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Big green and careful : how major California newspapers covered two ballot initiatives in the 1990 general election

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Beall, Gary A. (main author), Hayes, James H. (author), Beall: Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, Davis, CA; Hayes: Director, Brock Center for Agricultural Communication, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA
Journal article
Publication Date:
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois Box: 90
Subject Term:
agriculture news, agriculture policy, California, USA, campaigns, environment, newspapers
James F. Evans Collection; Paper presented at the July 1991 International ACE Meeting in Rapid City, SD, Newspapers set the campaign agenda for two environmental initiatives appearing on California's November 1990 general election ballot. In doing so, they relied heavily upon unnamed sources (proponents, experts, environmentalists, etc.) and poorly identified advocacy groups. Although the agricultural community perceived both ballot measures to be agricultural issues, the media defined them in a much broader, environmental context. The agricultural industry-sponsored initiative was treated as a non-issue by the newspapers. It received only five percent of the news and editorial space devoted to the two initiatives. However, pro and con coverage of each initiative was generally balanced, reflecting an overall attempt at fairness and willingness to present both sides of the issue. (original)