By Kiara Catanzaro, ’15
Research conducted by St. Bonaventure University honor students on New York state’s 2014 gubernatorial election was presented at the 72nd annual New York State Communication Association conference titled “Alone Together: Communication and Community (or not)” in Ellenville, N.Y.
Richard Lee, professor of journalism and mass communication and Kevin Veeley, a junior accounting major, presented their research Oct. 17 at a panel titled, “Alone Together Through Political Communication.”
The panel discussed how political rhetoric, public policy communication and news could hinder the community at any level. The panel examined communication related to media coverage.
The research from their presentation titled, “What Does News Coverage of New York’s 2014 Gubernational Election Tell Us About the Health of Our Democracy?” showed that the majority of the stories presented in the media were on the politics of the campaign, not on public policy issues confronting the state.
In Lee’s honors course, Decision 2014: An Exploration of Campaign for Governor of New York State, students tracked and coded coverage of the race in 12 different news outlets and then compared voter priorities with what the media covered.
“We wanted to see what voters were most interested in and how that compared to what was being presented in the media,” Lee said. “There was a huge gap between what voters were interested in and what was reported in the media. Most voters were interested in economic issues, whereas the media mainly focused on politics.”
Lee said the research is important because the media isn’t focusing on important issues, so voters aren’t receiving the information they need to make political decisions.
“If voters can’t get information on where a candidate stands on certain issues, they’re not going to make informed, educated choices,” Lee said. “Part of the problem is that citizens don’t go to find the information they need. We have access to this information because of the Internet, but it’s a matter of finding the information instead of waiting for it to come to you in a newspaper.”
There were two additional presenters during the panel: David Habbel from Utica College, who presented “A Critique of Progressive Political Rhetoric and a Framework for Improving Its Effectiveness;” and Xin Zhou from State University of Albany, who presented “How Chinese Media Report Terrorism Attacks: A Comparison Study Between 2013 Shanshan Attach and 2014 Kunming Attack.”
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