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Measuring and Explaining the Diversity of Voices and Viewpoints in the News: A comparative study on the determinants of content diversity of immigration news


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News media can be considered to fulfil their democratic role as a “marketplace of ideas” only if they present a diverse content that gives space to a wider range of ideas and viewpoints. But how can content diversity be assessed? And what determines actor and viewpoint diversity in the first place? By employing measurements of actor and viewpoint diversity at the article and newspaper level, this study provides a complete overview on the content diversity of immigration news, and it investigates factors that have an impact on content diversity of immigration newspaper articles in Belgium, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom (2013–2014). The results of a multilevel analysis indicate that both the articles’ size and the elite character of a newspaper play a key role in enhancing news’ multiperspectivalness. Also, the findings show that these two measurements of content diversity are different yet related to each other.
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Journalism Studies
ISSN: 1461-670X (Print) 1469-9699 (Online) Journal homepage:
Measuring and Explaining the Diversity of Voices
and Viewpoints in the News
Andrea Masini, Peter Van Aelst, Thomas Zerback, Carsten Reinemann, Paolo
Mancini, Marco Mazzoni, Marco Damiani & Sharon Coen
To cite this article: Andrea Masini, Peter Van Aelst, Thomas Zerback, Carsten Reinemann,
Paolo Mancini, Marco Mazzoni, Marco Damiani & Sharon Coen (2017): Measuring and
Explaining the Diversity of Voices and Viewpoints in the News, Journalism Studies, DOI:
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A comparative study on the determinants of
content diversity of immigration news
Andrea Masini, Peter Van Aelst, Thomas Zerback,
Carsten Reinemann, Paolo Mancini, Marco Mazzoni,
Marco Damiani, and Sharon Coen
News media can be considered to full their democratic role as a marketplace of ideasonly if they
present a diverse content that gives space to a wider range of ideas and viewpoints. But how can
content diversity be assessed? And what determines actor and viewpoint diversity in the rst place?
By employing measurements of actor and viewpoint diversity at the article and newspaper level,
this study provides a complete overview on the content diversity of immigration news, and it inves-
tigates factors that have an impact on content diversity of immigration newspaper articles in
Belgium, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom (20132014). The results of a multilevel analysis
indicate that both the articlessize and the elite character of a newspaper play a key role in enhan-
cing newsmultiperspectivalness. Also, the ndings show that these two measurements of content
diversity are different yet related to each other.
KEYWORDS comparative research; content analysis; content diversity; journalism; multilevel;
Political communication scholars generally agree that the ideal of a multiperspecti-
valpressthat is, a press that guarantees access to diverse sectors of society, allowing the
presentation of diverse perspectives on a certain issue (Gans 1979,2011)is achieved only
if news media foster the diversity of their content (Napoli 1999; Baker 2002). As stated by
Choi (2009), content diversity is ultimately an indicator of the quality of news reporting. For
this reason, both the assessment of diversity and the identication of its determinants are
crucial. In which ways can content diversity be exhaustively measured? Under which cir-
cumstances can one expect to nd higher or lower levels of content diversity? A number
of studies in the eld have attempted to conceptualise and measure news content diversity
(Voakes et al. 1996; Benson 2009; Choi 2009; Carpenter 2010; Humprecht and Büchel 2013).
Yet, this research has proven elusive in dening and employing different measurements of
content diversity and, with a few exceptions (see Benson 2009; Humprecht and Büchel
2013), it has neglected to investigate the factors that make the content more or less
Journalism Studies, 2017
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Drawing upon a comparative cross-country content analysis of the news coverage of
immigration in four European countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom),
this study aims to examine systematically the impact of different factors on news content
diversity. According to Benson (2009, 403), the issue of immigration is suitable for the analy-
sis of variation in the diversity of news content, as it is a multifaceted and complextopic
that is typically disputed by a broad range of social actors aiming to put forward their view-
points in the news in order to inuence public opinion.
The paper proceeds as follows. After having provided an exhaustive conceptualis-
ation of content diversity, we present a model to identify the factors that might shape
news content diversity, and we present hypotheses on the direction of these inuences.
Then, we explain the methodological choices that have been made to measure content
diversity and gauge the impact of the factors affecting the level of multiperspectival report-
ing. Finally, we present our ndings and discuss them in light of the democratic role of the
Theoretical Framework and Hypotheses
Conceptualisation of Content Diversity
As noted by Van Cuilenburg (1999, 188), content diversity corresponds to the hetero-
geneity of media content in terms of one or more specied characteristics. For example,
media content can vary according to the issues or the news stories that are presented (Car-
penter 2010; Humprecht and Büchel 2013), news genres, geographic locations (Choi 2009),
etc. This study investigates the variety of two of the most important elements of news
content, namely social actors and viewpoints. As noted by Benson and Wood (2015), the
analysis of voices in the news is a central concern for journalism studies, in that actors
ability to speak in the news is key to shaping the debate on a certain issue. However, as
the authors argue, their ability to express viewpoints on the issue under discussion is
what really allows them to contribute to the framing of a topic. In the words of Griswold
(1998), it is the diversity of viewpoints that can provide readers with a wide range of per-
spectives on a given issue. This conceptualisation, originally proposed by McQuail and Van
Cuilenburg (1983), is similar to the one used by Baden and Springer (2015) and by Benson
(2009, 406), who denes content diversity in terms of institutionaland ideological multi-
perspectivalness. Similarly, Voakes et al. (1996) examine content diversity as the variety of
news sources and the dispersion of viewpoints in the news.
Moreover, the conceptualisation of content diversity differs according to the level of
analysis. Diversity can be measured at the level of the single unit of informationlike a tel-
evision news item or a newspaper articleas the variety of different social actors and view-
points that are represented therein. Alternatively, it can be gauged at a broader level as the
evenness of the distribution of these two dimensions within a news outletlike a television
news broadcast or a newspaperthroughout a specic period of time. The difference
between both levels is more than a technical measurement distinction and suggests a
different way that a news consumer learns about an issue. If we focus our measurement
on the article level, diversity implies that each story should give space to several types of
actor and/or to multiple viewpoints. Only in this way, when reading a single news item,
can a reader get a broader understanding of the issue. However, a news outlet can also
guarantee content diversity by portraying different actors and viewpoints in different
news items. Benson (2009,2013) notes that this is a typical characteristic of the French
debate ensembleform of news: for French journalists it is not the single article that
matters, but the entire page, which includes, for example, an interview with the minister
of immigration alongside an article telling the personal story of an immigrant family enter-
ing the country. In this case, both stories together provide the reader with multiple perspec-
tives, while on the article level the diversity of actors and opinions is limited.
Since these measurements of content diversity yield different values, extant studies
that focus exclusively on one level convey a rather incomplete picture of the diversity of
news content. This study seeks to overcome this inadequacy by mapping and comparing
how newspapers perform in actor and viewpoint diversity both at the article and at the
newspaper level. Also, we shed light on the relationship between measurements at both
levels through the analysis of the determinants of content diversity, which is central to
this paper. Do different factors have the same impact on content diversity measured at
the article and at the newspaper level? To this purpose, in the next section, we introduce
a conceptual model including the main factors that might inuence actor and viewpoint
diversity in the news.
Dening a Multilevel Model of Inuence on Content Diversity
Although there is a long tradition of research on the diversity of news (e.g. Voakes
et al. 1996; Benson 2009; Choi 2009; Carpenter 2010; Humprecht and Büchel 2013), two
recent journalism studies explicitly focus on the determinants of newscontent diversity.
Drawing upon Bourdieuseld theory (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992), Benson (2009)
argues that content diversity of immigration-related news in France and the United
States is shaped by the interaction of the journalistic eld with the political and economic
elds, as well as by features of the journalistic eld itself. Within the political eld, the
characteristics of the party system, along with governmental policies on press regulation
and subsidies, might have an impact on content diversity. Concerning the economic
eld, advertising support is considered to play a key role in shaping actor and viewpoint
diversity. Finally, moving to the journalistic eld, the author observes that content diversity
might be shaped through the formats in which news is presented, as well as by the cultural
capital of newspapers and their audiences. In a more recent study on the online reporting
of the Occupymovement, Humprecht and Büchel (2013) draw on Shoemaker and Reeses
(1996)Hierarchy-of-Inuences Modeland dene a pattern to identify factors at the
national and organisational level that might explain variations in content diversity. At the
national macro-level, they examine the inuence of the relevance of the topic, as well as
that of macroeconomic variables, on content diversity. At the organisational meso-level,
the authors analyse the role played by the resources of the news organisation and its orien-
tation towards quality journalism.
