Newspaper Coverage of the 1992 Presidential Campaign
Journal of Communication Studies
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The purpose of this study was to assess the amount of front page newspaper coverage allotted to "character/competence/image" issues versus "platform/political" issues in the 1992 presidential campaign. Using textual analysis methodology and the approach of content analysis, researchers coded the front page of the following five newspapers between August 1 and November 3, 1992: The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Milwaukee Journal, and Minneapolis Star Tribune. Researchers coded coverage of President George Bush, Vice-President Dan Quayle, Governor Bill Clinton, and Senator Al Gore. A content analysis of the articles was conducted using headline word cues to determine article eligibility; standardized coding sheets were designed and used for category classification. Descriptive statistics were performed to analyze the data. Results indicated that of the 555 articles coded, "character/competence/image" issues accounted for either a majority or a plurality of front page coverage for four of the five newspapers during the coding period. Analysis of the summarized data also revealed that all five newspapers featured more coverage of “character/competence/image" issues than "platform/political" issues during the final month and days before the election. By providing insight into the types of issues that compromised the agenda set by the media, and by presenting evidence suggesting a strong historical trend of such issue coverage, the links between issue coverage, the process of opinion formation, and democratic decision-making in society can be better understood. (Contains 47 references, 3 tables of data, and 5 notes.)
Mass media--Political aspects--United States
Presidents--United States--Election--History--20th century
Photocopied by permission of the Arkansas State Communication Association.
Sims, J. R. & Giordano, J. (1994, Spring). Newspaper coverage of the 1992 presidential campaign. Journal of Communication Studies, 12 (2), 77-94.