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Subject: AEJ 03 FicoF NWS Partisan and Structural Balance in News Stories Covering Incumbent and Open Elections for Governor in Michigan
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 1 Oct 2003 06:14:56 -0400
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Partisan and Structural Balance in News Stories Covering Incumbent and Open
Elections for Governor in Michigan

By

Frederick Fico
and
Eric Freedman

School of Journalism
Michigan State University


A paper submitted to the Newspaper Division of AEJMC for consideration for
presentation at the annual convention in Kansas City, Missouri, July 2003.

Frederick Fico is a professor in the School of Journalism at MSU, where
Eric Freedman is visiting assistant professor.
 Abstract: Partisan and Structural Balance in News Stories covering
Incumbent and Open                  Governor's Races in Michigan


        A comparison of news stories about Michigan gubernatorial races 1998 and
2002 shows that the open race in 2002 was covered in a more even-handed way
than the 1998 election, in which an incumbent sought reelection.  The
proportion of stories favoring the challenger was much higher in 1998 than
was the proportion favoring either major candidate in 2002.  An equal
proportion of stories on the 2002 election favored each candidate.

        Moreover, individual stories in 2002 were more likely to be constructed to
give more equal space and prominence to electoral opponents.   A gender
difference was found in the coverage of the 2002 governor's race,  in which
one candidate was the first woman nominated by a major
party.  Specifically,  male reporters wrote more stories giving more
attention and space to the male candidate; the opposite was true for
stories by female reporters.