Building on the multilevel approach of these contributions, we aim to dene a model
that pinpoints the levels in which forces that shape content diversity are located. The idea,
drawn from the hierarchical approach proposed by Shoemaker and Reese (1996), is that
news contentthe nal outcome of the journalistic process (Carpenter 2010)is
embedded in multiple spheres of inuence corresponding to the different levels that
shape news production (Figure 1).
At the micro-level, the article formati.e. its length and typemight affect content
diversity, while at the meso-level the characteristics of the news organisation, namely its
size and the preferences of its target audience, can inuence actor and viewpoint diversity.
Finally, at the macro-level, countriescharacteristics belonging to the journalistic and issue-
specic dimensions are potential driving forces behind the diversity of immigration news.
In the following sections, we formulate hypotheses on the inuence of these factors on
content diversity of immigration news.
Inuence of Articles Characteristics: Length and Type
The theoretical foundations that formal characteristics of communication might have
an inuence on the content go back to ancient philosophy. Plato observed that the forms of
human conversation (which we can conceive in the broader sense of mediated communi-
cation) can determine the content that is expressed. As our study encompasses just one
medium, namely newspapers, we do not think of formas medium type. Instead, we
examine the way in which information is organised and presented to the newspapers
readers (Altheide 1985; Barnhurst and Nerone 2001). Previous research on the deliberative
quality of televised messages (Postman 1985; Bourdieu 1996; Sartori 1997) concludes that
televisions time constraints jeopardise the articulate rational character of media discourse.
Likewise, space constraints in the print press might affect content diversity: in the presence
of shorter articles, the space for the expression of different social actors and arguments is
reduced. This question has been explored by Humprecht and Büchel (2013), who nd that
the length of online news articles about the Occupy movement is a key element in allowing
for higher levels of diversity. Hence, we posit the following hypotheses:
H1: The length of articles about immigration has a positive effect on the levels of actor
diversity (H1a) and viewpoint diversity (H1b).
Multilevel model of inuence on content diversity
Furthermore, we argue that the type of article might also play a key role in shaping
content diversity of news about immigration. Based on a deductive analysis, we distinguish
between six main article types: news reports, special reports, editorials, opinion articles,
interviews and letters from readers. We argue that differences in the primary purpose
of these news types might have an impact on content diversity. On the one hand, editorials,
opinion pieces, interviews and letters from readers are more opinionated article types that
have the primary aim of conveying a particular point of view (of the journalist or another
agent) about the issue under discussion. On the other hand, news reports and special
reports are more informative types that mainly provide the reader with an account of
facts. When writing articles of this kind, journalists are more likely to follow the principle
of objectivity, which is the dening norm of modern journalism(Patterson 1998, 28),
by promoting the representation of diverse actor and viewpoint categories. Nevertheless,
we have to recognise that special reports have the specic goal of providing an in-depth
account of a topic, usually by covering opposing voices and different ideas, which makes
them the most suitable article type to promote content diversity. Hence, we hypothesise
H2: Special reports about immigration enhance the levels of actor diversity (H2a) and
viewpoint diversity (H2b), as compared to news reports. On the contrary, more opinio-
nated news types about immigration decrease the levels of actor diversity (H2c) and view-
point diversity (H2d), as compared to news reports.
Inuence of Newspapers Characteristics: Size and Audiences Cultural
In order to study inuences at the meso-level, we start from Reeses(2001) assump-
tion that the news is the product of an organisation that is driven by specic goals, and has
a certain structure to enforce them. Simply put, at this level we consider the capability and
the will of a newspaper organisation to foster content diversity. Previous studies have noted
a positive relationship between the newspapers size and its capability of providing multi-
perspectival reporting. Humprecht and Büchel (2013)nd that the dimensions of a news
organisation in terms of its human resourcesi.e. the number of journalists working for
itmatters in enhancing content diversity. We argue that the size of a newspaper is the
combination between the scope of the outlet and the dimensions of its staff, with the
former often (but not always) determining the latter. Local newspapers are considered
smallbecause of a more limited geographical scope, which typically results in a smaller
staff covering a narrower range of events at the local level. By contrast, national newspapers
are bigas they have to deal with a wider array of events and actors at the national and
international level. Although there are examples of local newspapers having larger news-
rooms than national ones, we expect that in general the latter will employ more journalists
to cover a greater geographical scope. This is even more likely if we consider that the crisis
of the media sector has hurt local news organisations the most, forcing them to impose sig-
nicant staff cutbacks (Franklin and Murphy 1998). Consequently, we expect that big
national newspapers provide a more diverse coverage of the issue of immigration than
smalllocal newspapers. For example, we expect that national news outlets will rely
more on foreign correspondents to enhance geographic proximity when covering key
events related to immigration, or to gain direct access to the voice of international
politicians (e.g. in Brussels or in Washington), thereby increasing the chances of providing
more content diversity compared to local papers. Also, due to their bigger weight in the
national media landscape, national outlets are usually granted a preferential channel to
reach various key actors in society (experts, politicians, members of international organis-
ations, etc.) and include more diverse opinions in the news. A formal test of the relationship
between a newspapers sizein terms of its circulationand the diversity of its content is
done by Voakes et al. (1996), but they nd that smaller newspapers do not display lower
levels of content diversity. Nonetheless, because these results might be biased by the
local scope of their study, we still expect the following:
H3: Immigration news in national newspapers will have higher levels of actor diversity
(H3a) and viewpoint diversity (H3b), as compared to local newspapers.
Furthermore, we argue that the will of a newspaper to foster content diversity
depends on its editorial orientation in order to match the cultural capitalof its target audi-
ence (Benson 2009, 405). Literature on economic explanations of news construction
demonstrates that newspapers are able to attract readers based on the audiences cultural
preferences (Callaghan and Schnell 2001; Hamilton 2004; Baron 2006; Gentzkow and
Shapiro 2006). According to Peterson and Kern (1996), the omnivorousnessof cultural
tastesi.e. a cultural appetite for a diverse range of cultural productionis a key charac-
teristic of highbrow audiences, as opposed to the more limited range of preferences
typical of middlebrow and lowbrow audiences (see the denition of Levine 1988; DiMaggio
1991). In line with this, Benson (2009) suggests that elite newspapers targeting a highbrow
audience are likely to promote diversity of their content in order to match the more omni-
vorouspredisposition of their readers, whereas popular newspapers targeting more mid-
dlebrow and lowbrow readers deliver a less complex, less diverse content. Consistent with
this, Roggeband and Vliegenthart (2007) notice that when covering immigration and inte-
gration, Dutch newspapers targeting an elite audience make use of more diverse frames
compared to outlets with a more popular readership. Thus, we hypothesise the following:
H4: Immigration news in elite newspapers will feature higher levels of actor diversity (H4a)
and viewpoint diversity (H4b), as compared to popular newspapers.
Inuence of Country-related Characteristics: Journalistic Dimension and
Finally, this study explores inter-country variation in the levels of content diversity.
Cross-national differences in news content diversity have been investigated by Esser and
Umbricht (2013) within a broader longitudinal study on the objectivity paradigm within
Western press systems. Their ndings show that the inclusion of opposing viewpoints in
political newswhich is an indicator of content diversitywas the lowest in Italy, while
the results for the British press are aligned with those of countries belonging to the Demo-
cratic-Corporatist model (Hallin and Mancini 2004), namely Germany and Switzerland. Fur-
thermore, as observed by Martin (1988) and Choi (2009), geographic proximity to the key
locations where an issue is unfolding enhances the medias potential to provide a diverse
coverage of the topic. During the period under study, according to the European Union
agency Frontex, over 200,000 migrants have entered Europe by sea through the Italian
island of Lampedusa. As observed by Cuttitta (2014, 196), the island has become the
symbol of migration into Europe, as well as the theatre of the border play’”,agurative
stage in which a large array of social actors debate on migration control (De Swert,
Schacht, and Masini 2015). Contrary to the negative effect on content diversity stemming
from its journalistic characteristics, geographic proximity to this relevant place for immigra-
tionboth in its real and symbolic dimensionsmight correspond to a more diverse cov-
erage of immigration in Italian newspapers. We will thus investigate the interplay between
these two opposing forces.
