Student journalists offer more informative election coverage

The Iowa State researchers found that student journalists are more likely to focus on candidate profiles and issues. | File image
Students at Iowa State University have provided local communities with more informative election coverage to help voters make informed decisions during this election season.

Raluca Cozma, an associate professor in the ISU Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, conducted a study with Aimee Burch, a former ISU graduate student, to find the best coverage of presidential candidates.

Voters use presidential candidate stories to make informed decisions about electing a new president. When reporters frame these stories and sources, they can change voter perception and behavior.

“Profiles and issue-based stories allow voters to make a more informed decision,” Cozma said. “We’ve seen a decrease in political interest and participation. I think this type of election coverage is a good recipe to follow to get students engaged, by breaking away from the habitual horse-race framing and trying to make the story relevant to the audience.”

The two researchers found that student journalists are more likely to focus on candidate profiles and issues. This makes it easier for voters to make informed decisions as they elect a new president.

“Student media tend to break away from the norm. They’re more neutral in tone, and they rely on a more diverse pool of sources,” Cozma said. “While they still had access to the candidates or their campaigns, because in all of these states candidates were campaigning aggressively, they also went beyond that and tried to make their stories relate to their audience.”

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