Partisan/Structural Balance
INTRODUCTION

        Candidates in elections attempt to promote the agenda of issues and
personal qualities they think will lead to success.  Candidates attempt to
get this agenda covered by the news media so that they can effectively
mobilize their supporters and persuade undecided voters.  Candidates do
this in a variety of ways that include issuing position papers, giving
speeches, holding rallies and participating in debates.
        The normative assumption of democracy is that voters consider the
competing claims of candidates and support those with whom they most
agree.  But this assumption requires that voters are first exposed to the
views of candidates, particularly through news media coverage of their
campaigns.
        Correspondingly, the normative assumption for news organizations covering
an election is that they report competing partisan claims in a fair and
impartial manner.  Obviously such news media coverage will depend on
numerous factors specific to each election. Certainly too, the qualities
and activities of candidates can draw journalistic attention
differentially.  And journalistic attention may also differ as a result of
differences in news organization resources and in the qualities of its
reporters.
        This study therefore explores factors that are both extrinsic and
intrinsic to the manner in which news organizations cover
elections.  Outside the control of the news media is the incumbency or
challenger status of the candidates themselves, and the differential way in
which they can "create news" that must be covered.  But qualities of the
news organizations and their reporters will also influence the election
coverage, especially the priority given it by editors and the specialized
training and experience reporters have in covering government.
        This study has two goals in examining such treatment.  First, this study
assesses the partisan and structural balance of the election coverage to
determine objectively how even or uneven it was.  The partisan balance of
stories considers whether the aggregate of all stories on the election gave
more space and attention to one or the other candidate.  The structural
balance of stories considers whether individual stories likely to be
encountered by readers gave more space and attention to one or the other
candidate.  Partisan balance therefore addresses actual bias  whether
intended or not  in the total coverage of an election, while structural
bias addresses the chance that readers may perceive bias  whether actual
or not  depending on how the individual stories they encounter present the
candidates.
        Second, this study assesses influences on the partisan and structural
balance of the news coverage.  Specifically, the study compares results
of  two elections that differ in the incumbency status of the candidates to
determine how that societal factor may have influenced the partisan and
structural balance of news coverage.  Guided by previous research, the
study also attempts to assess how differences in news organization
resources and newsroom norms also influence such partisan and structural
story qualities.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
        Incumbency and News Coverage
        Clarke and Evans in a benchmark study of media coverage of congressional
elections noted that incumbents are much more likely to get favorable press
attention, whatever their party.1  Specifically, the coverage of incumbents
emphasized their experience and qualifications, while the coverage of
challengers dwelled on their campaign weaknesses and problems.   Clarke and
Evans pointed to possible explanations for this pattern that included the
incumbents' routine access to the press, the increasing saliency of
incumbency as party identification has declined, and the ability of
incumbents to render newsworthy service to their districts.
        In a study to extend that research, however, Fico et. al. suggested that
incumbency advantages vary with the level of the election.2  Specifically,
they noted  research by Miller that found press attention varying with the
size of the constituency an official served, and suggested that coverage of
higher-level elections might differ from coverage of more local ones.3  The
Fico et. al. study of a U.S. presidential race, a U.S. Senate race, 18
congressional races and 18 statehouse races in Michigan found predicted
incumbency advantages in press coverage at the congressional and statehouse
levels, but not for the U.S. Senate and presidential races.
        Moreover, Fico and Cote found in subsequent studies of  coverage of
elections for governor in Michigan in 1994 and 1998 that stories gave much
more space and attention to the Democratic challengers than to the
Republican incumbent.4  They further found in a study of 1996
elections  that Republican challengers for the U.S. Senate and the U.S.
presidency were given more story space and attention than their  Democratic
incumbent opponents.5
        However, studying network news coverage of 1992 and 1996 presidential
elections, Lowry and Shidler explicitly tested the notion that incumbents
get more critical attention than challengers because the incumbents' track
records provide targets for criticism.6   Their data, they concluded, was
more consistent with an interpretation of network liberal bias against
Republican candidates, whether they were incumbents or challengers.
        Certainly blatant political bias on the part of news media organizations
and personnel is possible.  But it also is plausible that reporters give
challengers more attention than incumbents in high-level elections because
of the importance of the office, especially if the views and experiences of
challengers are less known to the public.  Challengers also may get more
attention because they deliberately shape their campaigns to match news
values for activity and drama, with the result that they get more coverage.
However, when  Fico and Cote asked reporters following the 1994 governor's
election to assess their own coverage, reporters did not cite such a
rationale for their greater attention to the challenger in that race.
        Influences on Election Coverage
        A number of societal, news organization and reporter qualities may
influence stories covering an election.  In particular, these influences
may affect the degree to which stories are more or less even-handed in
their treatment of electoral opponents.
        Shoemaker and Reese posit that news content is the product of influences
at five levels, with each higher level constraining lower-level
influences.7 At the societal level, factors such as ideology, legal
political arrangements and other institutions constrain what the media can
do.  The kind of media organization, its resources and its goals will in
turn constrain the actions and routines of its personnel.  At the news
organizational level, resources and goals will influence the numbers of
staff available and how they are deployed.  Within the news organization,
editorial rewards and sanctions reinforce the routines, norms and values
that reporters follow.  And finally, the personal characteristics of the
individual journalists will influence how they recognize news values,
search for sources, and write their stories.
        This research applies this hierarchy-of-influences approach to election
story space and attention given candidates.  At the societal level, the
media must respond to the operation of the political process in how it
covers elections, including the incumbency or challenger status of the
contenders and the differential attention they can command.  At the
organization level, staff resources available to cover an election
influence the qualities in the resulting stories.  All other things equal,
the more staff a news organization has, the more thoroughly it will be able
to search out and use sources that may result in more even-handed and
in-depth treatment of controversy such as elections.  Moreover,
organizational resources will determine whether reporters can be assigned
to specialized bureaus that permit them to cover stories in more depth and
with more attention to different source perspectives.  Fico and Cote
found  that staff size was related to the deployment of reporters to more
specialized bureaus, and that such bureau stories were more even-handed
than others in their coverage of  the 1998 governor's race candidates.
        Within newsrooms, one of the most salient cues editors can give reporters
for the qualities they seek in stories is prominent placement.  Prominence
story placement means prestige for the reporter.  But prominent story
placement also means that stories get more public scrutiny, and possible
criticism for lapses in perceived fairness.  Tuchmann has called the news
media concern for getting "both sides" in a controversy a "strategic
ritual" to avoid criticism from partisans.8  Editors designating stories
for Page One presumably would seek adherence to such a ritual, and
communicate that concern to reporters.  Moreover, over time, reporters
would observe the qualities of stories on Page One, and model their own
story sourcing and writing accordingly.  Fico and Cote found in studies on
the 1996 presidential race the 1998 governor's race that more prominently
placed stories tended to be more even in their treatment of candidates.

