Women municipal politicians in election news
The news media’s fascination with which party is ahead in the polls — otherwise known as the horse race — has raised questions about how well informed voters are about their choices on the ballot box. A preoccupation with campaign strategies, gaffes, and photo-ops leaves journalists with less time to report on issues and platforms. Some scholars argue women are particularly handicapped by horse-race coverage because it can lead to negative evaluations of their electoral viability and because the masculine language used in this type of coverage could depict them as inappropriately aggressive and therefore transgressing traditional gender norms. But this study on newspaper coverage of municipal elections in one Canadian province reveals that journalists treat regular council contests more as a marathon than a horse race. The nature of municipal election coverage suggests journalists treat candidates as a mass group of runners, doing little to distinguish them from each other and rarely speculating on their electoral chances. The real problem for women and men council candidates is not media bias but media invisibility—getting the coverage they need to build a public profile so voters will support them.
Women politicians; horse-race journalism; municipal politics; Canada
Wagner, A. (2014) Women municipal politicians in election news, en Communication Papers, 3, 5, 35-48.