The blogs are abuzz over this depressing new Shorenstein study of media campaign coverage:

In all, 63% of the campaign stories focused on political and tactical aspects of the campaign. That is nearly four times the number of stories about the personal backgrounds of the candidates (17%) or the candidates’ ideas and policy proposals (15%). And just 1% of stories examined the candidates’ records or past public performance, the study found.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

The press’ focus on fundraising, tactics and polling is even more evident if one looks at how stories were framed rather than the topic of the story. Just 12% of stories examined were presented in a way that explained how citizens might be affected by the election, while nearly nine-out-of-ten stories (86%) focused on matters that largely impacted only the parties and the candidates. Those numbers, incidentally, match almost exactly the campaign-centric orientation of coverage found on the eve of the primaries eight years ago.

Grist is consciously built around coverage of certain subject matters, so the incentives point away from personal trivia and horserace stories. Our political coverage is fiber-rich relative to mainstream coverage — albeit, like Frosted Mini-Wheats, sugary on one side — and as such is a bit of a test case for the popularity of substance over style. If you enjoy coverage written as if details matter, people care, and puns rule … why don’t you show your support with a donation? Our gratitude knows no bounds.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.