Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Journalism and Communication
Edward C. Pease
This study was conducted to identify the nature of the content devoted to the 2008 presidential election in the editorial pages of three newspapers. The research sought to discover what percentage of the content was specific to the election, whether this election-centered content focused on the campaign or on specific issues, what issues were covered, and the role in which the author was writing. This study used a comparative quantitative content analysis to examine this content appearing during the final three months of the 2008 campaign in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Dallas Morning News, and the San Francisco Chronicle, three major U.S. metropolitan newspapers with regional focus. The results provided insight into whether a marketplace of ideas exists in the editorial pages of the selected newspapers. Analysis of the election-related material revealed that each newspaper devoted a substantial portion of their editorial pages to the election. However, of that election-centered material, the majority was focused on the campaign, or "horse race," devoting much less to the discussion of substantive policy issues. The exception was the San Francisco Chronicle, which devoted almost 50% of its election-centered material to substantive issues. Only a handful of issues dominated the issue coverage in each newspaper: money, social issues, and defense/foreign policy. The general format for the editorial pages in each newspaper allowed for only a limited amount of diversity with the role in which an author is writing (i.e. the newspaper's own editorial writers vs. letters to the editor written by citizens). The majority of columns, the portion of the editorial pages where a diversity of authors has the potential to exist, were made up by authors identified by only a handful of roles.
Smith, Jacob, "Editorial Pages and the Marketplace of Ideas: A Quantitative Content Analysis of Three Metropolitan Newspapers" (2010). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 724.
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