Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Media Studies

Supervisor

Dr. James Compton

Abstract

To what degree does instrumental reason influence election news coverage? Using Habermas's understanding of system/life-world as a heuristic, I map the rationalization process of political communication. This illuminates the institutional logics at play in the field of politics and the field of journalism, and the way the social dynamics between them enable the framing of political life as a strategic game. This understanding is then contextualized within an analysis of the media frames that informed the Canadian federal election of 2011. I find that news coverage does tend to focus on political strategy; but this is not wholly at the expense of issue coverage, rather news frequently represents issues as strategic resources deployed by party leaders to create political advantage within public opinion. Ultimately, this thesis provides a critique of the formal organization of electoral politics around the imperatives of news production.