO, not the sharpest tools in the tool box. That’s why she wasn’t invited to speak at the U-M grad ceremony 🙂

  4. […] was finally printed…sort of May 19, 2010 You may recall that I recently posted about a letter to the editor addressed to our local sort-of daily newspaper.  My letter contrasted the more than two-to-one […]

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