Data and Methods
This study analyses news about immigration in a sample of newspapers in Belgium
(Flanders), Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, between 1 January 2013 and 30 April
2014. The newspaper sample includes 22 titles with a large variation in terms of
national/local scope and audiencescultural preferences (see Appendix A). For Belgium,
we selected six news outlets from Flanders, the Dutch-speaking community: De Morgen,
de Standaard,De Tijd,Gazet van Antwerpen,Het Nieuwsblad and Het Laatste Nieuws. The
German sample includes ve titles: Die Welt,Berliner Morgenpost,Der Tagesspiegel,Süd-
deutsche Zeitung and Stuttgarter Nachrichten. In Italy, we selected ve outlets: La Repubblica,
Gazzetta di Modena,Il Giornale,Il Messaggero and Il Mattino. Finally, for the United Kingdom,
we chose The Times,The Independent,The Sun,Daily Mirror,Manchester Evening News and
London Evening Standard.
Through a Boolean string, translated in every language of interest, we searched in
online databases for articles about immigration, this being dened as the entrance and
the presence of people in a country other than their country of birth with the purpose
of settling down (drawn from the United Nationsdenition of immigration). This all-
encompassing search criterion allows us to grasp the different aspects of the multifaceted
and evolving phenomenon of immigration, therefore ensuring comparability among
countries and across time. The outcome of the rst search for the whole period was
further ltered, and ultimately resulted in a nal sample consisting of 2490 news articles
(642 for Belgium, 484 for Germany, 822 for Italy, 542 for the United Kingdom). The items
were coded quantitatively by coders based in each country of the study. Extensive training
was provided by a master coder in every country in which the codersteams were based.
Intercoder reliability was tested for each country on a 10 per cent subsample. For the vari-
able indicating the article type, Krippendorffs alpha scores range from 0.93 to 1 in the four
countries. The scores concerning the actor variables range from 0.62 to 1, with an average
of 0.78, and coefcients of the variables indicating viewpoints range from 0.60 to 0.66.
Because alpha is sensitive to skewed variables (as is the case for actors and viewpoints,
which present a large amount of missing values), we also calculated the percentage of
intercoder agreement with Holstis formula (Holsti 1969). For actors, Holstis scores range
from 0.70 to 1, with an average of 0.87, while they range from 0.88 to 0.96 for the viewpoint
variables (average 0.92). On top of this, we calculated intercoder reliability across countries
on a smaller subsample of articles in English, with overall satisfying results.
A maximum of 10 quoted or paraphrased actors were coded in every article. Actors
were identied by codes corresponding to different actor groups in society (see Figure 2).
As we are mainly interested in the diversity of social groups that enter the news, all national
political actors were considered as one group. In contrast with studies on political balance,
we do not focus on the presence of different types of politicians, but rather on the attention
for politicians versus all other type of actors that are involved in the immigration debate.
Besides, coders indicated the presence of Viewpoints about immigration and immigrants
in every news item. Based on existing literature on viewpoint and frames regarding immi-
gration (e.g. Van Gorp 2005; Benson 2009,2013), we distinguished between four types of
distinct viewpoints, that were operationalised as dummies
.Negative: Negative characterisation of immigrants/immigration (e.g. immigration is
bad for the economy, immigrants carry diseases, they commit crimes, etc.)
.Administrative burden: Immigrants (or immigration) are seen as creating administrative
problems (e.g. concerns about the management of the arrivals, food supply, hygiene,
.Victimisation: Immigrants are portrayed as victims (e.g. immigrants are victims of unjust
government policies, trafckers, they have to deal with racism/xenophobia, etc.)
.Positive: Positive characterisation of immigrants/immigration (e.g. immigration
empowers workforce, enhances positive multiculturalism, immigrants work hard,
Starting from these variables, we measure content diversity both at the article and at
the newspaper level. At the article level, actor diversity is a count variableranging from 1
to 10corresponding to the total number of social categories that are represented in an
article. Viewpoint diversity, also a count variable, corresponds to the total number of differ-
ent viewpoints that are expressed in the article, and it ranges from 1 to 4. It is important to
note that articles that do not feature any actor or viewpoint are excluded from the analysis.
Instead of representing the lowest level of diversity, we argue that articles of this kind are
neutral because all voices and views on immigration are absent. Only if an article provides
at least one actor or viewpoint is it worth analysing how diverse the range of actors and
viewpoints is. At the newspaper level, actor diversity is measured as the evenness of the
Distribution of actor categories across countries, N= 6863 (Belgium N= 1679; Germany
N= 1625, Italy N= 1932, United Kingdom N= 1627). The gure does not include the
following categories, which were under-represented in the sample: business/corporate/
nance, journalists and media celebrities, trafckers/smugglers
distribution of the total number of actors in the corresponding categories. The same is done
for viewpoint diversity. This is calculated by means of Simpsons standardised diversity
index (D
), a standardised calculation of Simpsons diversity index (D). Although Simpsons
measure of content diversity is sensitive to the number of categories that are included in
the calculation, we keep this sensitivity to a minimum by using its standardised version,
which is more suitable to compare diversity values across distributions comprising different
numbers of categories (Mcdonald and Dimmick 2003). The formula for SimpsonsD
where p
is the proportion in the ith category, categories = ithrough kis the number of cat-
egories in the distribution. SimpsonsD
ranges from 0 to 1. In the case that the entire popu-
lation belongs to one category (i.e. lowest level of diversity), the score would be 0. The
greater the extent to which the population is evenly distributed among the categories,
the closer the score will be to 1.
Moving on to the determinants of content diversity, the length of an article is an
ordinal variable including the values 1 = very short (less than or equal to 200 words); 2 =
short (between 201 and 400 words); 3 = medium (between 401 and 600 words); 4 = long
(more than or equal to 601 words). These cut-off points were established following an
inductive analysis of the length of articles in each country under study. The variable
article typeencompasses three categories: news report, special report and opinionated
news type. The last category includes editorials, opinion pieces, interviews and letters of
readers. Moreover, newspapersorientation towards a highbrow, middlebrow and
lowbrow audience was dened based on the extant literature, as well as on national
expertsjudgements. We grouped lowbrow and middlebrow newspapers together, and
created a dummy variable with one category indicating elite newspapers and the other
one for popular outlets. Likewise, the national/local character of a newspaper was operatio-
nalised as a dummy variable.
In the following section, we present the results of the study. Measurements of actor
and viewpoint diversity at the article and newspaper level are presented and compared.
