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The polarizing impact of news coverage on populist attitudes in the public: evidence from a panel study in four european democracies


Müller, Philipp; Schemer, Christian; Wettstein, Martin; Schulz, Anne; Wirz, Dominique; Engesser, Sven; Wirth, Werner (2017). The polarizing impact of news coverage on populist attitudes in the public: evidence from a panel study in four european democracies. Journal of Communication, 67(6):968-992.

Abstract

This study explores how news messages carrying parts of the populist ideology contribute to a polarization of public opinion about populism. It combines a content analysis of news coverage on two policy areas (N = 7,119 stories) with a two-wave panel survey (N = 2,338) in four European metropolitan regions (Berlin, Paris, London, and Zurich). In three regions, unopposed media messages with a populist stance have a conditional effect on populist attitudes that depends on prior convictions. A higher dose of exposure to populist news coverage enhances both prior agreement and disagreement with populism. Although the observed interaction patterns vary between regions, the general picture suggests that populist messages in the news foster polarization between public support and disapproval of populism.

Abstract

This study explores how news messages carrying parts of the populist ideology contribute to a polarization of public opinion about populism. It combines a content analysis of news coverage on two policy areas (N = 7,119 stories) with a two-wave panel survey (N = 2,338) in four European metropolitan regions (Berlin, Paris, London, and Zurich). In three regions, unopposed media messages with a populist stance have a conditional effect on populist attitudes that depends on prior convictions. A higher dose of exposure to populist news coverage enhances both prior agreement and disagreement with populism. Although the observed interaction patterns vary between regions, the general picture suggests that populist messages in the news foster polarization between public support and disapproval of populism.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Language:English
Date:31 October 2017
Deposited On:15 Jan 2018 12:27
Last Modified:18 Apr 2018 11:49
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0021-9916
Funders:SNF
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12337
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project TitleSNF

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