HYPOTHESES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
        Few studies have used this hierarchy-of-influence approach to define
variables and the interrelationships among them that may govern news story
balance in treatment of contending viewpoints on some controversy.  This
approach can help build mass communication theory because it provides a
logical and structured framework for a cohesive research program into
identifying direct and indirect influences on media content.  Identifying
such influences and the way they operate could make it possible to explain
and predict future coverage characteristics.  Even more, this approach
could identify those factors that could be deliberately monitored and
changed by news personnel to better control and shape their coverage.
        The research cited above suggests the following societal-level hypotheses
relating the incumbency status of the candidates to election coverage:
        H1: Election stories covering an open race will be more even in their
partisan balance                            than election stories covering
a race with an incumbent.
        H2: Election stories covering an open race will be more structurally
balanced than will                          stories covering a race with an
incumbent.

        Moreover, this research presents an opportunity to replicate results from
previous studies with hypotheses that relate newsroom-characteristics to
qualities in election stories:
        H3: Stories written by statehouse bureau reporters will be more even in
their partisan                              balance than stories written by
other reporters.
        H4: Stories written by statehouse bureau reporters will be more
structurally balanced
                     than will stories written by other reporters.
        H5: Stories given more prominent placement will be more even in their
partisan balance                         than will stories given less
prominent placement.
        H6: Stories given more prominent placement will be more structurally
balanced than will                      stories given less prominent placement.

        The 2002 election in Michigan was unprecedented because a woman was a
major party's nominee for governor for the first time.  In the
Shoemaker-Reese hierarchy of influences on news content, reporter
perspectives and biases associated with gender would be the kind of
individual-level influences that should be constrained by newsroom norms
and values.  However, reporters have considerable gate-keeping power in the
way they search for and use sources in stories.  Possibly, then, male and
female reporters differed in the partisan and structural balance of stories
they wrote on this election.  Hence:
        RQ1: Did stories written by male and female reporters differ in their
partisan balance?
        RQ2: Did stories written by male and female reporters differ in their
structural balance?