Moreover, we test the inuence of the different factors on content diversity. For diversity
measured at the newspaper level, we test the inuences of articlesand newspapers
characteristics separately, by means of a set of linear regressions, and we explore a
pattern of intercountry differences by comparing the scores. For this test, the determinants
at the article levellength and article typeare operationalised as dummy variables. The
rst dummy measures whether a newspaper has a majority of long or short articles. It is
constructed by subtracting the sum of very short and short articles from the sum of
medium and long articles. Positive values show that there are more medium and long
articles in the newspaper (category newspaper with a majority of longer articles). By con-
trast, negative values indicate that there are more short and very short articles in a news-
paper (category newspaper with a majority of shorter articles).Similarly, the second
dummy shows whether a newspaper employs more special reports than opinionated
news articles such as editorials, opinions, interviews and letters to the editor. We dene
special reports as articles that aim to give insights into a specic topic, characterised by
an in-depth angle on the issue, and that are generally longer than news reports. We sub-
tracted the average of the proportions of opinionated news types from the proportion of
special reports, holding the proportion of news reports constant. Positive scores indicate
that this is a newspaper with a higher proportion of special reports, whereas negative
scores show that this is a newspaper with a higher proportion of opinionated news
types. In order to test the impact of the determinants of the article-based measurements
of diversity, we have to use either a Poisson or a negative binomial regression model,
because of the count nature of the dependent variables. We tested the assumption of equi-
dispersion, which does hold, and therefore selected the Poisson regression model. Finally,
to account for the clustering of the articles in countries, we add country dummies to the
Before we test for the factors that inuence content diversity, we present descriptive
results of the actors and viewpoints in the news in the four countries under study. Figure 2
shows that the distribution of social actor categories is very similar across countries. Not
surprisingly, national politicians are the most quoted or paraphrased social group in
every country of the sample (ranging from 53 per cent of total actors in Italy to 32 per
cent in Belgium). After national and international political actors, space is given in all
countries to ordinary people and public opinion voices, followed by immigrants and civil
society actors. The relative low presence of immigrant voices, the real protagonists of immi-
gration news, is similar across countries, ranging from 11 per cent of total actors in Belgium
to 7 per cent in the United Kingdom. We also note that actors from the business, corporate
and nance sectors were all but invisible in the news.
If we exclude those news items that do not feature any actor (not presented), each
article features on average less than two social categories (N= 2138). Almost half of the
articles include just one actor category (49 per cent), while 29 per cent feature two actor
categories, 15 per cent present three and 6 per cent present four different social categories.
When articles give voice to just one type of actor (N= 1047), this is the national politicians
category in 51 per cent of the cases, and in 14 per cent that of international politicians,
whereas in just 6 per cent of the cases are immigrants the one and only voice in an
article. When the range of actors talking in an article opens up, national politicians are
very likely to be included. Most of the articles that give voice to two social groups (N=
609), combine national political actors with public agencies (13 per cent), or with civil
society actors (11 per cent), or with international political actors (also 11 per cent).
Finally, national politicians talk in combination with immigrants in 4 per cent of the
cases. Even when an article includes three different social categories (N= 317), the most
recurring combinations feature national politicians: either with immigrants and ordinary
people (9 per cent), or with public agencies and ordinary people (7 per cent), or with
public agencies and civil society actors (7 per cent).
Similarly, 65 per cent of the articles that express viewpoints on immigration (N=
1809) present just one type of viewpoint, while 29 per cent feature two distinct viewpoints.
Only 3 per cent of the total articles give space to three or four different viewpoints. Single-
viewpoint articles (N= 1204) mostly give space to the representation of immigrants as
victims (43 per cent). In 28 per cent of the cases, the article is fully negatively slanted,
and in 15 per cent of the cases it just deals with the administrative problems arising
from immigration. Finally, just 14 per cent of the articles are exclusively positively
slanted. The victimisation category prevails also when the article includes more than one
viewpoint. When two viewpoints are presented (N= 539), we mostly nd a combination of
victimisation with positive viewpoints (30 per cent), while fewer articles combine victimisa-
tion viewpoints with the view of immigration as an administrative burden (21 per cent), or
with negative viewpoints (18 per cent). Truly balanced stories on immigration presenting
both negative and positive viewpoints are rather exceptional (11 per cent).
Measurements of Content Diversity
We now move to a closer analysis of the measurements of content diversity at both
the article and the newspaper level. Our results show that newspapers include on average
less than two different actor categories per article, excluding those that have no actors
(mean = 1.82, SD = 0.24), which gives the idea of a rather low actor diversity. On the con-
trary, actor diversity scores calculated with SimpsonsD
are on average close to 1
(mean = 0.82, SD = 0.07), which corresponds to a well-balanced distribution of social
actor categories in each outlet. This seems to be at odds with the aggregate actor distri-
bution displayed in Figure 2, pointing to an over-representation of national politicians in
the news sample. However, the result is mostly driven by the evenness of the distribution
of the other actor categories. If we run a robustness check by excluding national politicians
from the analysis, the average SimpsonsD
score is even closer to 1 (mean = 0.92, SD =
0.03). Moving the attention to the viewpoints, newspapers present a rather limited
average of 1.36 categories per article, if we exclude those with no viewpoints (SD = 0.11).
Nonetheless, as observed for actor diversity, D
viewpoint diversity scores are close to 1,
which means that the distribution of the four types of viewpoints is well balanced for
each newspaper over the period (mean = 0.89, SD = 0.08). To sum up, these ndings
support the rst broad assumption of this paper: measurements of content diversity at
different levels yield different results, and provide a different evaluation of content diver-
sity. Nevertheless, we also nd a signicant positive correlation between the scores of
actor diversity at the article level and D
scores for actor diversity at the outlet level (r=
0.592, N= 22, p= 0.004), and a weaker correlation between the two levels of viewpoint
diversity scores (r= 0.473, N= 22, p= 0.026), which suggest a moderate positive relationship
between measurements of content diversity at the article and at the newspaper level. Put
differently, newspapers that cover immigration in a more diverse manner within their
articles also tend to score higher in their coverage as a whole.
Another suggestion that diversity measurements at the article and newspaper level
might be related to each other is given by Table 1, which displays the variation of actor and
viewpoint diversity according to different factors. In most of the cases, although differences
are minimal, we detect similar effects for outlet- and article-based scores. At the micro-level,
ANOVA tests show that longer articles give signicantly more space to different actors and
viewpoints (F(3, 2131) = 92.574, p= 0.000 and F(3, 1801) = 12.743, p= 0.000, respectively).
Likewise, newspapers with a majority of longer articles present higher D
scores for actor
diversity and viewpoint diversity, as compared to those with a majority of shorter articles,
but independent t-tests show that this difference is signicant just for actor diversity (t(20)
= 3.357, p= 0.003). Concerning the inuence of the type of article, special reports present a
signicantly broader range of actors and viewpoints than news reports, and the latter score
is signicantly higher than opinionated news types (F(5, 2113) = 38.005, p= 0.000 and F(5,
1788) = 5.116, p= 0.000, ANOVA tests, respectively). Similarly, newspapers in which special
reports are predominant present a more balanced distribution of actor and viewpoints
Mean of actor and viewpoint diversity (calculated at the article and newspaper level) per newspapersand articlescharacteristics, including cross-country
Actor diversity Viewpoint diversity
Average actor categories
per article
Average viewpoint
categories per article
Average D
Length Very short (N= 590) 1.38 0.77 1.28 0.86
Short (N= 840) 1.68 1.33
Medium (N= 496) 1.87 0.86 1.36 0.91
Long (N= 564) 2.37 1.51
Type News reports (N= 1698) 1.80 1.33
Opinionated news types (N= 523) 1.52 0.80 1.42 0.87
Special reports (N= 245) 2.57 0.83 1.51 0.89
Circulation share Local (N= 731) 1.82 0.78 1.39 0.93
National (N= 1759) 1.84 0.83 1.36 0.86
Audiences cultural preferences Popular (N= 721) 1.63 0.78 1.34 0.88
Elite (N= 1769) 1.90 0.85 1.38 0.90
Countries Belgium (N= 642) 1.81 0.87 1.31 0.89
Germany (N= 484) 2.06 0.85 1.40 0.89
Italy (N= 822) 1.68 0.75 1.39 0.83
United Kingdom (N= 542) 1.87 0.82 1.40 0.93
Note: Total articles N= 2490.
categories than those with more opinionated article types. By contrast, we notice that opi-
nionated articles feature more viewpoint categories than news reports. However, for D
scores, neither of these differences are statistically signicant ( p> 0.10).
Focusing on the determinants at the meso-level, Table 1 shows similar effects for
both measurements of content diversity. National newspapers score slightly higher than
local outlets in actor diversity. The results of independent t-tests indicate that this differ-
ence is signicant for D
values of actor diversity (t(20) = 2.113, p= 0.047), but not for
measurements at the article level (p> 0.10). Local newspapers perform better than national
ones in viewpoint diversity, but the differences are not signicant for either type of
measurement (p> 0.10). On top of it, the difference between elite and popular newspapers
is statistically signicant for actor diversity (for article-level measurements, t(1428) = 5.422,
p= 0.000, for D
scores, t(20) = 2.541, p= 0.019), and it is larger than the difference in view-
point diversity, which is nonetheless not signicant (p> 0.10). Finally, regarding the macro-
level, Table 1 shows that, for both measurements, Italian newspapers display the lowest
levels of actor diversity, while UK outlets present the highest extent of viewpoint diversity.
