Colorado Midterm election is slated for the United States of America’s (USA) statewide election day of November 8, 2022. Does this political event matters to the Coloradans media? Certainly, the media as the fourth estate of the political realm has a critical role in mobilizing Colorado citizens towards all democratic dispensations within the state.
Besides, the media act as democratic force of bringing the public attention towards the midterm election’s agenda or initiatives. The media in every democratic environment serves the purpose of bridging political information gathering and dissemination. Furthermore, the media during political party elections ensures an equitable representation of all political voices and initiatives in political discourses.
Against social responsibility and moral accountability perspectives, the media is enjoined by communal principles and cohesion values to ensure equity of attention in its political coverage and agenda setting. It is known that; the media has the tendency in projecting certain political issues with much attention whilst others are given less attention based on the public opinion the media may intend to promote.
This process of media’s selection and projection of certain issues with more media salience than others is known as the agenda setting function of the media. Simply, media could draw an intense voters’ attention to a particular ballot initiative than others, this position of news coverage could present certain ballot initiatives to the Coloradans as more important than others.
For a background, ballot initiative in the USA are efforts through which -citizens may propose to create, amend, or repeal a state law or constitutional provision through the collection of petition signatures which allows successful initiative to be presented on a ballot to voters- (Ballotpedia.org).
The first ballot initiative was initiated by the state of Georgia in 1777. Currently in 2022 midterms election are 137 statewide initiatives from 37 states. With reference to Colorado state’s 2022 State Ballot Information Booklet, voters initiated the following 11 ballot initiatives: Changes to Charitable Gaming Operations (F), Add Tax Information Table to Petitions and Ballots (GG), Extended Homestead Exemption to Gold Star Spouses (E), Increase Allowable Liquor Store Locations (124), Access to Natural Psychedelic Substances (122), New 23rd Judicial District Judges (D), State Income Tax Rate Reduction (121), Healthy School Meals for All (FF), Allow Grocery and Convenience Stores to sell Wine (125), Dedicate Revenue for Affordable Housing Programs (123), Third-Party Delivery of Alcohol Beverages (126).
It is therefore important to ascertain the level of attention Colorado media accords each of the ballot initiatives among prospective voters. This reason informed the study.
The study, using news content analysis methodology, analysed 152 online news headlines in 48 online media platforms from August to September, 2022. The 11 ballot initiatives constituted the study units with inter coder validity test score at 85%. The results are presented in the following charts showing the level of media attention in terms of news headlines visibility accorded each ballot initiative and in percentage value distributions:
Chart 1: The 11 Ballot Initiatives coverage frequency:
Chart 2: The 11 Ballot Initiatives Media Attention Distribution:
The media allotted 47% attention coverage to liquor and alcohol related ballot initiatives than healthy school meals for all. Exemption for senior citizens and disable veterans under the Gold Star Spouses initiatives received only 4% attention. Similarly, affordable housing initiative gained only 13% media attention. Considering the importance of healthy school meals for the development of child health, the media is encouraged to pay attention to the initiative.
Also, the role disabled veterans had played in the national security and protection of USA, deserves media attention in its ballot initiative agenda setting. It is recommended that civil society groups should partner with the media to promote the ballot initiatives. Future study should also extend the study beyond news headlines since news subscriptions limited the study to news headlines. Further, this study is not a critique on the media but to encourage the media in its ballot initiatives coverage.
About the Author:
Messan Mawugbe (PhD), is a strategic corporate communication consultant and university lecturer.
From: The Meadows, Castle Rock: Colorado: Email: email@example.com