Study: did media shed light or heat on health care reform debate?

The Project for Excellence in Journalism has published an analysis of news covergae of the health care reform debate from June 2009 through March 2010. If you care about such stuff as much as we do, you should read the full report. But here’s a key excerpt from their conclusion:

“No one lavished more attention on the subject than the talk show hosts, who spend much of their time engaging in ideological warfare. And the terms that resonated in the media narrative, perhaps most notably “death panels,” were those that packed a polarizing punch.

All of which raises the question of the extent to which the media shed light versus heat when it came to health care reform. Certainly, many outlets did good work covering the numerous layers of the complex issue. But it’s also true that the public seemed consistently confused by the health care debate and had a difficult time sorting out fact from fiction.

That was by no means entirely attributable to the media. But to the extent that the health care experience may shape the rest of the Obama presidency, it may also offer lessons for the journalists who cover it as they navigate in a changing media world.”

Care to nominate your favorite (least fave?) polarizer on this topic? Do so in the comments area.

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