Those who comment on the US presidential election in the social media make mainstream media pundits look like softies. A study by the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism shows Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are treated in a much more negative fashion on Facebook and Twitter than on television, radio and newspapers.
Overall the media coverage veers to the negative with Obama being let off a little more lightly than Romney.
Among the other findings of the study:
- Horse race coverage is down from 2008. Overall, 38% of the coverage coded during these two months was framed around what is typically called horse-race coverage, stories substantially concerned with the strategy and tactics of the campaign and the question of who was winning. That is down from four years ago, when 53% of the coverage studied during a similar period was focused on the horse race.
- Coverage of the candidate policy positions comprised the second-largest category of coverage, 22%, similar to 2008. Coverage of voter fraud laws and other political topics that largely did not involve the candidates was tied for the third-largest category at 9%, and was a subject that was almost nonexistent in the narrative four years earlier.
- Debate coverage was more about who won than what candidates said.
- The two candidates received similar amounts of coverage.
- Among the issues, the economy dominated but less so than in 2008.
- Of all the platforms studied, the tone of conversation was the most negative on Twitter.
- Network news viewers received a different narrative about the candidates depending on when they watched.