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Political Journalism Represented by Headline News: Canadian Public and Commercial Media Compared

  • Blake Andrew (a1)

Abstract. Headlines play a key role in influencing how and about what citizens are informed. In news media, their task is threefold: to represent stories, signal informational hierarchy and draw publicity for (or sell) what follows. This article examines the representative dimension of headline news content for the 2006 Canadian federal election campaign, testing whether public media headlines more faithfully reflected story-level coverage than commercial media. Comparing both public and commercial media coverage of this watershed election presents a unique opportunity to assess whether the overarching macro-incentive of commercial media—profit-making—may have influenced micro-level relationships between headlines and stories. Results of 55-day multiplatform analysis (N = 11,002) involving CBC election media and 12 commercial newsrooms reveal few differences with respect the representativeness of headlines from public and commercial media, save for the presence of journalists' opinion in headline content.

Résumé. Les titres influencent comment les citoyens sont informés, et à propos de quoi ils en pensent. Les titres ont trois objectifs dans les nouvelles : ils résument les nouvelles, signalent quelles nouvelles sont les plus importantes, et vendre l'histoire complète qui suit. L'article examine le niveau de représentativité des titres dans les nouvelles sur la campagne de l'élection fédérale canadienne de 2006. Plus précisément, il teste si les titres venant des médias publics sont plus représentatifs que les nouvelles dans le média commercial. En comparant la couverture médiatique dans cette élection structurante, nous explorons si la motivation des médias commerciaux, notamment le profit, peut influencer le lien entre les titres et les articles. Les résultats de l'analyse multiplateforme de la campagne qui durait 55 jours (N = 11 002) incluent la couverture sur la CBC et 12 médias commerciaux. Ils indiquent qu'il n'y a pas beaucoup de différence dans la représentativité des titres entre les sources publiques et commerciales, sauf la présence de l'opinion dans le contenu des titres.

Corresponding author
Blake Andrew, Département de science politique, Université de Montréal, CP 6128, Succ. Centre-ville, Montreal QC H3C 3J7,
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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
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