The following map and table show the number of articles in The New York Times mentioning each of the fifty states and Washington, D.C., per 10,000 people in population, over the last decade:
This approach is approximate. There are false positives (ie, an article mentioning the USS Arizona that has nothing to do with the southwestern state) and false negatives (ie, the paper misspelling a state). New York and Washington were particularly tricky. From “New York” I backed out all returns for “New York Times” and “New Yorker” strings. For Washington, I searched for “Washington” and “[City]”, where “[City]” consisted of the twenty most populous cities in the state. For the imperial capital, I used “Washington, D.C.” instead of “District of Columbia”, as the former returned more results. For “Virginia”, I backed out returns for “West Virginia”, an approach that removes articles mentioning both states from Virginia’s total count. Despite an unearned bonus from articles about the country bordering the Black Sea, the American southern state still comes in near the bottom of the list.
A couple of broad trends stand out. The first is an expected regional bias, with the northeast overrepresented. The other is that states with smaller populations loom relatively larger. The correlation between a state’s total population and its per capita mentions is an inverse .30. This appears to largely be on account of political articles, especially those discussing national results, mentioning several or even all fifty states in them. This ‘benefits’ sparsely populated states like Alaska and ‘harms’ populous states like California.
I plan on doing a global version of the same soon. It shouldn’t suffer from the same problem of electoral skew.