Five Questions to Ask About the Alabama Elections

Wednesday night, journalists from around the state will meet at the Montgomery Advertiser for an SPJ-sponsored forum to look back at the media coverage of the November 2 election.

Now that the 2010 Midterm eection is behind us, the Alabama Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is convening a discussion Wednesday night specifically about what happened here with our statewide elections in Alabama.

As the Birmingham News’ Joey Kennedy wrote, Alabamians woke up to  a different state last Wednesday morning, the day after voters gave Republicans control of both houses of the legislature for the first time in 136 years.

What role, if any, did the media outlets around Alabama play in this outcome?   Wednesday night, journalists from around the state will meet at the Montgomery Advertiser for an SPJ-sponsored forum to tackle some of these issues.

Here are five (5) questions, I’d like to pose as I get ready for Wednesday night’s event:

1. Did the news media focus too much of the national elections and not enough on the range of issues in the statewide elections?

2. As for the candidates, how much did the Alabama media “keep them honest” with the relatively new Web site, Bama Fact Check

3.  Were media across the state basically “unenthusiastic” about the candidates for the top offices and that had some effect on the outcome?

4.  What role did all the negative campaigning (especially vicious robocalls) play in the outcome?

5.  What role did newspaper endorsements, or in the case of the Montgomery Advertiser, the lack of endorsement, play in the election outcome?

We’ll see what we can learn from the event on Wednesday.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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