Hearst Boosts Group-Wide Election Coverage

The group’s stations will air a minimum of 12 minutes of political news daily for 150 hours total in the month prior to the primary and general elections. It also launches an election app, a new Commitment 2012 Investigates series and is partnering with PolitiFact.

Hearst Television Inc. today released details of Commitment 2012, the latest iteration of the company’s biannual election-coverage efforts, which began with Commitment 2000 and which have earned a Peabody Award and multiple USC Annenberg Walter Cronkite Awards, including six group-wide honors.

Hearst owns stations in Des Moines, Iowa (KCCI), and Manchester, N.H. (WMUR), the two markets where the 2012 presidential campaign begins with the Iowa caucuses today, and the New Hampshire primary, on Jan. 10.

Commitment 2012, the company said, will involve “an intensified effort at the company’s 25 news-producing TV stations, and on their respective local websites and mobile sites, to provide comprehensive local TV news coverage of national, state and local election campaigns on-air, online and via mobile devices.”

A cornerstone feature of Commitment 2012 will be “12 in 12” — a pledge of a minimum 12 minutes’ airtime for daily political news and candidate-discourse coverage per weekday and, where possible, on weekends, in the 30 days leading up to the primary and general elections at each of its news-producing stations.

Hearst says this represents a 20% increase — or some 25 additional hours for a total of 150 hours group-wide over the 30-day period — from the 10 minutes daily that Hearst first pledged in 2006. In addition, each station will produce a “Virtual Town Hall” or discussion in the 30 days leading up to the election.

Hearst Television’s prior biennial Commitment projects have featured “Town Hall Meetings,” debates, and “AdWatch,” “Issue Check” and “Truth Check” segments. For Commitment 2012, the group will introduce features including:


  • “Commitment 2012 Investigates,” a content initiative bringing together award-winning reporters from the Hearst station group, producing a series of reports throughout the year examining the campaign money trail and other issues important to viewers.
  • An election app, due for launch in spring 2012, with information and content customizable by market to help voters make informed decisions on-the-go — all part of an effort to deliver a comprehensive “three-screen experience” for audiences.
  • An exclusive partnership with PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times. Hearst Television’s Washington, D.C., bureau will produce segments on PolitiFact’s fact-checking about the presidential campaign using the website’s Truth-O-Meter.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Hearst as it expands political coverage in such a bold way,” said Bill Adair, editor of PolitiFact. “It will be great to see our Truth-O-Meter in Hearst’s newscasts.”

“We will continue to urge major political candidates to appear on our television stations,” said David Barrett, president-CEO of Hearst Television.  “In return, we pledge to provide the most thoughtful, in-depth and responsible electronic news coverage of the political process in our markets.  And we promise to do so in a way that effectively reaches voters of all demographics — on-air, online and on-the-go.”

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