The Public Curriculum: What Viewers Learn from Media Election Coverage

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The paper takes as its underlying premise that television has often been overlooked as a learning tool. At significant times in a nation’s history, such as during federal elections, television’s role as an instrument of mass education in a democracy is often overlooked.

Research suggests that viewers learning from television. Watching television coverage can affect viewers’ behaviour, attitudes, beliefs and values and knowledge. This paper explores how what viewers learn from television coverage of the federal election has the potential to affect voting behaviour, and viewers' knowledge, beliefs and values.

The paper begins by exploring network coverage of the election. It offers a detailed content analysis to establish how much coverage each party and party leader received. It also examines placement of each item in the news line-up. It further explores who is interviewed and, therefore, given a “voice” in the coverage. It then relates these findings to an analysis of the messages viewers receive and what viewers learn as a result of the reportage.

By drawing on the literature, the paper explores what the implications of such findings might be. In addition, the author who is a journalism professor in a Canadian university, considers what her journalism students are learning when they study such coverage and how this will affect them in their future careers.


Keywords: Learning, Pedagogy, Practice, Journalism Education, Media Education
Stream: Adult, Vocational, Tertiary and Professional Learning
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. Marsha Barber

Associate Professor, School of Journalism, Ryerson University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Professor Barber's research interests include coverage of elections, gender issues, and the demographics, values and attitudes of senior broadcast journalists. She has also published in the area of pedagogy and is interested in research which enhances post secondary teaching. Professor Barber trains journalists internationally and this work has informed her research. In addition, Professor Barber's career as an award-winning documentary producer has led her to value research which has practical application both in the academy and in the field of journalism. Professor Barber was inducted into the International Who's Who this year.

Ref: L09P1350