Scripps gives "free speech" new meaning in 2012 political season

Wed, November 07, 2012 by Valerie Miller

Through its innovative “Democracy 2012” program, The E.W. Scripps Company fulfilled its promise during this year’s election season to provide unparalleled engagement with its audiences as well as the politicians and policymakers whose decisions affect them. In all 13 markets, in which the company operates television stations, Scripps was the go-to source for voters to educate themselves on the political races and issues at the local, state and national levels.

Democracy 2012 was a commitment to shine light on the candidates and their stances on issues, but also to bring light to the issues that are important to voters. Scripps media markets coordinated comprehensive plans for industry-leading political coverage, including:

  • Since 2000, Scripps stations have provided a minimum of five minutes of free airtime within its daily newscasts to political candidates during the political windows. Through this initiative, Scripps stations in 2012 provided this free airtime to nearly 200 political races and issues.
  • As the first media group in the industry, with the technology to provide live streaming newscasts to mobile devices, Scripps stations delivered the arrivals, speeches and departures of presidential candidates live to mobile app subscribers.
  • As market leaders for quality broadcasts, Scripps stations produced and/or aired 15 debates for state or local political races. Many of the programs aired during primetime.
  • The Washington, D.C.-based Scripps Howard News Service sent teams of journalists to cover both the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention for the local markets. Experienced journalists captured both the flavor of the events from a national perspective as well as the voter interests at the local level for each Scripps market.
  • The importance of Florida as a battleground state in the presidential election warranted a team effort from Scripps stations in Tampa and West Palm Beach, Fla., to work together with Scripps newspapers in Naples, Fla. and the state’s Treasure Coast to provide an online portal for voters in the Sunshine State that is unmatched by any other media company. Voters found a wealth of information at to get everything they needed to connect to the political process, including information on candidates’ positions, voter registration information and maps of political jurisdictional boundaries.
  • Get out the vote" public service announcements received priority clearance in each station's public service inventory during the 30-day period prior to the primary and general elections. 
  • Scripps markets used social media to drive the message about the importance of voting on Election Day.
  • Scripps partnered with the Center for Responsive Politics to offer online, searchable databases that allowed voters to research campaign contributions and follow the money trail from the sources all the way to the beneficiaries.

“We serve our communities 24/7, but at no time is our story-telling and fact-finding more important than during an election cycle,” said Brian Lawlor, senior vice president of the Scripps television division. “At Scripps, we are firmly committed to providing the best possible coverage of the candidates and issues to equip voters with information that is so vital to their decision-making process. I am very proud of the work done in our local markets and the ongoing mission by this company to serve our communities with journalism that is fair, honest and relevant.”

Scripps ABC-affiliated stations participating in Democracy 2012 included WXYZ in Detroit; KMGH in Denver; KGTV in San Diego; KERO in Bakersfield, Calif.; WCPO in Cincinnati; WEWS in Cleveland; WRTV in Indianapolis; WFTS in Tampa, Fla.; WMAR in Baltimore; and KNXV in Phoenix. Three Scripps NBC-affiliated stations also participated: WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla.; KSHB in Kansas City, Mo.; and KJRH in Tulsa, Okla. 

About Scripps

Scripps (
delivers quality journalism and creates valuable marketing environments through television stations, newspapers and a growing menu of digital products and services that now includes social games. Creative and mission-driven employees "give light so the people can find their own way" at 19 television stations in major U.S. markets and at newspapers in 13 markets.

  Download PDF Version