Newspaper Coverage of the 1990 Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Campaign


  • Erika G. King
  • Robert A. Wells
  • Elizabeth W. Wells



A content analysis of five daily newspapers' coverage of the 1990 Pennsylvania gubernatorial contest revealed that, as hypothesized, the "strategic game," particularly the horse race, was the predominant press theme. Also confirmed were the predictions that a gubernatorial challenger would receive as much coverage as the incumbent but that differences in patterns of incumbent and challenger coverage would appear. The press focused more on the challenger's campaign mistakes and problems and on the incumbent's record and experience. The fact that the challenger was a female and the incumbent a male received little media attention, and there were very few mentions of candidate gender. Differences in coverage patterns among the five papers were also found: the larger papers were more attentive to the campaign, but contrary to expectations were not more attentive to the issues. Issue-oriented coverage was most prominent in the paper published in the state capital.