Media Trends: Increased Congressional Coverage, Sharp Rise In Digital Correspondents

The way most Americans understand what happens in Washington, D.C., is correlated with the media sources they utilize. 

A major trend now is an increased focus on Congressional politics, as well as the advent of online-first news outlets, per the Pew Research Center. A recent report details the makeup of the Washington press corps and the content it produces.

According to Pew, based on a study of eight newspapers around the country between Feb. and May of this year, 52% of the stories written by DC-based correspondents focused on the legislative branch. Some 71% of their stories contained a quote from a senator or representative.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic drop in public-opinion polls regarding the ability of Congress to do its job. Since 2009, over 100 new Congressional press gallery accreditations have been issued, leading to additional scrutiny over legislative activity that may ultimately influence members’ votes.

With an increasingly national spotlight on Congress, there is mounting evidence of members casting votes not based on policy, but on opposition to compromise or based on an attempt to seem closer to their core voter demographic. Some have started to call this group the Vote No, Hope Yes Caucus, which consisting of a small but important section of Republicans.

Separately, a stark variation between a 2009 Pew Research study on the same topic and this most recent study is the sharp increase of Washington correspondents that publish in the digital-native space. As of 2014, the most recent year with available data, there are 130 journalists working for digital news outlets, compared to around 35 in 2009.

There has been a similar shift in the White House press corps. BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, among others, now have dedicated seats in the White House press briefing room, a recent development underscoring the important position digital media holds in the political landscape.

As the primary race reaches its climax, expect online sources to regularly post relevant content and report the breaking news, scandals and developments that may sway votes.
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