Paper examines news coverage of Trump

September 19, 2016 By Käri Knutson

With the presidential election less than two months away, it can be easy to forget that Donald Trump was once considered a long shot. Key to his nomination as the Republican presidential nominee has been a constant stream of media coverage. A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison have studied the factors that drove news attention to Trump during the pre-primary and primary period and have published their findings, “How Trump Drove Coverage to the Nomination: Hybrid Media Campaigning” in “Political Communication,”  a quarterly American scholarly journal covering political communication topics, published jointly by the American Political Science Association and the International Communication Association.

They write: “What we can say with some certainty, and without being overly dramatic, is that Trump’s use of conventional information subsidies in the form of press conferences and scheduled interviews and his triggering of social media activity in the form of retweets of his messages, were key factors in explaining his coverage in leading print news outlets and online blog posts at legacy media. His mastery of conventional and digital media — hybrid campaigning — helped drive his coverage to the nomination.”

The authors also write about Trump’s courting of controversy and strategy to cultivate the impression of bare-knuckle authenticity and being “a blue-collar billionaire.”

The paper was authored by Chris Wells, associate professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication; Dhavan V. Shah, Louis A. & Mary E. Maier-Bascom Professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication and the Departments of Industrial and Systems Engineering; Jon C. Pevehouse, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Political Science; JungHwan Yang, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication; Ayellet Pelled, a Ph.D. student in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication; Frederick Boehm, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistics; Josephine Lukito, a Ph.D. student in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication; Shreenita Ghosh, a Ph.D. student in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication; and Jessica L. Schmidt, a Masters student in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of WisconsinMadison.

To find out more about their research, contact Dhavan Shah, dshah@wisc.edu, 608-262-0388, or Chris Wells, cfwells@wisc.edu, 651-261-6206.