Scantlen, Anthony J.
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Journalism
Mayors--Illinois--Chicago--Election; Local elections--Illinois--Chicago; Newspapers--Illinois--Chicago; Reporters and reporting--Illinois--Chicago
Every Chicago election brings charges by the candidates and members of the public that the media have mishandled the campaign. The 1983 and 1987 mayoral campaigns, in which voters elected and then re-elected the first black candidate to that office, were especially heated contests. This investigation examined two Chicago newspapers to determine whether one mayoral candidate, Harold Washington, (1) received a number of mentions in campaign stories that was significantly greater than his opponents and (2) whether the number of mentions considered favorable to a candidate also was significantly greater for Washington. Holding to their credo, reporters supposedly give fair representation of the events of a campaign. Under that assumption, news stories alone were considered for analysis; editorials, columns, pictures, feature stories and the like were excluded. The two newspapers selected were the city's largest- selling newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Defender, the city's largest paper geared for blacks and other minorities. For measuring the amount and direction of the news (i.e., whether favorable, unfavorable or neutral), the unit adopted was the statement. A total of 3,582 statements was recorded in both newspapers over both mayoral general elections. Of that number, 2,612 were classified as favorable to the candidates, 590 were unfavorable and 380 were neutral. The unfavorable and neutral statements had no bearing on the hypotheses. The hypotheses tested whether the sheer number of references to Washington as well as the number of favorable references, as compared to his challengers in the two elections—Bernard Epton, Edward Vrdolyak, Thomas Hynes and Donald Haider—was significantly greater in the Defender. but not so in the Tribune. The findings show a significance in the Defender in all instances versus his opponents. However, the degrees of significance in 1987 were less than in 1983. The hypotheses involving the Tribune largely were not supported; the measurements also were significant for Washington in each case except the number of mentions in 1987 compared to Vrdolyak.
Higgins, Erik K., "Chicago's 1983 and 1987 mayoral elections : a content analysis of two newspapers' coverage" (1990). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 1775.
Northern Illinois University
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