Key Findings •

The 2012 General Election

(Note that findings for the GOP primaries in February and March are on this page.)

Widely published AP photo from second presidential debate, Oct. 16, 2012

Researchers noted two key findings after evaluating the thousands of photographs of the 2012 general presidential campaign during the fall PrezPix study:

  1. The 18 news outlets in the general election phase of the PrezPix study published* more photos of Romney throughout the fall presidential campaign.  In September and October 2012, researchers evaluated a total of 5,546 photographs from 18 online news sites of Pres. Obama and Gov. Romney during the presidential campaign: 2,933 photographs of Romney and 2613 photographs of Obama.
  1. The tone of coverage changed dramatically over the three weeks of this study:  The 18 news outlets, taken as a whole, published proportionately more “positive” photos of Obama in September, two weeks before the first debate.  By October and the weeks of the first two presidential debates, the coverage no longer so dramatically favored Obama — and in most cases the tone of the coverage of the two men was roughly on par.

Why the shift?

The presidential debates — and the reactions and spin that followed each one — dominated the visual coverage of the October campaign.  Literally.  News outlets used split-screen photos or pictures of the two men on the debate stage together for more than half the photographic coverage of the debate weeks — and they often appeared to select those photos precisely to give “mirror” (or more equal) portraits of the two men.


Track the trends of the coverage in the charts below which visualize the positive – neutral – negative tone of coverage of each news outlet.


There are three charts for each of the 18 news outlets investigated during September and October 2012. The left-hand chart documents the finding from the first week studied: September 17 – 23, the middle chart documents the second week: October 1 – 7, and the right-hand chart documents the third: October 15 – 21.
Note that the first presidential debate in Colorado was held on October 3, and the second presidential debate in New York was held on October 16.
Note, too, that the number of images for each news outlet is recorded in the caption to each chart.  It is to be expected that the evaluation of the tone of the coverage will be less robust for news outlets that posted relatively few photos in any given week.  For that reason, comparing positive-negative evaluations across news outlets should be done circumspectly.

Click on the name of the news site to open up a dedicated page of analysis for that specific news outlet.
Note that evaluation of the GOP primary coverage is below the analysis of the photographic coverage of the general election on those pages.

ABC News

Week 1 — ABC/Obama (50 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — ABC/Obama (66 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — ABC/Obama (111 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — ABC/Romney (73 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — ABC/Romney (69 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — ABC/Romney (111 photos pinned for the week)



Bloomberg

Week 1 — Bloomberg/Obama (15 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Bloomberg/Obama (51 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Bloomberg/Obama (27 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Bloomberg/Romney (36 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Bloomberg/Romney (57 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Bloomberg/Romney (35 photos pinned for the week)



CBS News

Week 1 — CBS/Obama (20 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — CBS/Obama (27 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — CBS/Obama (35 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — CBS/Romney (30 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — CBS/Romney (23 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — CBS/Romney (37 photos pinned for the week)



Christian Science Monitor

Week 1 — Christian Science Monitor/Obama (11 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Christian Science Monitor/Obama (33 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Christian Science Monitor/Obama (17 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Christian Science Monitor/Romney (26 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Christian Science Monitor/Romney (39 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Christian Science Monitor/Romney (15 photos pinned for the week)



Cleveland Plain Dealer

Week 1 — Cleveland Plain Dealer/Obama (7 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Cleveland Plain Dealer/Obama (57 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Cleveland Plain Dealer/Obama (78 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Cleveland Plain Dealer/Romney (11 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Cleveland Plain Dealer/Romney (36 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Cleveland Plain Dealer/Romney (68 photos pinned for the week)



CNN

Week 1 — CNN/Obama (39 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — CNN/Obama (54 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — CNN/Obama (75 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — CNN/Romney (65 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — CNN/Romney (63 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — CNN/Romney (79 photos pinned for the week)



Daily Beast

Week 1 — Daily Beast/Obama (15 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Daily Beast/Obama (29 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Daily Beast/Obama (43 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Daily Beast/Romney (26 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Daily Beast/Romney (39 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Daily Beast/Romney (36 photos pinned for the week)



Denver Post

Week 1 — Denver Post/Obama (23 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Denver Post/Obama (61 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Denver Post/Obama (38 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Denver Post/Romney (32 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Denver Post/Romney (101 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Denver Post/Romney (36 photos pinned for the week)



Fox News

Week 1 — Fox/Obama (14 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Fox/Obama (89 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Fox/Obama (38 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Fox/Romney (15 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Fox/Romney (91 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Fox/Romney (37 photos pinned for the week)



Huffington Post

Week 1 — Huffington Post/Obama (27 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Huffington Post/Obama (105 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Huffington Post/Obama (92 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Huffington Post/Romney (59 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Huffington Post/Romney (135 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Huffington Post/Romney (117 photos pinned for the week)



Los Angeles Times

Week 1 — LA Times/Obama (15 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — LA Times/Obama (34 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — LA Times/Obama (37 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — LA Times/Romney (23 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — LA Times/Romney (42 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — LA Times/Romney (28 photos pinned for the week)



Miami Herald

Week 1 — Miami Herald/Obama (51 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Miami Herald/Obama (30 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Miami Herald/Obama (6 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Miami Herald/Romney (83 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Miami Herald/Romney (32 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Miami Herald/Romney (8 photos pinned for the week)



NBC News

Week 1 — NBC/Obama (47 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — NBC/Obama (31 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — NBC/Obama (26 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — NBC/Obama (46 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — NBC/Obama (30 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — NBC/Obama (19 photos pinned for the week)



New York Times

Week 1 — New York Times/Obama (21 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 —  New York Times/Obama  (23 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 —  New York Times/Obama  (38 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 —  New York Times/Romney  (30 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 —  New York Times/Romney  (38 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 —  New York Times/Romney  (33 photos pinned for the week)



NPR

Week 1 — NPR/Obama (9 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — NPR/Obama (21 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — NPR/Obama (11 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — NPR/Romney (24 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — NPR/Romney (19 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — NPR/Romney (10 photos pinned for the week)



Politico

Week 1 — Politico/Obama (55 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Politico/Obama (107 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Politico/Obama (82 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Politico/Romney (65 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Politico/Romney (67 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Politico/Romney (85 photos pinned for the week)



USA Today

Week 1 — USA Today/Obama (47 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — USA Today/Obama (62 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — USA Today/Obama (16 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — USA Today/Romney (25 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — USA Today/Romney (54 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — USA Today/Romney (19 photos pinned for the week)



Washington Post

Week 1 — Washington Post/Obama (103 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Washington Post/Obama (51 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Washington Post/Obama (309 photos pinned for the week)


Week 1 — Washington Post/Romney (140 photos pinned for the week)

Week 2 — Washington Post/Romney (94 photos pinned for the week)

Week 3 — Washington Post/Romney (313 photos pinned for the week)



NB:  Researchers applied the same collection methodology for all the news outlets studied.  It is likely that the researchers on this survey did not collect every photograph published, and, on occasion, certain photographs that could be viewed were not collectible by Pinterest.  The total number of photographs studied, therefore, should be understood to be representative of those published on the news outlets, not an absolute set of all photographs published on all sites.  
It is fair to note, however, that the number of photographs of any individual candidate collected for any given site is a rough indication of the commitment of that site to photographically covering that specific candidate.