METHOD
        The 2002 governor's race in Michigan pitted Republican Lt. Gov. Dick
Posthumus against Democrat Jennifer Granholm, the state attorney
general.  Posthumus easily defeated a challenge by a state senator to win
his party's nomination.  But Granholm had to win a hard-fought, three-way
primary campaign against  a former Democratic governor and a well-known
U.S. representative.  In the general election, Granholm consistently led in
the polls, and she won in November with 51 percent to Posthumus' 47 percent
(minor party candidates obtained the remainder of the vote).
        A content analysis was conducted of all news stories on this election in
Michigan's nine largest dailies, and the results compared with those from
an identically conducted study in 1998.9  The study newspapers  account for
the vast majority of daily circulation in the state, and ranged in
circulation from more than 50,000 to more than 300,000.
        The election stories included in this study ran from the Labor Day start
of the official campaign to Election Day in November.  The individual story
was the unit of analysis.  Editorials, columns and letters-to-the-editor
were excluded, as were "Q&A"-type stories in which candidates were quoted
at length in response to prepared questions.
        Stories were first read to see if they contained quoted or paraphrased
assertions from the candidates and their supporters.10   The number of
sources making such assertions in support of each candidate was
counted.  The total number of paragraphs of assertions attributed to these
sources was counted, as well as their location in each story.
        Partisan and Structural Balance Measures
        These dependent variable measures were identical to those used in previous
research by Fico and Cote.  Four components of each election story were
assessed and were used to create indices for partisan and structural balance.
        The first component was determined by counting the total paragraphs
containing assertions supporting Granholm or Posthumus, to see if either
candidate got more.  The second component identified whether the first
paragraph lead of the story contained assertions supporting Granholm alone,
Postuhumus alone, both candidates or neither candidate.  The third
component identified whether assertions supporting only Granholm or
Posthumus appeared in paragraphs two through five, or whether those
paragraphs contained assertions for both candidates or for neither.  The
fourth component similarly identified whether assertions supporting only
Granholm or only Posthumus, both or neither, appeared in paragraphs six
through ten.
        To create the partisan balance index, each of these components was first
judged to favor Republican Posthumus, to favor Democrat Granholm, to be
balanced (because support assertions for both candidates were equally
present in the component) or to be irrelevant (because no support
assertions were present).  The candidate favored by the most components was
therefore judged to have been favored by the story.  For example, a story
would be judged the most imbalanced possible toward Posthumus if it gave
him: (a)  more total paragraphs of space than the opponent; (b) an
assertion in the lead, but not the opponent; (c) at least one assertion in
paragraphs two through five, but not the opponent; and (d) at least one
assertion in paragraphs six through ten, but not the opponent.  The story
would be judged the most balanced possible if it gave identical space and
assertion placement to each candidate in each of the four components.  The
story could also be judged as balanced  if candidates "split" the
components (for example, both candidates obtained an equal number of story
paragraphs, only Granholm partisans made an assertion in the lead, only
Posthumus partisans made assertions  in paragraphs two through five, and
neither candidate's partisans made assertions in paragraphs six through ten).
        To create the structural balance index, the four components were used to
determine the degree to which the same candidate dominated the story,
regardless of who that candidate was.  To assess this, the number of
components favoring the Republican was subtracted from the number of
components favoring the Democrat, and then the absolute value of that
number was used.  The resulting index could range from 0, indicating a
story structurally balanced between the two candidates (and also balanced
on the partisan index), to 4, indicating that the same candidate was
favored on each of the four components.
        Validity and Reliability of Balance Measures
        The balance indices clearly give more weight to the prominence of story
attention to candidate assertions.  This notion of balance is therefore
"reader driven," in that a story in which one candidate's positions are
presented first and then the opponent's  may not be perceived as balanced
by readers who leave the story before the second candidate's perspective is
presented. The validity of this approach to assessing balance, therefore,
depends on the assumption that stories are read from the top down, and that
readers have a greater likelihood of encountering candidate assertions when
they are higher rather than lower in a story.
        A two-person coder reliability assessment for this study's balance
measures was performed on approximately 10 percent of stories sampled from
all relevant ones.  All component  variables had percentage of agreement
scores between 90 and 100 percent and Scott Pi scores that ranged from .9
to 1.0.
        Explanatory Variables
        Explanatory variables used in this study include the type of reporter, the
prominence of story placement and the gender of the reporter.  Reporter
type was determined by bylines, which identified reporters as being regular
staff, assigned to the newspaper's Capitol bureau, working for Associated
Press or working for another other news service.  Reporter gender was
determined from bylines, but news organizations also were called to
determine whether a reporter was male or female when the name was
ambiguous.  Stories that carried no byline were coded as of unknown gender
origin.  Story prominence was ranked on a three-point scale, in which the
least prominent story ran on an inside page, the next most prominent story
ran on a section front page and the most prominent story ran on Page One.
        Analysis of Data
        Hypotheses and questions on the partisan balance of stories were assessed
using the proportions of all stories that favored Posthumus, Granholm or
were evenly balanced (as measured in this study) between the
two.  Hypotheses and questions on the structural balance of stories were
assessed by computing the balance for each story and then getting the mean
balance score for stories relating to reporter type, prominence and
reporter gender.  These data are from the universe of election stories and
do not require inferential statistics for generalization.
RESULTS
        Some 275 stories were included in this study because they focused on the
governor's race of 2002, and 266 of them contained partisan assertions and
were therefore analyzed further. About a third of the stories were produced
by regular staff, another third by newspaper statehouse bureau reporters
and the final third by Associated Press (30 percent) or other news services
(3 percent).  About six in 10 stories ran inside, while 32 percent were
displayed on Page One.  About 57 percent of the stories were written by
male reporters and 36 percent by female reporters.  The genders of the
reporter producing 7 percent of the stories could not be determined.
        Election Type and Balance
        The 266 stories containing partisan assertions in 2002 were compared with
400 stories containing such assertions in 1998.  Overall, the election
coverage in 2002 was more balanced in both partisan and structural
dimensions, as assessed by measures employed in these studies.
        Hypothesis 1 predicting that stories would be more evenly balanced between
the two candidates in 2002 than in 1998 was supported (see Table 1).  The
percentage of stories supporting the Republican and Democrat in 1998
differed by 16 percentage points, compared to a 1 percentage point
difference in 2002.  Interestingly, nearly equal percentages of stories in
both years were evenly balanced between the two candidates.
        Hypothesis 2 predicting that the 2002 stories would be more structurally
balanced than those in 1998 was also supported (see Table 2).  Some 53
percent of the 2002 stories were either the most balanced or were
