This study evaluated how 21 major U.S. media — all accessed via their online news platforms — visually depicted the 2012 presidential campaign over two periods in time. This study traces the coverage of the four major Republican candidates for president in February and March 2012 and the coverage of the two major party candidates for president in September and October 2012. Researchers identified, “pinned” to Pinterest, and evaluated over 8,700 photographs* of Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. See the “About” page for more details on the methodology of this study.
The 21 news outlet pages nested under this heading (and listed in the right-hand column) give further specific findings about each outlet’s photographic coverage. Those individual pages detail the choices the outlets made about which photographs to publish. In their evaluation of the thousands of images of the candidates, researchers coded each photograph for such questions as whether the candidate was pictured alone or with others (and which others, if so), what was the candidate doing (speaking, shaking hands, etc.), what was the expression on the candidate’s face (smiling, scowling, etc.), where was the candidate looking (downwards, straight ahead, upwards, etc.), and, taking that all into consideration, what was the overall tone of the photograph (positive, negative or neutral). Trends from that coding are noted on the pages for the individual outlets.