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Comparing Election News Coverage in Europe: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of the Approach

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The principal aim of this study is to further research on elections and news media coverage by identifying contemporary characteristics and tendencies across different European countries. This introductory chapter contextualizes the rationale and methodological approach for the study of election campaign coverage in six European countries (Croatia, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, and Spain). The theoretical framework situates the analysis in terms of the general trends identified in extant literature as well as broader contexts of European-wide politics such as populism, the Euro Crisis, and the migration crisis. It is these European contexts that informed the selection of countries for comparative analysis, which include four of these countries most deeply affected by the Euro Crisis (Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain) and two countries in which populism and the issue of immigration are to the fore (Croatia and Poland).

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Zusammenfassung Media are by far the voters’ most important source of information about elections and election campaigns. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that the analysis of election (campaign) coverage is a long-standing tradition in communication science. Central questions in the analysis of media reporting on elections and campaigns address, for example, the amount and structure of coverage relating to topics, key actors and their evaluations.
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Chapter
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List of Tables List of Figures Preface Acknowledgements The Presidentialization Debate Presidentialization of Presentation and Impact Explaining Leader Effects Media and Leader Effects Scale and Durability of Leader Effects Conclusion Index
Chapter
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Book
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Chapter
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As a key feature of the contemporary political landscape, populism stands as one of the most contentious concepts in political science. This article presents a critique of dominant conceptions of populism – as ideology, logic, discourse and strategy/organisation – and introduces the category of ‘political style’ as a new compelling way of thinking about the phenomenon. We argue that this new category captures an important dimension of contemporary populism that is missed by rival approaches. In doing so, we put forward an inductive model of populism as a political style and contextualise it within the increasingly stylised and mediatised milieu of contemporary politics by focusing on its performative features. We conclude by considering how this concept allows us to understand how populism appears across the political spectrum, how it translates into the political mainstream and its implications for democratic politics.
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There has been a quiet revolution in news reporting during the past few decades. The traditional descriptive style of reporting has given way to an interpretive style that empowers journalists by giving them more control over content. One consequence is a form of news coverage that focuses on the negative aspects of politics. This development contributes to the public's dissatisfaction with its political leaders and institutions and makes it more difficult for officials to govern effectively. The news media's version of reality is exceedingly narrow and cannot be justified by either the journalists' knowledge of political relationships or their position in the political system. The problem would be lessened by a model of reporting that subordinates the voice of the journalist and aims for a more balanced portrayal of the workings of the political system.
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In this paper I apply the definition of populism that I laid out in P. Taggart, Populism (Buckingham: Open University Press, 2000) and argue that recent developments in Europe provide a fertile ground for the emergence of populism. Europe is taken to in its widest sense to include the European Union as well as the ‘wider Europe’. The argument of the paper is that populism will emerge (and has already appeared) in many different forms and will appear as a series of fractured instances. Combined with the self‐limiting effects of populism this means that populism will not amount to a wider ‘European’ force but its appearance does highlight dilemmas of representative politics in Europe.
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In 1992, the Israeli parliament enacted the new Basic Law: The Government, which provides Israel with the distinction of being the only country to have direct popular election of its Prime Minister (beginning with the next election, scheduled for mid-1996). This new law not only effectively alters the electoral system, but also changes the entire political system in Israel, replacing its pure parliamentary system with a new, hybrid and unique regime type. This article describes the circumstances that brought about the recent reforms in Israel, delineates the electoral changes which were adopted, and analyzes whether Israel has switched from a parliamentary to a presidential political system.
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Recent controversy over negative television campaign commercials has focused on their effects on voters. Proponents of the demobilization hypothesis claim that negative ads undermine political efficacy and depress voter turnout. Others have suggested a stimulation hypothesis, arguing that such advertising may have an invigorating effect on the electorate. Empirical tests of competing claims demand improved measures of real voters' exposure to real ads in the context of real campaigns. We develop a new approach to estimating exposure outside the lab that combines respondent viewing behavior and the strategic decisions of campaigns. Using this combined measure, we find no evidence that exposure to negative advertising depresses turnout. Instead exposure to negative ads appears to increase the likelihood of voting. We find this effect when we estimate exposure with our new measure, as well as when we use a very different perceptual measure of ad tone.
