Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Study claims that there are more ads than news coverage in Kentucky's US Senate race

According to a study released by the University of Kentucky's Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, Lexington-area TV stations aired nearly $3 million in ads while giving viewers few stories about the hotly-contested US Senate race between incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat businessman Bruce Lunsford. (Hat tip: Pol Watchers, which stated that none of the Lexington-area news directors had any comment on the study.)

The study states that "[t]hrough Oct. 20, candidates bought 9,573 commercials for $2,393,347, and interest groups bought 1,475 for $519,305, for totals of 11,048 and $2,912,652. Most of the ads were 30 seconds long, but some of McConnell’s were 60 seconds. Even if all the ads had lasted 30 seconds each, the purchases would have amounted to 5,524 minutes of advertising, or just over 92 hours."

"From Sept. 1 through Oct. 20, on their regularly scheduled news programs, the four Lexington television stations aired 77 reports on the race, dealing with 26 news events or enterprise stories. Those reports consumed 44 minutes of broadcast time, a very small percentage of the 704 hours, minus commercial time, the stations devoted to news broadcasts during the initial study period. (The few news programs that were delayed because of sports broadcasts were not examined. Neither were WKYT news shows that appeared on the local CW affiliate when pre-empted by football games.)"

Click here to view the Institute's news release. Interestingly, the study stated that most Kentuckians do not read daily or weekly newspapers and rely more on television. However, as stated on this blog the past few months, the "mainstream" Old Media--including both over-the-air broadcast TV and newspapers--are in decline and more people are turning to alternative sources of news such as Fox News and the Internet, where there is more balance. Just today, Gannett, the owner of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, announced job cuts. The Christian Science Monitor announced that effective in April, it will no longer publish a daily version of its well-regarded paper and instead rely on the Internet and a weekly magazine.


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