Non-stop media coverage of US campaign comes in for critique

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2008 (AFP) – Americans say the media are devoting too much ink and airtime to the US presidential race, amid growing criticism that news coverage has focused on the superficial instead of important issues. Half of the public, 51 percent, say news outlets are offering “too much coverage of the campaign,” according to a weekly poll by the Pew Research Center.

That was a marked rise from January, when only 36 percent believed the news media was devoting too much attention to the White House race.

During the Pennsylvania primary vote last week, close to half of all news coverage concentrated on the campaign even though only 25 percent of the public said they were interested in the subject, the Pew survey said.

A majority of 54 percent said they wanted news organizations to devote more airtime to the global food shortage. Only three percent of all US news focused on the food shortages, compared to 44 percent on the White House contest.

A narrow majority say the media coverage has been balanced towards the two Democratic candidates. Fifty-two percent say the press has been fair in its treatment of Senator Barack Obama, and 57 percent say coverage of his rival Hillary Clinton has been fair.

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