coverage sparks controversy
Iowa Presidential Politics.com
Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, sees it, reporters who judge his candidacy
as not viable and therefore do not cover it as extensively
as other presidential campaigns are doing a poor job of journalism.
As reporters see it, their job is to make exactly
those sorts of judgments.
Kucinich's Iowa campaign manager, John
Friedrich, said not only is media coverage of the Democratic
presidential nomination race too narrow but the media also are
trying to play
"The media is trying to select the presidential candidate," he
said. "Instead they should let the voters decide that."
But David Yepsen, a political columnist for the Des Moines
said the amount of coverage a presidential hopeful receives
is based on the chance the candidate has to get elected.
"[Kucinich] is not a serious candidate for the American presidency," he
said. "Dennis Kucinich will not be president of the
"We make judgments of what the reader is interested in, and
want to waste money on someone who has no chance of winning,"
Jodi Wilgoren, the New York Times Midwest bureau
chief, agreed with Yepsen that a candidate's viability
is central to media coverage.
Wilgoren, who is embedded with former Vermont Gov. Howard
campaign, said that Kucinich does not have an embedded New
York Times reporter because "he will never win
Yepsen said it is the media's job to determine
and make judgments about candidates' viability. He said
journalists to take on that responsibility.
"We get paid to make these judgments," he said.
On the contrary, Friedrich said, the media's role is not
to make judgments about a candidate's viability.
"The role of the press is to provide information," Friedrich
said, adding that it is up to the public to sort the
candidates out for themselves.
In fact, there may be other reasons besides perceived viability
for variations in the amount of attention given to candidates,
Morning News reporter
Robert G. Hillman.
"Covering a political campaign is horribly expensive," he
The media's resources are limited; newspapers only have "X number
of people and X number of dollars," Hillman said.
But covering a
campaign requires travel expenditures. In addition, newspapers
have to bring
crew, which makes coverage especially costly for them, Hillman
Media organizations therefore must make choices
about what stories, specific events and candidates to
cover, he said.
Yepsen said Friedrich's comments show his inability
to deal with the media. The columnist also pointed out that
Moines Register actually
has covered Kucinich. According to the newspaper's
Web site, as of Nov. 15, there had been 27 articles published
about Kucinich -- 38
fewer than about Dean, and 17 and 16 fewer than about
Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.,
The Register has published 44 articles about
Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., who received 5 percent support
caucus-goers in a Des Moines Register poll conducted
Nov. 2-5. That is 17 more stories than about Kucinich,
had support from 3 percent in the same poll and has campaigned
in Iowa only three days fewer than Edwards.
Kucinich also gets less coverage in the national media
compared to candidates who receive similar ratings in
the polls. For example, the Washington Post,
as of Nov. 15, had published six stories about Kucinich,
D-Conn., 16 about Edwards, and 20 about retired Gen.
Friedrich said Kucinich's poor results in the latest
polls could be due to poor media coverage
"If [the media] would cover [Kucinich] as seriously as other
candidates, he would do well in polls," he said.
Yepsen disagreed, adding there are numerous other ways
to get a political message out to the public other than
mainstream media. He mentioned Web sites, other online
news sources and on-the-ground efforts to bring out a
lot of people
Hillman, who has covered politics for 30 years and is currently
a White House correspondent for the Morning News,
said there can be a correlation between polls and media
coverage. But he stressed
are ways to have
fair and balanced coverage without having embedded reporters
assigned to specific campaigns.
A reporter can cover a trend and write issue stories
where all candidates get the chance to comment, he said.
Johan Bergenas at [email protected]
story was published in the Sac (City, IA) Sun on December 9,