University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Coming to Public Judgment: An Analysis of Young Voters in Election 2010 in Kentucky

Institution

University of Kentucky

Abstract

A content analysis of front-page newspaper headlines in the landmark 2010 election campaign for U.S. Senate in Kentucky showed student journalists “bowling alone” (Putnam, 2000), publishing only one front-page election headline for every six published by a professional newspaper in the same city. Meanwhile, the professional journalists continued a “horse race” approach to coverage focusing on conflict, polls, and fund-raising totals, an approach long-criticized by public journalism reformers (Rosen, 1999). A related case study revealed that front-page newspaper headlines, framed either in traditionalelite or public journalism ways, were not key determinants in young voters “coming to public judgment” on which candidates to support (Yankelovich, 1991). For this study, headlines were analyzed in The New York Times; Wall Street Journal; USA Today; Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky.; Lexington HeraldLeader of Lexington, Ky.; and the Kentucky Kernel student newspaper at the University of Kentucky. In the two weeks leading up to the November 2 election, the professional seven-day-a-week newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, published seven front-page election headlines in fourteen issues for a frequency rate of 50%. The student five-day-a-week newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel, published zero front-page headlines out of ten. All the newspapers mentioned above used traditional-elite “horse race” journalism for campaign coverage over public journalism coverage focusing on solutions, issues, and public forums. In a compilation of front-page headlines related to the 2010 midterm election from October to November, 92% of the headlines were framed in a traditional-elite “horse race” style and only 8% were framed in a public journalism style.

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Coming to Public Judgment: An Analysis of Young Voters in Election 2010 in Kentucky

A content analysis of front-page newspaper headlines in the landmark 2010 election campaign for U.S. Senate in Kentucky showed student journalists “bowling alone” (Putnam, 2000), publishing only one front-page election headline for every six published by a professional newspaper in the same city. Meanwhile, the professional journalists continued a “horse race” approach to coverage focusing on conflict, polls, and fund-raising totals, an approach long-criticized by public journalism reformers (Rosen, 1999). A related case study revealed that front-page newspaper headlines, framed either in traditionalelite or public journalism ways, were not key determinants in young voters “coming to public judgment” on which candidates to support (Yankelovich, 1991). For this study, headlines were analyzed in The New York Times; Wall Street Journal; USA Today; Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky.; Lexington HeraldLeader of Lexington, Ky.; and the Kentucky Kernel student newspaper at the University of Kentucky. In the two weeks leading up to the November 2 election, the professional seven-day-a-week newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, published seven front-page election headlines in fourteen issues for a frequency rate of 50%. The student five-day-a-week newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel, published zero front-page headlines out of ten. All the newspapers mentioned above used traditional-elite “horse race” journalism for campaign coverage over public journalism coverage focusing on solutions, issues, and public forums. In a compilation of front-page headlines related to the 2010 midterm election from October to November, 92% of the headlines were framed in a traditional-elite “horse race” style and only 8% were framed in a public journalism style.