Amber Boydstun


Amber Boydstun was a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. Boydstun is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California–Davis.

Her research examines the interaction between media and politics, with a focus on how different media portrayals of the same policy issue can prompt people to respond to that issue in different ways. Using lab experiments, large-scale media studies, and manual and computational text analysis, she studies how issues make the news; how issues are framed in the news; and how media attention and framing can shape public opinion and policy. Her first book, The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence (Cambridge University Press, 2008, with Frank R. Baumgartner and Suzanna De Boef), documents a 45-year evolution of US media framing of capital punishment and shows that this change in framing significantly influenced both public support for the policy and the number of people sentenced to death. The book received the 2008 Gladys Kammerer Award for best political science publication in the field of national policy. Her second book, Making the News: Politics, the Media, and Agenda Setting (University of Chicago Press, 2013) shows that while each day’s news may seem unpredictable, in fact there are strong determinants (like public concern and how congested the media agenda is) of which issues make the news and when. The book received the 2018 Doris Graber Award for best publication in political communication in the last decade.

Her current research includes a book project on media storms, an analysis of journalistic election coverage in Western Europe, and testing whether political parties “own” not only issues but ways of framing issues.

Boydstun holds a PhD from the Pennsylvania State University and a BA from St. John’s College (“the Great Books school”).

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Recommendations For Media Covering The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election

by Amber Boydstunvia The Election Coverage and Democracy (ECAD) Network
Monday, January 25, 2021

As we count down to Election Day in the U.S., November 3, 2020, we find ourselves at a dangerous moment for democracy. As scholarly experts in politics and media, we draw on research from our field to offer practical, nonpartisan, evidence-based recommendations to journalists covering the 2020 U.S. presidential election. We hope these recommendations—based on decades of research into electoral processes, news coverage, and public opinion—support the important work journalists are doing to cover the election and safeguard democracy.