What the media missed in the 2018 campaign for governor in New York

By Richard Lee

News coverage of New York’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign provided voters with sparse information on the public policy issues confronting the state.

A content analysis of 15 of the state’s major news outlets found that the preponderance of stories dealt with horse race items such as polls, fundraising and endorsements. Issues such as the economy, education and public safety received little coverage.

In the study, 192 news stories posted about the race during October were coded by subject. A total of 155 articles focused on the politics of the campaign; the others concentrated on a variety of public policy issues. Among the issue-based stories, the economy was the most frequently reported topic, appearing as the primary subject of 16 articles, followed by health care with eight and the environment with seven.

The study demonstrates the lack of issue-based coverage and the need to develop options to encourage the media, as well as the citizenry, to increase attention on public policy because an informed and educated electorate is a critical component of democracy.

Richard Lee is an associate professor in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University.

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