Stations Ramp Up Political Coverage Ahead of Midterms

By Merrill Knox 

local newsroom_304x200TVNewsCheck has an in-depth look at how station groups are preparing for the midterm elections. “Debates, roundtables, aggressive campaign beat reporting and political fact-checking will be more prevalent on-air between Labor Day and Election Day than they have in the past,” Diana Marszalek writes:

It’s particularly notable that the activity is occurring in a mid-term election year, since local TV has traditionally paid little attention to non-presidential politics long considered “dull and boring to a lot of stations,” says RTDNA Executive Director Mike Cavender.

Cavender says he’s not surprised that local broadcasters are ramping things up considering they are serving a progressively more disgruntled electorate. “Stations read that as a heightened interest in how the November mid-term elections turn out,” he says. “So they are going to make them increasingly important.”

Local broadcasters say the nature of their political coverage this season will be markedly different, too, as they heighten their commitment to probing candidates’ claims versus being an outlet for press conferences and talking points — and hopefully hook viewers by doing so.

“The role of journalists in terms of sorting truth from half truth or lack of truth is becoming more critical,” says Hearst Television’s VP of News Candy Altman. “There is so much out there now, that trying to find trusted sources for reality is really important.”