This post is the continuation of our media monitoring series examining coverage behavior of various media outlets during Election 2012. Today’s post discusses the statistical data analysis of the sourcing and sentiment behaviors of the Los Angeles Times.
In election coverage by the Los Angeles Times from May to November, Obama had more favorable coverage than Romney, as well as less negative coverage. In most other print outlets, Romney had a considerably better sentiment ratio. In the New York Times, for instance, Obama had much more negative, and much less positive coverage than Romney. The fact that the LA Times had even slightly more favorable coverage toward Obama makes it an outlier.
This becomes more surprising when we look at the top newsmakers. In the LA Times’ coverage of the election from May-November, Romney had a much higher VoiceShare than Obama. He received almost double the coverage than Obama. Romney staff also received more coverage than Obama’s staff; Paul Ryan had a 2.3% VoiceShare while Biden ‘s was just 0.7%. Additionally, Ann Romney and anonymous Romney staffers received more coverage than their Obama counterparts. One would think that with all of this coverage, Romney and his campaign would have been able to influence coverage and swing the sentiment needle to their favor.
Instead, the sentiment of the 3rd-party newsmakers (those outside of the campaigns) in the LA Times coverage did in Romney. Over 60% of the negative coverage toward Romney came from these 3rd-party newsmakers. Among those newsmakers, analysts and commentators were the most brutal toward Romney; 31.3% of Romney’s negative coverage came from these two groups. Partisans and former politicians were also negative toward Romney, with almost 20% of Romney’s negative coverage coming from these newsmaker groups. Interestingly, over one quarter (25.5%) of the negative coverage of Romney by partisans and former politicians came from Republicans. Using the weight of negative sentiment by other sources besides candidates is something we saw in a different form in yesterday’s analysis of the Wall Street Journal.
When we break down Romney’s sources of negative coverage by topic among newsmakers outside of the campaigns, we learn that over one-third (37.1%) was about Strategy and over one-quarter (25.9%) was about Character. In the final stretches of the campaign, Romney received significant negative coverage on his Strategy in many outlets, not only the LA Times. In the LA Times coverage, fellow Republicans were especially harsh toward Romney on his Strategy and Character. His “47%” comment, the Jeep ad, and other miscues drew harsh rebukes from the GOP. The extent to which Republicans went negative toward Romney on his Strategy and Character became clear in this post election analysis.
While Romney and his team carried significant influence in the LA Times election coverage, their dominance in VoiceShare was not enough to drown out the other myriad of voices that cast criticism on the GOP candidate. Surprisingly among these voices were fellow Republicans, who threw Romney under the bus after the election for what they perceived to be a weak campaign strategy.