As demonstrated by ANOVA tests, inter-country differences are statistically signicant for
actor diversity (both for values calculated at the article level, F(3, 1805) = 2.494, p= 0.000,
and for D
scores, F(3, 18) = 4.265, p= 0.019), but not for viewpoint diversity (article level,
p> 0.05, D
values, p> 0.10).
The Determinants of Content Diversity
We now move to a multivariate test of the determinants of actor and viewpoint diver-
sity measured at the article level to identify the original inuence of single factors while
controlling for others. Model 1a (Table 2) shows that the articles length is signicantly, posi-
tively related to actor diversity (p< 0.01). The inuence of articlestype on actor diversity is
Results of the multilevel regression model on actor diversity
Actor diversity, b(SE) Viewpoint diversity, b(SE)
Model 1a Model 1b Model 2a Model 2b
National newspaper 0.006 (0.04) 0.045 (0.04) 0.032 (0.05) 0.022 (0.05)
Elite newspaper 0.004 (0.04) 0.197 (0.04)* 0.011 (0.05) 0.035 (0.05)
Length of article (Ref. = Very short)
Short 0.195 (0.05)** 0.058 (0.06)
Medium 0.358 (0.06)** 0.0142 (0.07)*
Long 0.625 (0.06)** 0.253 (0.08)**
Article type (Ref. = News report)
Special report 0.140 (0.05)** 0.051 (0.07)
Opinionated article 0.301 (0.05)** 0.033 (0.05)
Country (Ref. = Belgium)
Germany 0.087 (0.06) 0.123 (0.06)* 0.050 (0.07) 0.039 (0.07)
Italy 0.165 (0.05)** 0.059 (0.05) 0.182 (0.07)** 0.052 (0.05)
United Kingdom 0.074 (0.05) 0.051 (0.05) 0.091 (0.06) 0.069 (0.06)
Constant 0.248 (0.06) 0.479 (0.05) 0.122 (0.08) 0.266 (0.06)
Note: Total articles N= 2490.
*p< 0.05, **p< 0.01.
in line with our expectations, in that special reports have a signicantly higher level of actor
diversity compared to news reports (p< 0.01), whereas opinionated article types score sig-
nicantly lower than news reports in actor diversity (p< 0.01). Model 1b shows that the elite
character of a newspaper has a signicant positive impact on actor diversity (p< 0.05) when
not controlling for articlescharacteristics. Moving the focus on the determinants of view-
point diversity, Model 2a shows that long articles, and to a lesser extent, medium articles
correspond to a signicantly broader range of viewpoints expressed in the article (p<
0.01 and p< 0.05, respectively), while short articles do not present signicantly higher view-
point diversity levels than very short articles (p> 0.10).
Moving to a test of the determinants of content diversity calculated with Simpsons
, the results of a linear regression show that the articleslength has a signicant positive
effect on actor diversity (β= 0.66, p= 0.005), while the effect of articlestype is not signi-
cant (p= 0.550). However, neither articleslength, nor the type have a signicant effect on
viewpoint diversity (p= 0.240 and p= 0.908, respectively). Besides this, we nd signs that
newspaperscharacteristics matter in shaping actor diversity. Elite newspapers present sig-
nicantly higher actor diversity than popular outlets (β= 0.44, p= 0.026), and the effect
stemming from the size of a newspaper on actor diversity is close to the signicance
level (β= 0.36, p= 0.061). Nevertheless, there is no signicant difference between national
and local newspapers in viewpoint diversity (p= 0.105), nor is there a signicant effect
related to the audiences cultural preferences (p= 0.434).
To sum up, at the micro-level, length matters in shaping actor diversity (both calcu-
lated at the article and newspaper level), therefore giving full support to H1a. However,
length signicantly enhances viewpoint diversity (article-based measurement) just in the
case of large articles, and it is not signicant for the newspaper-based viewpoint diversity
measurement. Hence, we must reject H1b. The type of article matters in determining actor
diversity measured at the article level, but it appears not to be inuential in shaping actor
diversity at the newspaper level. Also, the articles type does not have any impact on view-
point diversity, which leads us to reject H2. Moving to the inuences at the meso-level, the
results show that the size of a newspaper, gauged by looking at its national/local geo-
graphical scope, matters in enhancing actor diversity measured at the newspaper level,
but it is not signicant for article-based scores. We therefore reject H3. Still, in line with
H4a, we show that the orientation of newspapers towards a more highbrow audience
matters in enhancing actor diversity, both for its article- and newspaper-based measure-
ment. The elite/popular distinction, nonetheless, does not predict variation in viewpoint
diversity, thus H4b must be rejected. In general, viewpoint diversity seems harder to
explain than actor diversity.
Finally, moving to the analysis of inter-country differences, it is worth noting that
immigration news in each country in the sample is mostly domestic (more than 60 per
cent of total news items in Belgium and Italy deal with domestic immigration issues,
more than 80 per cent of the articles in Germany and the United Kingdom). Hence, different
aspects of the broader theme of immigration are covered in each country of the sample. In
Belgium and Germany, immigration news mainly presents stories related to asylum seekers,
most of them coming from Afghanistan, whereas Italian newspapers focus on the entrance
of African migrants by sea through Lampedusa, as well as on their stay in detention centres.
By contrast, British outlets mainly cover stories of immigrant workers from Eastern Europe,
and they give more space to frauds involving immigrants (e.g. sham marriages). Nonethe-
less, we observe that accidents involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea can
garner international media attention. In particular, the shipwreck of a migrant boat in Lam-
pedusa in October 2013, causing the death of more than 300 immigrants, was widely
covered by newspapers in all four countries under study.
Moreover, our results give some interesting insights into inter-country differences in
terms of content diversity. When comparing articles of the same size, Table 2 shows that
Italian newspapers present signicantly higher levels of actor diversity (p< 0.01) and view-
point diversity (p< 0.01), whereas there are no signicant differences among the other
countries. A closer look to the Italian sample provides an indication that articles about Lam-
pedusa are the most diverse. In line with the idea of Cuttitta (2014), Lampedusa is a busy
gurative stagepopulated by the main actors with a stake in the immigration debate:
immigrants arriving in Lampedusa after a perilous sea cross, national and EU politicians,
who propose solutions to prevent the death of immigrants at sea, local politicians (like
the mayor of Lampedusa, a key gure in the news), military actors from the guardia costiera
(coastguard) in charge of saving the migrants, often assisted by non-governmental organ-
isations (e.g. the Red Cross). Very often, religious actorsincluding the Pope, who visited
Lampedusa in July 2013participate in the Italian mediated debate on Lampedusa,
adding up to actor diversity and increasing, together with the other actors, the reporting
of diverse viewpoints on immigration. Yet, the results show this potentialof Italian news-
papers to provide more content diversity remains somehow untapped: when length is not
held constant, Italian newspapers present the least diverse coverage of the issue, whereas
German outlets provide a signicantly higher level of actor diversity (p< 0.05). Besides sup-
porting the idea that the Italian style of reporting is less inclined to provide a diverse
content (Esser and Umbricht 2013), this result suggests that length might be a crucial
element through which journalists in Democratic-Corporatist countries can guarantee at
least the diversity of actors talking in the newsas is the case with German articles in
our study.
Conclusions and Discussion
By measuring actor and viewpoint diversity both at the article and at the newspaper
level, this study explores and tries to explain content diversity in immigration news in four
European countries (20132014). On the one hand, we have shown that the range of actors
and viewpoints represented in an article is very limited, with about half of the articles giving
voice to one type of actor and two-thirds presenting only one type of viewpoint. On the
other hand, the measurements of content diversity at the newspaper level yield a
picture of high actor and viewpoint diversity for the period under study, meaning that
over a longer period of time all social actors and viewpoints get at least some attention.
