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Media Coverage of Drone Program

by on March 14, 2013

I was reading a Huffington Post article talking about the “scarce media coverage,” during Obama’s first term as president. According to the article Obama authorized his first drone strike just days after taking office.

Tara McKelvey is a correspondent for Newsweek and the Daily Beast, and she says that in 2009 and 2010 the media “fell short,” in its coverage of Obama’s drone program.She also said that news organizations did not increase their depth of coverage until the drone program expanded its geographic scope of countries and its range of potential targets to include American citizens.

She surveyed five different publications of drone coverage from: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and the Time. What she found was eye opening; from the first year of Obama’s presidency to his fourth year the amount of drone coverage doubled. There were 326 articles in 2009 and it grew to 625 articles in 2012.

She discovered that the New York Times was the news organization pursued the story more aggressively. She said that The New York Times was more aggressive due to the amount of article and the quality of the articles. The Times published 142 articles in 2009 and in 2012 they published 245 articles on drones, mainly focusing on the international angle of the story. The Washington Post published 72 articles in 2009 and 234 articles in 202 reflecting the business of Washington and Federal agencies.

In a three-year span both he Washington Post and The New York Times increased their coverage. Even with more coverage on the drone program this issue was almost irrelevant during the 2012 presidential campaign. Political reporters “thrive on political conflict,” and besides Ron Paul there was little disagreement between Mitt Romney and Obama on the use of drones.

Should main media outlets have made more of an effort to report on Obama’s drone program? Was it ethically right to overlook the drone issue during the recent presidential election because the two main candidates showed no disagreement?

Here is a Salon article on the conservative media coverage of Obama’s drone program I found interesting.



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