Research aims to understand the media’s political coverage

In the heart of Uptown Mount Vernon, you’ll find the town’s newspaper office.

Professor Hans Hassell and Zach Stoll '18 meet with Jake Krob
Professor Hans Hassell and Zach Stoll ’18 meet with Jake Krob

That’s where you’ll also find Cornell College Professor of Politics Hans Hassell and Zach Stoll ’18.

They’re working on their Cornell Summer Research Institute project, which brought them to the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun office to meet with Publisher Jake Krob about political news coverage.

“The way campaigns send their messages out to media and the way media report them are not always the same,” Stoll said. “We are trying to figure out why some of those differences might be the case.”

The two are interviewing journalists from big and small newspapers.

“Then, we are going to go take and do an experiment with journalists,” Hassell said. “Part of the process here is collecting emails of every political journalist that is writing for newspapers in the U.S. Then, we’ll send out a survey to them. So, we’ll have 2,000 to 3,000 responses from journalists who are actually covering the news.”

The team plans on publishing their research on whether there’s bias behind reporters’ stories and how reporters determine what the story is.

“Potentially, it could be used by campaigns to help them get a clearer message across to the media, which is beneficial to them in the long run because it lets the voters better understand who they are,” Stoll said.

“This has huge implications for democracy,” Hassell said. “Part of democracy is making sure voters are informed and that the message candidates want to communicate to voters is the message voters are able to receive. You need to be able to have that free flow of information.”

For more about this CSRI research, watch their video.