Atlanta Journal Constitution

HIGHLIGHTS of COVERAGE of the GOP PRIMARIES 

This page provides a summary of research results for the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s photographic coverage of the 2012 GOP primaries.

This pie chart shows AJC.com‘s relative photographic attention to each of the four GOP candidates.

Throughout February and March 2012, AJC.com, the website for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, photographically covered the Republican primary candidates remarkably evenly.  Researchers who daily checked the AJC.com site pinned a total of 120 photos, well divided among the three top candidates:  40 photos of Mitt Romney, 38 photographs of Rick Santorum, 33 of Newt Gingrich.   By contrast, researchers pinned only nine photographs of Ron Paul.

Photographs published of Romney in AJC.com portrayed him positively, as confident and approachable, engaged with many supporters.  On balance, researchers also coded photographs of Santorum  as positive, although neither his facial expressions nor his engagement with supporters were portrayed as positively as Romney’s.  Gingrich, too, who won the Georgia primary, elicited favorable coverage, while coders evaluated the very few images of Paul as more neutral in tone.

Clicking on the number of pins in the subheads below links to the Pinterest board of photos of the candidate.

ROMNEY / 40 pins *

Atlanta Journal Constitution — Mitt Romney, AP. 3/5/12

POSITIVE:  Throughout the month-long period, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published positive photos of Mitt Romney, typically in images where he was animatedly speaking to or mingling with an audience.  Researchers noted that Romney frequently appeared happy and confident in the photos; as a result they most often coded pictures as being very or slightly positive in tone.

  • The published photos of Romney often showed him smiling or laughing, in close-up or from middle range (hips/waist up) whether in the midst of a speech or in encounters with supporters.  Those images depicted him looking level into the crowd, helping him appear friendly, approachable and confident.
  • About half of the photos pictured Romney addressing an audience — in almost equal measure cropped so he appeared alone in the image or taken so an audience appeared in the background.  Both angles of framing helped to give the impression that Romney was a serious contender for the GOP nomination.

SANTORUM / 38 pins*

Atlanta Journal Constitution — Rick Santorum, AP.  3/6/12

POSITIVE:  The Atlanta Journal Constitution published generally positive photos of Rick Santorum, depicting him as a confident and serious contender — although researchers coded photographs of him as cocky and arrogant more than twice as often as they coded photos of Romney.

  • The vast majority of pinned images showed Santorum alone, at a podium, from medium distance or in close-upOf the photos on the Atlanta Journal Constitution‘s website available to be pinned, only a single photo showed Santorum directly engaging with his supporters.  As a consequence, coders noted that while he appeared confident in a majority of the images — he also appeared isolated.
  • Overall, researchers evaluated the images of Santorum roughly equally between slightly positive in tone and neutral in tone — but the images had rather high negatives too.  Researchers coded about half as many photos as slightly negative in tone as they had noted as slightly positive.

GINGRICH / 33 pins *

Atlanta Journal Constitution — Newt Gingrich. 3/12/12

POSITIVE:  The Atlanta Journal Constitution published a significant number of photographs of Newt Gingrich, especially in comparison to the number of images other news outlets gave the third-place candidate compared to the two leaders, Romney and Santorum.  It is no coincidence, of course, that Gingrich’s greatest primary success was in Georgia, where he took 52 delegates.

  • As was true for the photographs of Rick Santorum, the vast majority of images of Gingrich published in AJC.com showed him alone, at a podium — in effect advancing the case that Gingrich would be a confident and serious contender for the GOP nomination.   In many of those images he is shown in an avuncular professorial mode:  smiling and gesturing to the crowd, as if to bring them into the conversation.
  •  Just as was the case with Santorum, however, coders evaluated a number of images of Gingrich as negative.  It should be noted, however, that researchers coded more photographs showing Gingrich as either confident or friendly than they had of Santorum — a consequence perhaps of AJC.com publishing more photographs of Gingrich where he is seen mingling with a crowd of supporters.

PAUL / 9 pins *

Atlanta Journal Constitution — Ron Paul,   AP.  3/6/12

NEGATIVE:  With only nine photos of Paul published by AJC.com and able to be pinned, it was difficult to assign a “tone” to AJC.com‘s photographic portrayal of him.  With that caveat, however, AJC appears to have selected photographs of Paul that portrayed him as appearing tired and frustrated. Only one picture of him of the nine showed him smiling.  Coders observed that the candidate would be unlikely to be happy with any of the published images.

  • Three of the nine photos found of Paul appeared in the same days’ news and were taken at the same media appearance — in other words, one-third of the photos of Paul able to be pinned from the month-long period of coverage of 35 primaries are from a limited period of time and from a single event.  The lack of photographs of Paul, by itself, suggests an assessment of the candidate’s viability that would likely reinforce an impression that he was not a serious contender.
  • As had been the case with the photographs of Paul published on ABC News‘ website, the photos of Paul published by AJC.com also showed him under what appeared to be strain — making him appear vulnerable, if honest and genuine in his appeals to his supporters.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution
2012 Primary Election Coverage

During the 2012 presidential primaries, the Atlanta Journal Constitution had a separate page on its website titled “Election 2012: Across the Nation” which had daily stories about the Republican candidates. However, not all of these stories were accompanied by photos — in fact when there were pictures, they tended to be posted on the side of the story and were small.

PINTEREST:  The Atlanta Journal Constitution worked well with Pinterest in most aspects. The “Pin It” button was able to pick up photos easily and show them correctly in Pinterest. The only problem that arose was the fact that AJC deletes (or makes unavailable to the public) its news stories after a certain number of days. The thumbnails of pictures from those deleted stories still show up in Pinterest but when clicked on, they do not open to their previous full size; they remain as thumbnails.

CONTEXT:  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) is the only major daily newspaper in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia. The Atlanta JournalConstitution is the result of the merger between the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution in 1982. It is co-owned with television flagship WSB-TV and six radio stations.  


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.
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