Hence, content diversity measurements at the article and the newspaper level yield differ-
ent results. Yet, as the ndings show, these measurements are weakly positively correlated.
Newspapers that have on average more diverse articles also score higher on content diver-
sity at the outlet level. But the correlation is far from perfect. This has probably to do with
the diverging strategies of newspapers. While some try to provide content diversity in a
single article, others provide this by spreading actors and viewpoints over multiple articles
over a longer period of time.
We also nd that both measurements vary according to the impact of different
factors in a similaryet not identicalway. In this sense, this paper sheds light on the con-
ditions under which the ideal of a marketplace of ideasin the news can be fostered. First
of all, the size of articles is a crucial factor in shaping content diversity, and particularly actor
diversity: longer articles provide more space to represent a broader range of actors and
viewpoints in the news, and they facilitate a more even distribution of social actor cat-
egories within the newspaper. Similarly, special reports, that provide a more in-depth
account of immigration, provide more space for the representation of different actors,
while the less objective nature of opinionated article types makes them less suitable to
enlarge the range of actors in the articles. These article features are clearly connected to
the different types of newspaper. Elite newspapers seem to cater to the omnivorous
tastes of their target audiences with the representation of more social actors in the
news, while popular outlets let a fewer categories talk. By contrast, the size of a newspaper,
based on its national or local geographical scope, seems to enhance levels of actor diversity
in the long termwhile it has no effect on the diversity of a single articlegoing against
the argument of Voakes et al. (1996) that smaller news organisations present more actor
diversity because they make extensive use of wire services, which are used to contact mul-
tiple sources.
These ndings seem to hold across countrieseven when testing separately for
each countryand suggest a more general pattern of how journalists report on immi-
gration in Western democracies. The differences in content diversity between the four
countries are minimal at best. This means that how journalists work and cover an issue
suchasimmigrationintheseWesternEuropean democracies is highly comparable and
driven by similar news values and news routines. There is some proof that geographic
proximity to the key locations where an issue is mainly unfolding (as in the case of Italy
and Lampedusa) might enhance content diversity. However, these results are sensitive
to one of the main limitations of this study, namely the sample size. Further research on
news content diversity should extend both the newspaper sample, in order to increase
the statistical power of the test on content diversity measurements at the newspaper
level, and the country sample, so that it can further investigate cross-country differences
in the levels of content diversity. Moreover, the analysis should ideally also include a
broader range of media types, such as television and online news, as they are for a
large part of the public important sources of information about immigration. A more
fundamental challenge for further research is the need for an empirical benchmark to
evaluate the diversity of news content. The normative ideal of diversity is not enough
to judge when a medium presents sufcient voices or viewpoints. Probably a more
in-depth study of news coverage of different media outlets can provide the necessary
To sum up, we conclude that at the level of a newspaper, across countries, there is an
overall good performance in terms of diversity of type of actors and viewpoints. However,
we have to think that they represent the distribution of actors and viewpoints in a news-
paper over a period of time. In this sense, there can be cumulative benets for a loyal news-
paper reader. But on a regular day, when on average one article on immigration is
published, the reader will just be confronted with a limited number of voices and view-
points. A closer look at the different voices that enter the news yield a somehow more
negative picture of the performance of media when covering immigration. Immigrants,
the main characters of immigration news, are mostly relegated to a secondary role as
silent victims. When reading an article, the odds that the reader will hear their voice is
low. Also, when viewpoints are expressed, they will mostly portray them as victims. This
means that immigrants face a double challenge: they have a hard time to enter the
news arena; and when they enter, they have to try to emancipate from their depiction as
helpless victims.
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
This work was supported by the University of Antwerp (Belgium) [grant number GOA
1. Negative and positive viewpoints derive from more ne-grained categories that were orig-
inally coded, namely Immigration/immigrants as a general threat,Immigration/immi-
grants as an economic threat,Immigration/immigrants as a cultural/moral/ethnic
demographic threat”—which were collapsed in the negative viewpoints category; and
Immigration/immigrants as a general opportunity,Immigration/immigrants as an econ-
omic opportunity,Immigration/immigrants as a cultural/moral/ethnic demographic
opportunity”—which were collapsed in the positive viewpoints category.
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Appendix A
Newspaper Samples Characteristics
Newspaper Country
Audiences cultural
De Morgen Belgium Elite (highbrow) National
de Standaard Belgium Elite (highbrow) National
De Tijd Belgium Elite (highbrow) National
Gazet van Antwerpen Belgium Popular (middlebrow) Local
Het Nieuwsblad Belgium Popular (middlebrow) National
Het Laatste Nieuws Belgium Popular (middlebrow) National
Die Welt Germany Elite (highbrow) National
Berliner Morgenpost Germany Elite (highbrow) Local
Der Tagesspiegel Germany Elite (highbrow) Local
Süddeutsche Zeitung Germany Elite (highbrow) National
Stuttgarter Nachrichten Germany Elite (highbrow) Local
La Repubblica Italy Elite (highbrow) National
Gazzetta di Modena Italy Popular (middlebrow) Local
Il Giornale Italy Popular (middlebrow) National
Il Messaggero Italy Elite (highbrow) National
Il Mattino Italy Elite (highbrow) Local
The Times United Kingdom Elite (highbrow) National
The Independent United Kingdom Elite (highbrow) National
The Sun United Kingdom Popular (lowbrow) National
Daily Mirror United Kingdom Popular (lowbrow) National
Manchester Evening
United Kingdom Popular (middlebrow) Local
London Evening
United Kingdom Popular (middlebrow) Local
Since Belgium has no national papers that cover the whole bilingual country, we label outlets that
cover the whole Flemish media landscape as national. These newspapers have higher interest for
federal issues, and they clearly have a broader scope compared to more local newspaperslike
Gazet van Antwerpenwhich are usually the newspapers of a region (province).
... Los artículos que no mencionaban específicamente el tono de la representación fueron excluidos de este análisis. El método más utilizado en los estudios del Reino Unido fue el análisis de contenido cuantitativo, que se aplicó en el 39% de los artículos revisados (Amores et al., 2019;Aydemir & Vliegenthart, 2018;Hughes, 2019;Kaleda, 2014;Koopmans, 2004;Langer & Gruber, 2021;Masini, 2019;Masini et al., 2018;Shan-Jan, 2019;Walter, 2019). Otros estudios utilizaron una combinación de métodos para responder a sus preguntas de investigación, como entrevistas semiestructuradas, grupos focales, análisis de redes sociales y encuestas panel (Balabanova, 2019;Froio & Ganesh, 2019;Hamlin, 2016;Scalvini, 2016;Wirz et al., 2018). ...
... Estudios comparativos que incluyeron al Reino Unido y a los Estados Unidos encontraron que los informes sobre refugiados se caracterizaban por la sospecha, la falta de simpatía y la uniformidad (Risam, 2018;Kaleda, 2014). Otros estudios han encontrado que la mayoría de los actores citados, directa o indirectamente, en los informes de los medios de comunicación heredados sobre refugiados eran autoridades estatales o actores a favor o en contra de los inmigrantes, pero no los propios inmigrantes (Masini, 2019;Masini et al., 2018). Los medios alternativos, por otro lado, generalmente, daban voz a los inmigrantes citando directamente a refugiados o inmigrantes (Kaleda, 2014). ...
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En las últimas décadas, se ha prestado una mayor atención académica a las interacciones entre la inmigración, la cobertura de los medios de comunicación, los tipos de encuadres y el aumento del populismo. Este trabajo revisa sistemáticamente un grupo de artículos revisados por pares cuya temática son las representaciones mediáticas de los inmigrantes y los refugiados en Brasil y el Reino Unido con el fin de identificar el tono de dichas representaciones y los métodos de investigación utilizados. Esta es la primera revisión bibliográfica sistemática que compara estudios sobre los medios de comunicación y la inmigración que incluye una muestra de países del sur y del norte global. Este trabajo utiliza las directrices de PRISMA para recopilar, mapear y sistematizar 47 artículos revisados por pares y publicados en las últimas dos décadas. Encontramos tres tipos de tonos en los medios de comunicación analizados en los estudios de ambos países, ordenados aquí de mayor a menor frecuencia: negativo, neutro y positivo. Los medios de comunicación infrarrepresentan a los principales actores y utilizan estereotipos y discursos que trazan una frontera entre nosotros/as y los/as otros/as. Este trabajo contribuye a nuestra comprensión de las diferencias entre los estudios realizados en el Reino Unido y Brasil, y reclama más estudios comparativos que incluyan países del sur y del norte global. También demuestra la existencia de patrones de representación similares en ambos países.
