In modern democracies, election campaigns are contested to a large extent in the mass media. Voters rely on news coverage for information about parties and candidates; the latter count on news coverage to communicate their messages.
The five studies in this volume examine election coverage in Canada. They report the views of journalists, party officials, advocacy groups, and media critics. For the most part, the studies deal with aspects of electoral communication not amenable to regulation, although they provide a context for re-examining regulations and raise questions about traditional practices.
William O. Gilsdorf and Robert Bernier examine the views of Fernch- and Enlgish-speaking journalists regarding ethical and practical issues in election coverage and provide a useful overview of previous research. Jean Charron traces the development of the relationship between candidates and the media in Quebec since 1945. Christopher Dornan considers concerns raised by politicians about the accountability of the print media for campaign coverage and the crucial role of a free press. The issue of access to media coverage is considered in separate studies by Robert A. Hackett, with respect to smaller parties, and Eileen Saunders, regardin minority groups.
Relying on interviews and content analysis, the studies bring new information and perspectives to the study of campaign coverage.
Frederick J. Fletcher is a Research Coordinator at the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing.
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