What's Local about Local Television News?

An Analysis of 2004 Election Coverage by Philadelphia's Local Television Stations


  • Matthew Hale




Because capturing and analyzing local television news broadcasts is difficult, most research on campaign ocverage by local television stations centers on a single candidate race and a limited number of news broadcasts. This article expands existing research by examining all prime time election coverage by Philadelphia's four network affiliates in the final 30 days of the 2004 campagin. These stations virtually abandoned coverage of local and statewied races in favor of the presidential contest. Most coverage focused on campaign stategy rather than issues, but there is little evidence of direct bias favoring either Democrats or Republicans. Although stations generally ignored nonpresidential elections, they gave a fair amount of coverage to the mechanics of voting, which may provide voters with valuable locally based election information.