April 30, 2001

The First 100 Days

Newspapers

The Topics in Newspapers

Both papers covered different topics about Bush than Clinton.

The New York Times stood out in that it a greater percentage of its coverage was about Bush's character than it about Clinton's (30% versus 22%). Also a greater percentage of its stories were about Bush's budget than Clinton's (27% versus 20%). In the meantime, it wrote less about his foreign and defense policies than Clinton's (20% versus 26%). The Washington Post on the other hand, wrote less about Bush's character (21% versus 28% Clinton), less about his budget (19% versus 27% Clinton) and more about foreign affairs and defense (22% versus 18%).

At the Post, a greater percent of Bush stories appeared on page one and fewer were on the editorial page than was the case for Clinton.

How They Wrote Them

Though the topics they wrote about differed, the two papers demonstrated similar changes in the way they framed their stories. In covering Bush, about half of the stories at both papers were explaining Bush's policies, up from just over a third for Clinton.

Both papers wrote less about the tactics of Bush than Clinton. The Times framed 13% of their Bush stories around tactics versus 23% for Clinton. The Post also framed 13% of their Bush stories around tactics, versus 19% for Clinton.

Both papers also slightly decreased the percent of stories written as conflict. At the Times, just 9% of Bush stories were built around conflict, down from 13% in 1993. At the Post, just 6% of stories were built around conflict, compared with 8% in 1993.

Despite the old adage that the press is fixated with conflict, that was not true at the Times and the Post, either this year or in 1993.