Media coverage of electoral debates in Spain

Javier García Marín
2015 Revista Española de Ciencia Política  
Election debates are considered the main events of election campaigns since its introduction and subsequent expansion from the United States. However, as important as the discussions themselves may be the media coverage. Framing predictions and the assumptions of gatekeeping alike affirm that the coverage of political events is often not depicted accurately, mainly due to a process of selection and framing of information. Moreover, several investigations suggest that the potential impact of
more » ... ntial impact of debates on electoral behavior may be moderated by that media coverage, hence increasing the importance of such studies. This article shows that, indeed, this phenomenon happened in the news coverage of electoral debates by the Spanish media, marginalizing any coverage on policy proposals by the candidates and, therefore skewing its contents. To achieve this, the researcher makes a functional analysis of recent debates in the general election campaigns (two in 2008 and one in 2011 among the candidates for prime minister —presidente del Gobierno—). Subsequently that analysis is compared with the coverage of selected media outlets (TVE1, La Cuatro, Telecinco, La Sexta, El Pais, El Mundo, ABC and El Periódico). The results show not only the phenomenon of selection and framing but that there are other moderators such as the type of media outlet (TV or press) or corporation.
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