imbalanced by only a single component, compared to 38 percent of the 1998
stories that were the most balanced or were imbalanced by only a single
component.  Moreover, only 21 percent of the 2002 stories were imbalanced
by as many as three or four scale components, compared to 37 percent of the
stories in 1998.  Finally, the average imbalance of stories in 2002 was
1.61 compared to 1.98 in 1998.
        Influences on Balance
        Stories on the 2002 election were assessed to determine the influence of
reporter type, story prominence and reporter gender on partisan and
structural balance.
        Hypothesis 3 predicting that stories produced by statehouse bureau
reporters would display more partisan balance was not supported (see Table
3).  Bureau stories differed in their favoring of Posthumus and Granholm by
10 percentage points, a bigger spread than for any other type of reporter
except the "others."
        Hypothesis 4 predicting that stories produced by statehouse bureau
reporters would display more structural balance was partially supported
(see Table 4).  Statehouse bureau stories were less imbalanced structurally
than those produced by regular staff and "other" reporters, but were not
less imbalanced than stories produced by Associated Press reporters.
        Hypothesis 5 predicting that more prominently placed stories would display
more partisan balance than less prominently displayed stories was not
supported (see Table 3).  Page One stories showed the greatest difference
between the two candidates, while section front page stories exhibited the
least. A greater percentage of Page One stories was balanced between the
two candidates, compared to the percentage of balanced stories run inside
or on section front pages.
        Hypothesis 6 predicting the more prominently placed stories would be more
structurally balanced was supported (see Table 4).  Page One stories had
the least structural imbalance, followed by section front page stories and
stories that ran inside.
        Gender and Balance
        Research Question One asked if reporter gender was associated with any
difference in the partisan balance of stories.  In general, male reporters
wrote more stories in which Posthumus was given more space and prominence,
while women reporters wrote more stories in which Granholm was given more
space and prominence (See Table 3).  Interestingly, stories balanced
between the two candidates made up the same proportion of stories written
by male and female reporters.
        Research Question Two asked if gender made any difference in the
structural balance of stories.  Differences in structural balance of
stories produced by male and female reporters were much less pronounced
than was the case for the partisan balance of stories (See Table 4).
        However, a more striking reporter gender difference existed in the
structural balance of stories favoring Posthumus and Granholm.  In general,
stories favoring Granholm had more balance components dominated by her
partisans than was the case for stories favoring Posthumus (see Table
4).  However, this difference was largely the result of stories written by
female reporters that favored Granholm.   Specifically, the difference in
the structural balance scores of stories favoring Posthumus and Granholm
written by  female reporters was three times that difference for stories by
male reporters.    For female reporters, that difference favored Granholm,
while for male reporters the much smaller difference favored Posthumus.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
        Results from this study give emphasis to the societal context within which
news organizations cover elections.  Although each electoral campaign at
each electoral level can be unique, the incumbency or challenger status of
the candidates will be an important influence on the balance of stories
written about it.  Results from this research show that at least for high
visibility elections, challengers are likely to get more attention in
stories than incumbents.  When an incumbent is not on the ballot in a
high-visibility election, stories are more likely to "balance out" in the
total attention given candidates, and individual stories are also more
likely to present both candidates in a more even way.
        This research, however, has severe limitations in method and in the scope
to which it may be relevant.  A content analysis cannot, for instance,
illuminate actual biases that journalists may have that in turn may bias
stories in ways not measured in this research approach.  Moreover, this
sample is limited to the largest daily newspapers in one state, and while
patterns found in this study may be more broadly present, study replication
will be needed to substantiate this.   Future research therefore should
specifically examine challenger and incumbent elections in a number of
states.  Within states, such elections might also be tracked across time,
as this study has done.
        Other influences require surveys and focused interviews to explore.  For
example, do reporters and editors intentionally give more space and
prominence to the views of candidates they deem likely to lose?  If this is
so, do they see this as an effort to be fair in a broader social
sense?  Moreover, in an election in which an incumbent is running against a
challenger, do reporters and editors attempt to compensate for the
incumbent's office-holding ability to "make news" by giving less attention
to the incumbent's campaign more attention to challengers?
        Moreover, results from this study may not be applicable to broadcast
media.  Indeed, the findings from this research contradict a network
election study that explicitly tested and refuted the notion that
challengers get more favorable attention.  However, it may be that this
contradiction exists because the present research objectively measured
space and attention to candidates, rather than judging qualitatively the
tone of the attention.  Future research should adapt the present partisan
and structural balance measures to incumbent and open elections covered by
broadcast media.  Further, more qualitative assessments of story tone could
supplement these measures in studies of both print and broadcast election
coverage.
        This research mostly replicated findings from previous studies that found
that the institutional status of reporters influences the structural (but
not partisan) balance of election stories.  Statehouse bureau reporters
were more likely than their newsroom-based colleagues to write individual
stories that gave more even treatment to electoral
opponents.  Surprisingly, however, wire service reporters were equally
likely to do this, contrary to expectations from previous
research.    Possibly this is the result of unique influences on Associated
Press coverage in this state, and replication is needed to illuminate
stable patterns in wire service coverage.
        Prominent stories were more balanced structurally, and the assumption in
this research is that editors influence reporters to give more even space
and attention to candidates when stories are likely to get more reader
attention.  However, it could be argued that the influence works the other
way  that well balanced stories are perceived by editors to be better
stories, and therefore more worthy to be given prominent display.  Still,
such a process of editorial judgment would have the effect of influencing
reporters over time to produce more structurally balanced stories.
        The reporter gender differences found in this study are striking.  Again,
this result may be unique to the specific election and its circumstances
that these reporters covered.  However, it is clear that journalistic norms
and values do not always take precedence over the individual
characteristics and values of reporters.  Future research will be needed to
determine if male and female reporters routinely cover candidates of their
gender differently.
        Obviously too, many other influences on story partisan and structural
balance have not been taken into account in the present research.  But the
hierarchy-of-influence approach suggested by Shoemaker and Reese
provides  a structured and logical framework for carrying out the research
program of studies necessary to fully explore influences on specific
aspects of election coverage.  Even more, as such influences are
illuminated, news media managers may be able to use such knowledge to
better shape coverage to better serve their audiences.
 REFERENCES

