The University of Wisconsin's News Lab is issuing another study of Midwest TV station newscasts, this one covering the 30 days before the election, that will likely show that ads for politicians got more airtime in those newscasts than coverage of the races.
In a media advisory for the study's unveiling Tuesday, NewsLab did not give away the findings, but it did tip the conclusion with the following: ""So, what got more air time--substantive news coverage by reporters of political ads designed by campaign consultants?"
When asked whether the study would show a balance tipped toward ads, a spokesman conceded: "That's a good assumption."
What was omitted from the study was any morning or noon news or political free airtime in other dayparts--an omission which left broadcasters shaking their heads.
Using a grant from media/campaign reformer The Joyce Foundation of Chicago, NewsLab analyzed up to an hour per night of early evening and late-evening newscasts on 36 Big Four network affiliates in nine markets between Sept. 7 and Oct. 6. The markets were Chicago; Springfield, Ill.; Detroit; Lansing, Mich.; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Cleveland; Columbus; Madison, and Milwaukee.
For this latest iteration, NewsLab looked at the next 30 days, and compared the number of political ads in each newscast vs. coverage.