Chart shows topic distribution of media coverage of Romney from January 2-April 15.

According to the Pew Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) study on “How the Media Covered the 2012 Primary Campaign”, only 12% of Romney’s coverage was focused on his “personal life and public record”. This contrasts with GNI’s NewsPoll results, which shows that 34% of coverage about Romney was dedicated to his personality and background (Character, upper chart). We can also see that a large portion, (40%) of this coverage is negative to him.

Distribution of Romney's negative coverage by type of newsmaker. Jan 2-Apr 15.

When we examine this negative coverage, we can see what types of newsmakers are contributing to the negative coverage (lower chart). The lower chart shows the percentage of negative statements from various newsmaker types when Romney’s personal life (character) is being discussed. Over 50% of these personal attacks are coming from fellow GOP contenders, mainly Santorum and Gingrich. This is a reinforcement of how negative campaigning was a major strategy for the GOP candidates. Among other newsmaker types, citizens are also very critical of Romney. Over 13% of negative coverage about Romney’s personal life comes from citizens. This amplification shows how the media was inclined to focus on the storyline of Romney being disconnected from citizens. It will be interesting to see how Romney tries to counteract this amplifciation. Will he feel the need to show a more casual side of himself in order to beat Obama in the general election? If so, what will eb the effect of this strategy, and how will the media amplify the results?