Data reveals the topics reporters are asking the White House about the most


Nearly daily, White House press secretary Jen Psaki heads into the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, stands at the podium, and fields questions from the press. The questions requested of her are a superb reflection of the place the press’ priorities are. So it is price questioning: what topics are reporters most usually asking Psaki about?

Richard A. Lee, a professor at the St. Bonaventure University Jandoli School of Communication, thought the query would function a superb project for a media and democracy class he teaches every semester. He assigned his 22 college students to evaluate every briefing in March and kind the a whole bunch of questions into numerous subject buckets. Lee reviewed the work of his college students and supplied us the information.

“People either make assumptions or talk anecdotally and I think it is important to start with some data,” Lee defined to me on Tuesday. Lee conceded that the information his college students compiled “doesn’t tell the whole story.” But he identified that it’s a good “starting point” for conversations about the press.

So what have been the outcomes? According to the information, questions associated to well being have been the most prevalent in briefings, with 155 questions requested, which is smart given the pandemic. Number two was immigration with 131 questions, adopted by worldwide affairs with 129 questions.

The public’s priorities

Of course, the press represents the public in the briefing room. So how do the press’ priorities line up with the public’s priorities? A survey from the Pew Research Center, released in late-January, may supply some perception. While it’s not good, on condition that priorities of the public can change given what’s in the information at any given time, it is useful. The survey from Pew requested folks what they believed ought to be a high precedence for President Biden and Congress.

The high two solutions: Strengthening the economic system (80%) and coping with the coronavirus pandemic (78%). Other topics that have been on the public’s thoughts? Reducing well being prices (58%), bettering schooling (53%), and addressing points round race (49%). Notably, immigration was decrease on the checklist, with 39% of respondents choosing it as a precedence — though this survey was taken earlier than the surge of unaccompanied migrant youngsters at the US-Mexico border.

If you examine the outcomes of the Pew survey to the outcomes of the information Lee’s class compiled, it does present that reporters are asking about one in every of the public’s high priorities: the coronavirus pandemic. That mentioned, one might argue extra questions about the economic system and race are warranted.

The high two topics are intriguing

One facet of the information that’s attention-grabbing: The two topics reporters have been most enthusiastic about mirrored each the challenge that the White House is raring to speak about (the coronavirus pandemic and their fast rollout of vaccines), and one other challenge that the admin would fairly have prevented addressing (the scenario at the southern border).

Lee’s grade

Given that he’s a journalism professor who grades college students for a dwelling, I requested Lee what grade he may give the White House press corps. “I would give them a good grade,” he instructed me. “Maybe a B+ or A-.” Lee mentioned he would have “liked to see more questions on race as it is a big issue in the country right now.” Of the outcomes, he instructed me that was one factor that “surprised” him.

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