Coverage of the 1996 Australian federal election campaign by newspapers, news magazines and television

Maguire, Daniel (2000). Coverage of the 1996 Australian federal election campaign by newspapers, news magazines and television PhD Thesis, School of Journalism and Communication, The University of Queensland.

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Author Maguire, Daniel
Thesis Title Coverage of the 1996 Australian federal election campaign by newspapers, news magazines and television
School, Centre or Institute School of Journalism and Communication
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2000-06-13
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor -
Total pages 344
Language eng
Subjects 1903 Journalism and Professional Writing
890405 Radio and Television Broadcasting
Formatted abstract Australian voters' use of the media as their main source of information during political election campaigns suggests coverage needs to be continually assessed in light of the potential it has to influence voters. This study sought to assess the way newspapers, nightly television news programmes and news magazines covered both the candidates and the issues during the federal election campaign that preceded the demise at the ballot box of the second-longest serving government in Australia's history.

The data suggests that, like the once highly partisan American press, the press in Australia has moved away from earlier traditions of party-aligned reporting of elections. The Australian press is now more likely to adopt a "referee role" for the duration of the election.

Another significant development has been for Australian media to focus on the leaders' campaign activities throughout the election. Somewhat similar to US presidential races, the campaign itself has become the main issue with the Australian media.

Testing the continuation of these developments (neither of which appears to have taken hold among the British press, for example) involved borrowing a number of ideas from similar cross-media research undertaken in the United States. For this study a sentence by sentence analysis of newspaper, television and news magazine stories that were primarily about the 1996 Australian federal election campaign classified the following: (1) the major issue in the story; (2) the candidate the story was mainly about and (3) the attitudinal direction of the story.

The results show Australian media do extremely well at including both sides in the campaign stories but less well at treating the sides equally relative to one another. There is also some indication less emphasis is placed on leaders during highly controlled campaigns than those campaigns where the leaders have made themselves more available to both the press and the public. However, the campaign itself still receives far more attention from most media than do many of the substantive issues. The candidates' strengths and weaknesses are also more important to most media than issues of great concern to the public.
Keyword Press and politics -- Australia.
Television in politics -- Australia.
Australia. Parliament -- Elections, 1996.
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

 
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