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Media coverage of establishment and non-establishment candidates in Argentina's 2003 presidential election

by Yang, Karen J

Abstract (Summary)
In the aftermath of Argentina’s December 2001 financial meltdown, the political class was widely blamed for the crisis that transformed this once predominantly middle-class country into a poor one. However, when new presidential elections were held in April 2003, establishment candidates generally placed higher relative to non-establishment candidates. To account for this puzzling election outcome, I examine the role that Argentine centrist print media may have played through their coverage of establishment and non-establishment candidates. The research design involves content analysis of front-page news articles from large, centrist newspapers, Clarín and La Nación, over an eleven-month period. To analyze the data, I rely on count data and multi-linear graphs as well as correlation coefficients and tests of significance. Testing two hypotheses, namely media attention and framing, I find that establishment candidates received more media attention, and perhaps more name recognition, than did non-establishment candidates. I also find that centrist print media framed candidate strengths and weaknesses in particular ways. Establishment candidates were portrayed as having competency and electability as their strengths and integrity as their weakness. In contrast, their non-establishment rivals were presented as having integrity as their strength and competency and electability as their weaknesses. This study shows that both the extensiveness and the slant in coverage may have advantaged establishment candidates over non-establishment candidates in terms of their ultimate standing in the polls. A discussion of pre-election and post-election survey results validate these findings by showing that media depictions of candidate competency and integrity were reasons named for candidate support. The value-added of this study is that it examines a macro level outcome in an original and systematic way by focusing on candidate information that voters may have relied on when making a voting decision. This, in turn, helps to shed light on the failure of democratic accountability in the aftermath of Argentina’s worst financial crisis. It also highlights how subtle yet significant media-supplied candidate information may have had in a crisis-driven election.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:media and politics argentine framing attention comparative latin american election voting campaigning

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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