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There are vast literatures on the ways in which media content differs from reality, but we thus far have a rather weak sense for how exactly the representation of various topics in media differs from the distribution of information in the real world. Drawing on the gatekeeping literature, and utilizing a new automated content-analytic procedure, this article portrays both media content and “reality” as distributions of information. Measuring these allows us to identify the mechanism by which the distribution of information in the real world is transformed into the distribution of information in media; we can identify the gatekeeping function. Reporting on unemployment serves as a test case. Subsequent analyses focus on inflation and interest rates and on differences across Democratic and Republican presidencies. Results are discussed as they relate to negativity, to economic news, and to the broader study of distributions of information in political communication and politics.
Article
The aim of this study is to give some systematic insights into how Irish media tend to report an election campaign. The main focus will be on their attitudes toward and treatment of the competing parties and candidates. Content analysis data from television newscasts and campaign stories in four of the largest newspapers is used to investigate three different forms of media bias: coverage bias, agenda bias, and statement bias. We find that Irish media tend to grant disproportionate amounts of coverage to the government parties, Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats; the more prominent the coverage, the less proportionate it becomes. The extent to which media take the freedom to ‘distort’ party agendas in their reporting appears to depend on party size, campaign strategy and the acquired status and acceptance of a party amongst the political and media establishment. Most notable, however, is the predominantly negative attitude of all Irish print media towards political actors. Instead of a polarised partisan press, as for example in the UK, in Ireland we seem to be faced with a rather homogenous anti‐politics bias.
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In a study of Swedish news media, 1912-84, a distinction is made between news values, regarded as more or less permanent, and changing news ideologies, conceived as an outflow of other ideologies. In statements concerning the broadcasting media three periods of different news ideologies are identified. They all seem to have had a strong impact both on the selection of news and on the selection of perspectives applied in the news.
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This article looks at the personalization of politics, starting with a careful examination of the evidence that leaders are becoming more important. The role of electronic media in personalizing politics and politicians is examined, along with institutions and political leadership. The concept 'political priming' is introduced, which is the process where leaders are evaluated by voters based on the leader's performance on issues considered important to the voters. The consequences of the personalization of politics and the decline of electoral participation and parties are discussed in the last portion of the article.
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This article proposes integrating the insights generated by framing, priming, and agenda-setting research through a systematic effort to conceptualize and understand their larger implications for political power and democracy. The organizing concept is bias, that curiously undertheorized staple of public discourse about the media. After showing how agenda setting, framing and priming fit together as tools of power, the article connects them to explicit definitions of news slant and the related but distinct phenomenon of bias. The article suggests improved measures of slant and bias. Properly defined and measured, slant and bias provide insight into how the media influence the distribution of power: who gets what, when, and how. Content analysis should be informed by explicit theory linking patterns of framing in the media text to predictable priming and agenda-setting effects on audiences. When unmoored by such underlying theory, measures and conclusions of media bias are suspect.
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Reports on the state of the horserace and analysis of the candidates’ strategies are pervasive themes in news coverage of campaigns. Various explanations have been suggested for the dominance of strategy-oriented news over hard news. The most frequently identified factors are the length of the modern campaign, the built-in conflict between journalists and campaign operatives, and the pressures of the marketplace. This article provides a test of the market hypothesis. Given access to a wide variety of news reports about the presidential campaign during the weeks immediately preceding the 2000 election, we find that voters were drawn to reports on the horserace and strategy. Strategy reports proved especially popular among readers with higher levels of political engagement. In closing, we consider what journalists might do to make stories about the issues more relevant and marketable.
Article
The direct PM election model features as an ‘empty cell’ in typologies of political regimes. A more fine grained analysis of the model shows that it depends on the choices made on three institutional parameters (object of the election, electoral system, legislative/executive relationship) whether it constitutes a distinct regime type. A comparison of nine examples confirms that the label of a direct PM election covers a wide array of institutional designs. A direct PM election may involve a full-fledged presidentialisation, but it may also imply a marginal adaptation of the parliamentary system. The model can only be considered as an intermediate regime type when it combines the exclusive electoral origin of the executive with a parliamentary legislative/executive relationship.