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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
Unformatted Document Text:  Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates quotations were entered into a Word document so that the responses of each reporter to the same question could be compared side by side. This process was helpful in identifying common patterns and attitudes that surfaced from the interviews. Results The in-depth interviews identified five possible explanations for why even the most serious third-party gubernatorial candidates receive scant coverage in the press. Each of these reasons has multiple facets and suggests both ideological and practical reasons why reporters choose to emphasize some viewpoints and sideline others. First, the interviews suggest that while campaign journalists see their role as helping inform the public so that citizens can make educated decisions at the ballot box, reporters ultimately define those responsibilities within the parameters established by the two major parties. More specifically, it is clear from the ways that political journalists describe their jobs that they rely on institutions dominated by the Democrats and Republicans to tell them which issues and candidates are important and worthy of coverage. Second, the interviews indicate that regional reporters define the term “campaign” almost exclusively as a contest between people or political camps. Such a definition not only excludes other, more idealistic notions of what a campaign can be in a democratic society, but it also establishes a journalistic mindset that immediately favors candidates from the two major parties at the expense of dissent, which is seen as less newsworthy because it is unlikely to prevail on Election Day. Third, in their language and their political outlook, reporters accept the hegemony of the two-party system. While reporters sometimes ruminate over whether 8

Authors: Kirch, John.
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Turning a Blind Eye: Why Reporters Ignore Third-Party Candidates
quotations were entered into a Word document so that the responses of each reporter to 
the same question could be compared side by side.  This process was helpful in 
identifying common patterns and attitudes that surfaced from the interviews.
The in-depth interviews identified five possible explanations for why even the 
most serious third-party gubernatorial candidates receive scant coverage in the press. 
Each of these reasons has multiple facets and suggests both ideological and practical 
reasons why reporters choose to emphasize some viewpoints and sideline others.
First, the interviews suggest that while campaign journalists see their role as 
helping inform the public so that citizens can make educated decisions at the ballot box, 
reporters ultimately define those responsibilities within the parameters established by the 
two major parties.  More specifically, it is clear from the ways that political journalists 
describe their jobs that they rely on institutions dominated by the Democrats and 
Republicans to tell them which issues and candidates are important and worthy of 
Second, the interviews indicate that regional reporters define the term “campaign” 
almost exclusively as a contest between people or political camps.  Such a definition not 
only excludes other, more idealistic notions of what a campaign can be in a democratic 
society, but it also establishes a journalistic mindset that immediately favors candidates 
from the two major parties at the expense of dissent, which is seen as less newsworthy 
because it is unlikely to prevail on Election Day.
 Third, in their language and their political outlook, reporters accept the 
hegemony of the two-party system.  While reporters sometimes ruminate over whether 

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