Economic news on television: the determinants of coverage
Public Opinion Quarterly
Harrington, David E.
Abstract: This paper examines the television networks’ coverage of the unemployment rate, the inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index, and the growth rate of real GNP over the twelve years from 1973 through 1984. This time period includes two major recessions, two severe bursts of inflation, and three presidential elections. A common complaint is that the networks overemphasize bad economic news. Using two measures of coverage, this paper examines whether the television networks give greater coverage to these statistics when they are deteriorating. The empirical results reveal that the networks do give greater coverage to bad economic news during nonelection years, but this pattern disappears during election years. The empirical results also reveal that presidential comments are very powerful in shaping the amount of coverage given to these economic statistics.