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Thomas E. Patterson
Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press
HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Patterson, Thomas E. "News Coverage of the 2016 National Conventions: Negative News, Lacking Context." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP16-051, September 2016.
Live television coverage of the national party conventions gives the nominees the opportunity to present themselves unmediated and at length to the American people. There’s no moment in the presidential campaign when the candidates so fully control the message as during the party conventions. Yet the live coverage is not the only version of the party conventions. Americans are also exposed to a secondhand rendition, one that is highly mediated. It’s the news media’s version of the convention, where the prevailing voices are not those of the nominees but instead those of reporters. Figure 1 shows just how true that was of the 2016 convention period. On television and in the newspapers, journalists were the voice behind roughly seven out of every ten news reports about the candidates. The nominees were heard speaking for themselves in less than one in ten reports.
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