Playing field leveling in media coverage of political candidates

New study suggests media coverage of political candidates is more gender-balanced than in 1980s

St. Louis, Mo. - September 06, 2006 -- A recent study of newspaper articles covering candidates running for public office between 1992 and 2000 demonstrates that, in general, media coverage is becoming more gender-balanced. Indeed, in some cases it seems that some of the disparities between coverage of male and female candidates may be advantageous to the latter.

While earlier work pointed to a large disparity between the quantity and nature of the attention given by the media to male candidates as compared to female candidates, a study published in the latest issue of Politics & Policy demonstrates that this may be changing. New data indicates that media coverage is becoming more equal in terms of its treatment of female candidates. There are some significant exceptions, for example, when women run for gubernatorial positions, in which case the female candidates generally receive lower viability ratings than their male competitors. However, the overall trend observed suggests a major shift.

For instance, the study finds that between 1992 and 2000, women running for senatorial positions had more paragraphs published about them each week compared to male candidates.

As the author of the study notes, "Though certain disparities exist, some differences now actually favor women candidates," leading to an environment more favorable to female politicians.


This study is published in the latest issue of Politics & Policy. Media wishing to receive a PDF of the study please contact: [email protected].

Farida Jalalzai, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri- St. Louis. Professor Jalalzai is available for interviews and may be contacted at [email protected].

Now in its 34th year of publication, Politics & Policy presents peer-reviewed articles across a wide range of major disciplines and subfields spanning the entire political science and policy studies spectrum, including public policy, political science, political history, political sociology, public administration, and international relations. It seeks to bring together research of a contemporary nature on these topics from a variety of disciplines and international perspectives. For more information, please visit:

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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