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Seeing the Whole Picture. Towards a Multi-perspective Approach to News Content Diversity based on Liberal and Deliberative Models of Democracy


Magin, Melanie; Stark, Birgit; Jandura, Olaf; Udris, Linards; Riedl, Andreas; Klein, Miriam; Eisenegger, Mark; Kösters, Raphael; Hofstetter Furrer, Brigitte (2023). Seeing the Whole Picture. Towards a Multi-perspective Approach to News Content Diversity based on Liberal and Deliberative Models of Democracy. Journalism Studies, 24(5):669-696.

Abstract

By providing diverse news content, news media are key for a well-functioning public sphere. However, agreement on how to measure news content diversity is lacking. Research often refers to democratic theory as normative reference point, but different models of democracy understand news content diversity differently. Our study makes a unique, innovative contribution to this field: (1) We develop a methodological framework for measuring news content diversity, that is a set of comprehensive measuring instruments that derive different operationalizations of topic and actor diversity each from liberal and deliberative democratic theories. (2) Considering that a good public discourse requires more than diversity, we analyze news content diversity in the context of four other journalistic standards: neutrality, rationality, discursivity, and civility. (3) We prove the applicability of our measuring instruments by means of a standardized content analysis of six German news media as a case study. The different quality profiles of these outlets our analysis reveals are explained by their different functions in the media system. Our study shows how important a multi-perspectival normative approach to news content diversity is, both empirically and theoretically. Future studies on news content diversity should make their normative foundations transparent and derive their indicators purposefully therefrom.

Abstract

By providing diverse news content, news media are key for a well-functioning public sphere. However, agreement on how to measure news content diversity is lacking. Research often refers to democratic theory as normative reference point, but different models of democracy understand news content diversity differently. Our study makes a unique, innovative contribution to this field: (1) We develop a methodological framework for measuring news content diversity, that is a set of comprehensive measuring instruments that derive different operationalizations of topic and actor diversity each from liberal and deliberative democratic theories. (2) Considering that a good public discourse requires more than diversity, we analyze news content diversity in the context of four other journalistic standards: neutrality, rationality, discursivity, and civility. (3) We prove the applicability of our measuring instruments by means of a standardized content analysis of six German news media as a case study. The different quality profiles of these outlets our analysis reveals are explained by their different functions in the media system. Our study shows how important a multi-perspectival normative approach to news content diversity is, both empirically and theoretically. Future studies on news content diversity should make their normative foundations transparent and derive their indicators purposefully therefrom.

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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
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute for Research on the Public Sphere and Society
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Uncontrolled Keywords:Communication
Language:English
Date:6 April 2023
Deposited On:09 May 2023 10:23
Last Modified:29 Apr 2024 01:37
Publisher:Routledge
ISSN:1461-670X
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/1461670x.2023.2178248
Project Information:
  • : FunderAustrian Science Fund
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID170784
  • : Project TitleMedia performance and democracy: An international comparison of Germany, Austria and Switzerland
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)