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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
Unformatted Document Text:  Moreover, the interviews strongly suggest that reporters have a deep-seated ideological bias in favor of the two-party system. They view two-person campaigns as Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates normal and multicandidate races as odd; and they accept the Democrats and Republicans as the natural holders of political power in America. The long interviews also answered Research 3 by identifying five criteria reporters use to guide their coverage decisions at the state level. These criteria also provide lessons for both third-party candidates and political journalists. For those who would run against “the system” via the Green, Libertarian, or other minor-party ticket, the five criteria discussed by newspaper reporters provide alternative candidates with a road map for how they might traverse the challenging media landscape before them and work their way onto the news agenda. As for journalism, these results should make reporters pause and take stock. It is true that the reporters who participated in this study made several excellent points that indicate the practical necessity of news organizations to use their resources wisely and provide information that will be useful to their readers. But the interviews also revealed some inherent biases that raise questions about the concept of objectivity and strongly suggest that reporters have allowed themselves to be co-opted by those in power to protect their hold on government. Political journalists should consider this lesson and ask themselves whether they are really serving democracy when they consistently ignore certain voices or frame them in ways that make them less salient or serious with the electorate. That said, it is not my intention to judge whether political journalists are doing the right or wrong thing in how they cover gubernatorial campaigns. Rather my hope is to 24

Authors: Kirch, John.
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Moreover, the interviews strongly suggest that reporters have a deep-seated 
ideological bias in favor of the two-party system.  They view two-person campaigns as 
Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
normal and multicandidate races as odd; and they accept the Democrats and Republicans 
as the natural holders of political power in America.
The long interviews also answered Research 3 by identifying five criteria 
reporters use to guide their coverage decisions at the state level.  These criteria also 
provide lessons for both third-party candidates and political journalists.  For those who 
would run against “the system” via the Green, Libertarian, or other minor-party ticket, the 
five criteria discussed by newspaper reporters provide alternative candidates with a road 
map for how they might traverse the challenging media landscape before them and work 
their way onto the news agenda.
As for journalism, these results should make reporters pause and take stock.  It is 
true that the reporters who participated in this study made several excellent points that 
indicate the practical necessity of news organizations to use their resources wisely and 
provide information that will be useful to their readers.  But the interviews also revealed 
some inherent biases that raise questions about the concept of objectivity and strongly 
suggest that reporters have allowed themselves to be co-opted by those in power to 
protect their hold on government.  Political journalists should consider this lesson and ask 
themselves whether they are really serving democracy when they consistently ignore 
certain voices or frame them in ways that make them less salient or serious with the 
That said, it is not my intention to judge whether political journalists are doing the 
right or wrong thing in how they cover gubernatorial campaigns.  Rather my hope is to 

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