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News Coverage of New Presidents in The New York Times, 1981-2009


  • Acknowledgements: The authors thank Dan Amundson of the Center for Media and Public Affairs for his research assistance, the reviewers and editors of Politics & Policy for their helpful suggestions, and the Council for Excellence in Government and George Mason University for financial support. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2011 meeting of the Eastern Communication Association. All errors and interpretations remain the authors’ responsibility.


Content analysis of front-page The New York Times stories during the first year of the Barack Obama presidency revealed news coverage that was far more positive in tone than that received during the first year of the Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush presidencies. Overall, the Obama findings reveal a media honeymoon in that influential newspaper, a sharp contrast from first-year coverage of other presidents during the modern era of a more combative press. The positive policy coverage Obama received in the Times was also significantly more positive than on evening newscasts of network television and on Fox News’ Special Report.

Un análisis de los reportajes en primera plana del New York Times durante el primer año de presidencia de Barack Obama reveló reportajes con un tono mucho más positivo que aquel recibido durante el primer año de las presidencias de Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton y George W. Bush. En conjunto, estos hallazgos muestran una luna de miel del influyente periódico con Barack Obama, un marcado contraste con la cobertura que recibieron otros presidentes durante la era moderna de una prensa más competitiva. La positiva cobertura que Obama recibió del Times también fue significativamente más positiva que la recibida por noticieros vespertinos en cadenas televisivas y en el programa Fox News’ Special Report.

Related Articles:“Media Use in the Contemporary Presidency,” (1996):“Selective Media Exposure and Partisan Differences,” (2011):“The Influence of Media Policy Narratives on Public Opinion,” (2011):