The Clinton/Lewinsky Story
This study attempted to discern the nature of the press coverage of the story by examining several major threads of the story and comparing them to the Starr Report and its supporting evidentiary material. Contrary to White House accusations, those doing the bulk of the original reporting did not ferry false leaks and fabrications into coverage. But in some important cases, the press leaned on the suspicions of investigators that did not hold up and downplayed the denials of the accused, according to a new study. The findings raise questions about whether the press always maintained adequate skepticism about its sources.
Framing the News
The narrative techniques and underlying messages in newspaper coverage.
The Clinton Crisis and the Press – A Second Look
From the PEJ study "The Clinton Crisis and the Press: A Second Look." This chart shows how anonymous sources were described or characterized in news stories about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal that appeared over three days in 1998: January 23, March 5, and March 6.
Sources and Attribution in Mainstream News
Story sourcing got slightly better as the Clinton-Lewinsky saga wore on as evidenced by the small rise in pieces with “2 or more named sources.”
Sources and Attribution by News Genre, March 5 and March 6
Interestingly, tabloid media outlets did a better job of using named sources than mainstream outlets did in a March 1998 sample of coverage of the Clinton-Lewinsky saga.
Level of Sourcing in Associated Press Reporting
The Associated Press relied less on named sources in its coverage of the Clinton sex scandal six weeks after it began the news agency did in the first controversial days.
The Clinton Crisis and the Press
The study, a follow up to an earlier one in February, raises basic questions about whether the press has become too lax about offering readers as much information as possible, and whether journalists have allowed sources to dictate terms too easily.
Changing Definitions of News
Between 1977 and 1997, the percentage of "straight news" stories that simply described events dropped, and the percentage of stories that emphasized a distinct narrative theme from the journalist framing the event increased.
Subjects of Front Page Newspaper Stories, by Year
Newspaper front pages grew less focused on Government and Foreign Affairs between 1977 and 1997, while they devoted more space to Domestic Affairs and Crime.
Emphasis of Front Page Newspaper Stories, by Year
Straight news declined sharply as the emphasis of newspaper front page stories between 1977 and 1997.