... Recent contributions to the theoretical angle of the moniker have proven useful (e.g. Joris et al., 2020;Masini et al., 2018), yet progress tends to stay cemented in an intricate web of similar yet distinct terms used interchangeably and a persistent lack of a commonly agreed and adopted framework. ...
... In this paper, we departed from the viewpoint that theoretical and empirical progress on the diversity of news within media landscapes has been highly limited within academia, notwithstanding recent valuable contributions (Joris et al., 2020;Loecherbach et al., 2020;Masini et al., 2018) which confirm the increased attention for news diversity research . We discussed the disarray in media markets, both globally and increasingly globalised, noting in particular the lack of a sustainable business model coupled with increased digitisation on both the news production and consumption side and diminishing trust levels in institutions and (legacy) media organisations. ...
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Several scholars and institutions have made attempts at defining and conceptualising news diversity, underlying its increasing relevance within and beyond academia. However, very few have operationalised it for a given media market , let alone in more than one simultaneously. In this paper, we critically assess existing theories and studies and present main shortcomings on the conceptual, methodological and empirical levels. We proceed by applying and testing two different frameworks and methods for assessing news diversity, co-developed by the authors separately from one another, to two different yet in many regards similar European media markets: those of Norway and Flan-ders (Belgium). In doing so, we seek to properly operationalise news diversity and expand the body of internationally comparative news-related research in times of fundamental change in the news industry, its production practices and markets. We highlight obstacles and best practices for future research.
... The Fisher's exact test demonstrates significant differences (p<.001) between Brazil and the UK in terms of these studies' use of mixed, quantitative, or qualitative methods. The most frequently used method in UK studies was quantitative content analysis, which was applied in 39% of the reviewed articles (Amores et al., 2019;Aydemir & Vliegenthart, 2018;Hughes, 2019;Kaleda, 2014;Koopmans, 2004;Langer & Gruber, 2021;Masini, 2019;Masini et al., 2018;Shan-Jan, 2019;Walter, 2019). ...
... Comparative studies that included the UK and the United States found that reporting on refugees were characterized by suspicion, lack of sympathy, and uniformization (Risam, 2018;Kaleda, 2014). Further studies have found that most of the actors quoted directly or indirectly in legacy media reports on refugees were state authorities or actors in favor of or against immigrants, but not the immigrants themselves (Masini, 2019;Masini et al., 2018). Alternative media, on the other hand, usually gave immigrants a voice by quoting refugees or immigrants directly (Kaleda, 2014). ...
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In recent decades, increased scholarly attention has been paid to the interactions between immigration, media coverage, framing, and the rise of populism. This paper draws on these interactions to systematically review peer-reviewed articles related to media representations of immigrants and refugees in Brazil and the United Kingdom (UK). The objective was to identify the tone used in such representations and the research methods applied in the articles. This is the first systematic literature review that compares studies on media and immigration including both Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) and non-WEIRD countries. This paper uses Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) to collect, map, and systematize 47 peer-reviewed articles published in the past two decades. The findings show that, in the studies we analyzed, the tone of representation of refugees in the media in both countries is negative. Mass media underrepresent the main actors and use stereotypes and discourses of otherization. This paper contributes to our understanding of the differences between studies, including those conducted in the UK and Brazil, and calls for more comparative studies that include countries from the global south and global north. It also demonstrates the standardization of frames and tone of representation on immigration in both countries, suggesting similar patterns across different countries. Resumen En las últimas décadas, se ha prestado una mayor atención académica a las interacciones entre la inmigración, la cobertura de los medios de comunicación, los tipos de encuadres y el aumento del populismo. Este trabajo revisa sistemáticamente un grupo de artículos revisados por pares cuya temática son las representaciones mediáticas de los inmigrantes y los refugiados en Brasil y el Reino Unido con el fin de identificar el tono de dichas representaciones y los métodos de investigación utilizados. Esta es la primera revisión bibliográfica sistemática que compara estudios sobre los medios de comunicación y la inmigración que incluye una muestra de países del sur y del norte global. Este trabajo utiliza las directrices de PRISMA para recopilar, mapear y sistematizar 47 artículos revisados por pares y publicados en las últimas dos décadas. Encontramos tres tipos de tonos en los medios de comunicación analizados en los estudios de ambos países, ordenados aquí de mayor a menor frecuencia: negativo, neutro y positivo. Los medios de comunicación infrarrepresentan a los principales actores y utilizan estereotipos y discursos que trazan una frontera entre nosotros/as y los/as otros/as. Este trabajo contribuye a nuestra comprensión de las diferencias entre los estudios realizados en el Reino Unido y Brasil, y reclama más estudios comparativos que incluyan países del sur y del norte global. También demuestra la existencia de patrones de representación similares en ambos países.
... Voltmer, 2000). Finally, viewpoint diversity can be operationalized via frames (Baden and Springer, 2017;Masini et al., 2017). However, although frames are relatively easy to determine using content-analytic approaches, survey-based measurement is much more difficult (i.e. ...
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The current study examines the role of affective and cognitive attitude extremity on perceived exposure to diverse political viewpoints and investigates the possibility of a “primacy of affect.” Based on a multi-level analysis of panel survey data, we show that people with extreme attitudes toward immigrants experience less viewpoint diversity and that this tendency is especially pronounced for affective attitude extremity. However, even those holding extreme attitudes do not find themselves in issue-specific echo chambers, that is, they still encounter relatively diverse sets of viewpoints.
... By contrast, Eastern Europeans are associated with economic burden and economic threats (Balch and Balabanova, 2016). The diversity of actors was the highest in elite newspapers (Masini et al., 2018). Such distinctions applied to ethnic or religious groups in the British newspapers also vary across media genres (Blinder and Allen, 2016). ...
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This paper looks at how the British media addressed the issue of migration in Europe between 2015 and 2018, four years when the topic was high on news and political agendas, due to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ and the UK’s debate on Britain’s relationship with the European Union and free movement of people. Based on a sample of 400 articles from two national newspapers, The Guardian and The Times, the paper compares the content and discourse between the left-wing and right-wing press. The paper argues that media representations turn refugees into ‘migrants’ and portray them as either a threat to the national economy and security or as passive victims of distant circumstances. The study historicizes these media narratives and reveals that the discourse they employ advances the racialised mix of knowledge and historical amnesia and reproduces the age-old hierarchies of the colonial system which divided humans into superior and inferior species. Migrant voice is largely missing from the coverage. History, that could explain the causes of ‘migration’, the distant conflicts and Britain’s role in them, is also nowhere to be found. The paper considers the exclusion of history and migrant voices from stories told to the British audience and reflects on their domestic and international implications.
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News performance is a key concept in communication science with a long research tradition. Research on news performance is rooted in normative ideas of the public sphere and expectations about the benefits of the news media for individuals and society. Widely studied constructs include diversity, hard and soft news, analytical depth, and deliberation.
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Alternative outlets can differ in their degree of partisanship, activism, and their opposition to a perceived news “mainstream.” We expect this could lead to diverging contributions to overall news diversity. We assess how mainstream-like, partisan and activist media differ from mainstream reporting concerning migration and refugee policy in Germany. We combine a manual analysis of speaker diversity in 12 mainstream and alternative outlets (N = 1,172 articles) with a computational topic model (N = 34,819 articles) covering 30 outlets to assess topic diversity. Interestingly, we find no significant differences between mainstream and alternative outlets regarding overall speaker diversity. But our data show differences in which parties get cited, and whether outlets focus on experts, civil society speakers, or migrants themselves. While mainstream media offer higher overall topic diversity, alternative media split along the lines of agenda accommodation and more independent agendas of partisan and activist media.