        1.  Peter Clarke and Susan Evans,  Covering Campaigns (Stanford, Calif.:
Stanford University Press, 1983).

        2.  Frederick Fico, John Clogston and Gary Pizante, "Influence of Party
and Incumbency on 1984 Michigan Election Coverage," Journalism Quarterly 65
(Autumn 1988): 709-713.

        3.  Susan Miller, "News Coverage of Congress: The Search for the Ultimate
Spokesman" Journalism Quarterly 54 (Autumn 1977): 459-465.

        4.  See: Frederick Fico and William Cote, "Fairness and Balance in
Election Reporting," Newspaper Research Journal 18 (Summer/Fall 1997):
50-64; Frederick Fico and William Cote, "Partisan and Structural Balance of
News Coverage of the 1998 Governor's Race in Michigan," Mass Communication
& Society 5 (Spring 2002): 165-182.

        5.  Frederick Fico and William Cote, "Fairness and Balance of Stories in
Newspaper Coverage of the 1996 Presidential Election," Journalism & Mass
Communication Quarterly 71 (Spring 1999): 124-137.

        6.  Dennis Lowry and Jon Shidler, "The Sound Bites, the Bitters and the
Bitten: A Two Campaign Test of the Anti-Incumbent Bias Hypothesis in
Network TV News,"   Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 75
(1998):719-729.

