Racialized media coverage of minority candidates in the 2008 democratic presidential primary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article investigates the prominence of racial content in newspaper stories about Barack Obama and three other candidates running in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primary. Content analyses of stories appearing in six national newspapers sought to ascertain how frequent racial references appeared in news accounts of the presidential contest, how salient the racial content was, and what factors explained race-related coverage. Consistent with previous studies, the presence of one or more racial minorities in the stories increased the likelihood and presence of racial references found in the story. However, results challenge the conventional wisdom that racial content is salient enough to serve as a prominent racial cue activating readers' or voters' negative racial prejudices. This study finds that more than any other factor, journalists' desire to heighten the election's competitiveness influenced the presence and degree of racial content present in stories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-389
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • 2008 election
  • African American candidates
  • Barack Obama
  • media framing
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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