By Aleszu Bajak, Dan Kennedy and John Wihbey
It’s a paradox of examining political coverage. Are news media just reporting what the political candidates are talking about? Or does political journalism really set the agenda by selecting stories around specific news items, scandals and issues du jour?
Our topic analysis of ~10,000 news articles on the 2020 Democratic candidates, published between March and October in an ideological diverse range of 28 news outlets, reveals that political coverage, at least this cycle, tracks with the ebbs and flows of scandals, viral moments and news items, from accusations of Joe Biden’s inappropriate behavior towards women to President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine.