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Term coined during the Reagan presidency.

The Reagan administration was keen to trivialise news broadcasts, focusing still on the president, but on his personal side more than his professional actions and suitability. The strategy was quickly coined ‘jelly bean journalism’, derived from news stories about the presidents fondness of jelly beans.

Producers could not resist showing the lighter side of Reagan. Every time there was footage of the president kissing the first lady, it was almost guaranteed to be on nightly news broadcasts. As the term progressed, personal interest stories became more and more common, with news casters overlooking the negative aspects of the administration. Richard Cohen, former associate producer at CBS described the major network’s attitude to the strategy.

We were slow to realize we were being suckered, and when we did we didn’t care that much about it. It may just be too much to ask an executive producer to pass up a great picture.

This is from a research project I did a while ago. Node your homework.
Sourced from: Hertsgaard, Mark On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency. Rarrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1989

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