“Wildrose Wild Card”: Alberta Newspaper Coverage of the 2009 Wildrose Alliance Leadership Contest

Linda Trimble, Angelia Wagner


This study uses quantitative and qualitative methods to examine Alberta newspaper coverage of the Wildrose Party’s 2009 leadership contest. We compared the overall visibility of the two candidates, Danielle Smith and Mark Dyrholm, and contrasted news framing of their public and private personas and assessments of their ideological positions and leadership skills. Smith was more visible than her male opponent, reflecting her front-runner status during the leadership race. Somewhat surprisingly, Smith was not framed as a woman candidate, nor were evaluations of her performance marked by sexism or gender stereotypes. We argue that these findings are atypical and other women leadership contenders are not likely to receive the glowingly positive assessments Smith enjoyed. Smith’s conservative ideological position, and the possibility that she had the skills and public appeal necessary to topple the longstanding governing party, prompted the remarkably adulatory coverage accorded her candidacy by the Alberta press corps.


Alberta, gender, media, newspapers, political parties, leadership, Wildrose Party

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125