Conference Paper
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Research in the area of human information interaction (HII) typically represents viewpoints on debated topics in a binary fashion, as either against or in favor of a given topic (e.g., the feminist movement). This simple taxonomy, however, greatly reduces the latent richness of viewpoints and thereby limits the potential of research and practical applications in this field. Work in the communication sciences has already demonstrated that viewpoints can be represented in much more comprehensive ways, which could enable a deeper understanding of users’ interactions with debated topics online. For instance, a viewpoint's stance usually has a degree of strength (e.g., mild or strong), and, even if two viewpoints support or oppose something to the same degree, they may use different logics of evaluation (i.e., underlying reasons). In this paper, we draw from communication science practice to propose a novel, two-dimensional way of representing viewpoints that incorporates a viewpoint's stance degree as well as its logic of evaluation. We show in a case study of tweets on debated topics how our proposed viewpoint label can be obtained via crowdsourcing with acceptable reliability. By analyzing the resulting data set and conducting a user study, we further show that the two-dimensional viewpoint representation we propose allows for more meaningful analyses and diversification interventions compared to current approaches. Finally, we discuss what this novel viewpoint label implies for HII research and how obtaining it may be made cheaper in the future.
This article investigates how all the main quality and tabloid newspapers and the television newscasts of the main broadcasters in Czechia and Slova-kia framed immigrants, what the tone of the employed frames was, and who the main framing actors were before and during the EU refugee crisis (2013-2016). Using quantitative content analysis (N = 7,910), we show that security and cultural frames are most commonly employed while the victimization frame is much less common. Whereas tabloids use the security and cultural frames more often, the victimization, economic and administrative frames are more often invoked in quality media. We also show that the framing of immigrants is predominantly negative, and that the security and cultural are the most negatively valenced frames. Finally, we document a dominance of political actors and the practical invisibility of immigrants and refugees in the media coverage.
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This book offers a comprehensive portrait of French and American journalists in action as they grapple with how to report and comment on one of the most important issues of our era. Drawing on interviews with leading journalists and analyses of an extensive sample of newspaper and television coverage since the early 1970s, Rodney Benson shows how the immigration debate has become increasingly focused on the dramatic, emotion-laden frames of humanitarianism and public order. Yet even in an era of global hypercommercialism, Benson also finds enduring French-American differences related to the distinctive societal positions, professional logics, and internal structures of their journalistic fields. In both countries, less commercialized media tend to offer the most in-depth, multi-perspective, and critical news. Benson challenges classic liberalism's assumptions about state intervention's chilling effects on the press, suggests costs as well as benefits to the current vogue in personalized narrative news, and calls attention to journalistic practices that can help empower civil society. This book offers new theories and methods for sociologists and media scholars and fresh insights for journalists, policy makers, and concerned citizens.
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Journalistic news coverage plays an essential role for providing an audience with a diverse, multifaceted perspective upon public affairs. However, in the scholarly debate, most measures of viewpoint diversity do not distinguish between statements raising commensurable interpretations, and contributions that construct different meaning in a consequential sense. We provide an operationalization of viewpoint diversity that builds upon a tradition of identifying distinct interpretations through framing analysis. Going beyond frame diversity, we then distinguish between equivalent, complementary and competing, diverse interpretations: we consider as commensurable those frames that derive from the same ‘interpretative repertoire’, a notion borrowed from discourse studies. We propose a strategy for operationalization and the measurement of viewpoint diversity. Our focus on meaningfully different interpretations contributes to advancing research into journalism, political opinion formation, audience elaboration, and other important fields of study.
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The island of Lampedusa is known as an EU border hotspot. Its high degree of 'borderness', though, is less the result of its geographical location than the product of a 'borderization' process carried out through specific policies, practices and discourses. The introduction explains what Lampedusa's 'borderness' consists in: irregular landings and the changed anthropic and human landscape have turned the island into an ideal observatory for all major issues of the current debate on migration-related border controls. The first section analyses the main factors of the 'borderization' process. Specific political choices (establishing a detention centre, concentrating migrants, dispatching border guards, employing patrol boats, involving humanitarian workers etc.) suggest that borders are the result of the placing and interaction of 'spatial bodies', as well as of legislative measures and international relations. The paper also regards Italian immigration control policies as a 'political spectacle', and Lampedusa as the theatre of the 'border play'. The second section therefore analyses the two narratives (the securitarian one of the 'tough' and the humanitarian one of the 'humane' border) prevailing in five different acts of the play, and shows that both are strictly connected and serve the same purpose of governing and managing human mobility.
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Determining the speakers and arguments that dominate the news has long been a core task of media sociology. Yet systematic evidence linking the two—who says what or nothing at all—is lacking in news analysis, especially on the important issue of immigration. In this article, we analyze quoted sources and issue frames in U.S., French, and Norwegian news coverage of unauthorized immigration during 2011 and 2012. Supporting claims of transnational media homogenization, we find most quotes are “frameless,” that is, do not contain any substantial arguments addressing the problems, causes, or solutions associated with immigration. Of those quotes that do offer frames, problem frames are far more common than causes and solutions. Across nations and media types, government sources dominate the news, focusing on problems for society, while pro-immigration associations and unaffiliated individuals help account for overall greater attention to problems for immigrants. On the other hand, providing limited support for structural variation, less narrative-driven French media featured fewer frameless quotes and also tended to offer more cause and solution frames than U.S. or Norwegian media; dominant frames varied notably across nations; and elite right newspapers were more likely to quote anti-immigration speakers and emphasize problems for society than other types of outlets. We also find that the mediated immigration “debate” is often only a series of opposed monologues; even ideologically diverse groups such as unaffiliated citizens tend to be linked to a small range of frames, suggesting that “who says what” is not a reflection of society, but rather the outcome of journalistic practices and sources’ rhetorical tactics.
Building on a survey of media institutions in eighteen West European and North American democracies, Hallin and Mancini identify the principal dimensions of variation in media systems and the political variables which have shaped their evolution. They go on to identify three major models of media system development (the Polarized Pluralist, Democratic Corporatist and Liberal models) to explain why the media have played a different role in politics in each of these systems, and to explore the forces of change that are currently transforming them. It provides a key theoretical statement about the relation between media and political systems, a key statement about the methodology of comparative analysis in political communication and a clear overview of the variety of media institutions that have developed in the West, understood within their political and historical context.
This quantitative international comparative content analysis of news coverage on irregular migration and Lampedusa covering the period 2009-2013 addresses the differences in quantity and content elements of newspaper articles on this subject in five countries: Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium (Flanders), Germany and the UK (N=522). The main research question of this study addresses how news media coverage of irregular migration and Lampedusa differs in terms of issue attention, different voices, level of domestication, problem definitions, causal attributions and solutions. Results show that news coverage is quite extensive around Europe, but largely concentrated around certain peak periods of attention, especially in 2011. While most of this coverage is about the humanitarian drama unfolding in the Mediterranean, we argue that extensive and continuous coverage of the issue also opens up possibilities (or even needs) for news media to cover a broader variety of different content elements. Our results demonstrate that links between irregular migration arrivals to Lampedusa and the home country of the newspapers in our sample are limited and although the EU is barely mentioned as either a part or a cause of the problem, it was often looked to for solutions.
For ten years, Herbert J. Gans spent considerable time in four major television and magazine newsrooms, observing and talking to the journalists who choose the national news stories that inform America about itself. Writing during the golden age of journalism, Gans included such headline events as the War on Poverty, the Vietnam War and the protests against it, urban ghetto disorders, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and Watergate. He was interested in the values, professional standards, and the external pressures that shaped journalists' judgments. Deciding What's News has become a classic. A new preface outlines the major changes that have taken place in the news media since Gans first wrote the book, but it also suggests that the basics of news judgment and the structures of news organizations have changed little. Gans's book is still the most comprehensive sociological account of some of the country's most prominent national news media. The book received the 1979 Theatre Library Association Award and the 1980 Book Award of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. This is the first work to be published under the Medill School of Journalism's "Visions of the American Press" imprint, a new journalism history series featuring both original volumes and reprints of important classics.