        7.  Pamela Shoemaker and Stephen Reese,  Mediating the Message: Theories
of Influences on Mass Media Content  2nd ed. (White Plains, N.Y.: Longman,
1996.)

        8.  Gaye Tuchman, "Objectivity as Strategic Ritual," American Journal of
Sociology 77 (1972): 660-679.

        9.  Newspapers analyzed were the Saginaw News, the Macomb Daily, the
Kalamazoo Gazette, the Lansing State Journal, the Oakland Press, the Flint
Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.

        10.  Assertions were quoted or paraphrased statements explicitly linked to
candidates or their supporters with verbs of attribution indicating
speaking such as "said," "stated," "charged," etc.  Verbs denoting the
states of mind of candidates or their supporters (e.g., "feels," "thinks,"
"believes," etc.) were also considered assertions when it was clear that
such state-of-mind verbs were merely being used as synonyms for speaking
verbs such as "said."
               Although assertion position and length were assessed for each
story, the study did not assess the tone of the coverage in any qualitative
way.   This is a difference from other research in which tone of coverage
is judged to be "positive," "negative" or "neutral."

Table 1: Partisan Balance of Stories on the 1998 and 2002 Governor's Race
in Michigan                              (Percentage of Stories favoring
the Republican and Democrat)


                                        1998                    2002

Favors Republican                       35%                     42%
Favors Democrat                 51%                     43%
Balanced                                14%                     15%

        Story N                 400                     266





Table 2: Structural Balance Scores of Stories on the 1998 and 2002
Governor's Race in Michigan                 (Percentage of Stories balanced
or imbalanced toward one candidate*)
.
                                        1998                    2002

Most Balanced   0               14%                     16%
                        1               24%                     37%
                        2               25%                     27%
                        3               23%                     14%
Most Imbalanced 4               14%                       7%

        Story Average                   1.98                    1.61

        Story N                 400                     266

        *The higher the Structural Balance score, the more imbalanced the story is
in its treatment of the candidates.
        The most balanced story would give equal paragraph space to assertions
supporting both candidates, as well as including quoted or paraphrased
assertions from partisans for both candidates in the story lead, in
paragraphs two through five, and in paragraphs six through ten.
        The most imbalanced story would give such attention to only one of the
candidates.


 Table 3: Partisan Balance of Stories on the 2002 Governor's Race in
Michigan, by Story Origin,                  Story Prominence and Reporter
Gender (Percentage of Stories favoring the Republican                   and
Democratic candidate).


                                        Favors          Favors          Balanced        Story
                                        Republican      Democrat                           N

Story Origin
        Newspaper Staff           44%             48%              8%           87
        Newspaper Bureau                  46%             36%             19%           92
        Associated Press                  39%             41%             20%           79
        Other                             13%             75%             13%             8

Story Prominence
        Inside Page                       46%             42%             12%             155
        Section Front Page                41%             44%             16%           25
        Page One                          36%             43%             21%           86

Reporter Gender
        Male                              47%             37%             16%             152
        Female                    35%             50%             16%           97
        Can't Tell                        35%             53%             12%           17


 Table 4: Structural Balance Scores of the 2002 Governor's Race Stories in
Michigan, by Story          Origin, Story Prominence, Story Partisan
Balance and Reporter Gender*

                                             Story Score              Story N
        Story Origin
                Newspaper Staff         1.94                    87
                Newspaper Bureau                1.45                    92
                Associated Press                1.44                    79
                Other                           1.63                      8

        Story Prominence
                Inside Page                     1.74                    155
                Section Front Page              1.68                      25
                Page One                        1.37                      86

        Reporter Gender
                Male                            1.62                    152
                Female                  1.56                      97

        Story Partisan Balance
                Favors Republican               1.58                    112
                Favors Democrat         1.96                    113
                Balanced                         NA                       41

        Reporter Gender By Partisan Balance
                Male
                        Favors Republican       1.99                      72
                        Favors Democrat 1.84                      56
                        Balanced                 NA                       24
                Female
                        Favors Republican       1.53                      34
                        Favors Democrat 2.06                      48
                        Balanced                 NA                       15


*Higher scores indicate more story imbalance favoring one of the candidates.

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