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Behind the Headlines: As Trump visits St. Louis, a look at how and why media cover him

Michael Vadon | Wikimedia Commons
Republican presidential nominee hopeful Donald Trump will be in St. Louis on Friday.

Matt Carlson, a communications professor at Saint Louis University has noticed something in recent months that many may not find quite so curious:

“When I’ve been around more than two adults in any setting, when they talk, it usually turns to Donald  Trump and how his success has manifested itself,” he told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on this week’s “Behind the Headlines.”

That was certainly the case today as Trump visited the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis for a rally. Newcast producer Stephanie Lecci said that the line to hear him speak wound itself around the block next to the building and protesters lined the sidewalks.

“It has been a tense but a highly patriotic scene today,” Lecci said. Some of the attendees had been out since the wee hours of the morning. The crowd was “overwhelmingly white,” she said, but spanned across all ages.

St. Louis Public Radio had two reporters at the rally. Executive Editor Shula Neuman explained the decision:

“One [reporter] inside, one outside because we felt we had to because so much of the action is what happens outside with the protestors,” she said. “That hasn’t happened with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, that hasn’t happened with Ted Cruz’ campaign, so we’re not going to be sending two reporters.”

Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Matt Carlson

Carlson said that because Trump’s antics are so out-of-the-box, that in and of itself calls media to pay attention to him.

“One, he’s very good at talking to the media, being provocative, getting coverage,” said Carlson. “Two, he’s unusual. … He does the opposite of what you think he’ll say or what a candidate would say. That’s attractive. If you cover campaigns and do the same thing every four years, this is so unusual that it begs the coverage.”

He said that Trump has received 65 times the amount of media coverage than his opponents. That doesn’t necessarily mean that media sources support Trump, but that his antics are what people are talking about.

“It is not that St. Louis Public Radio is out shilling for Donald Trump, it is just that this is what the story is right now,” Carlson said.  "This is what people are talking about right now. That doesn’t equate support.”

Listen to the rest of “Behind the Headlines,” where Carlson and Neuman discuss more of how and why media cover Trump and we hear from St. Louis Public Radio reporter Marshall Griffin on the Missouri Senate’s “religious shield” resolution and the Missouri’s budget:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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