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The Voice of the People. Displays of Public Opinion in the News and Their Influence on Audiences.
One of the main functions of news media in democracies is representing public opinion. There are several ways in which journalists can do so: by covering (1) polls (2) vox pops (3) inferences about public opinion (4) protest or (5) social media references. Many studies focus on one of these public opinion displays. However, surprisingly, no research exists studying how these different displays are combined in the news. Gaining an understanding of how public opinion is presented in the news is important, as people look at the media to learn about the opinions of others. The core questions of this project are consequently: How is public opinion represented in news content and how does this influence citizens? To answer these questions I combine a content analysis comprising news from three countries (the US, UK & Belgium) with a series of experiments. The content analysis will focus on how frequent the different displays are and how they are combined in the news. Moreover, how journalists frame public opinion is also examined: do they present the public as a homogenous mass? This is important, as homogeneity is expected to play a role in the influence process of public opinion displays. In the second phase of the project, a series of cumulative experiments will be conducted to gain an understanding of how and when public opinion displays influence audiences' perceived public opinion and personal opinion and of the role of homogeneity in the process.
Date:1 Oct 2018 → Today
Disciplines:Other economics and business, Citizenship, immigration and political inequality, International and compartive politics, Multilevel governance, National politics, Political behaviour, Political organisations and institutions, Political theory and methodology, Public administration, Other political science, Communication sciences, Journalism and professional writing, Media studies, Other media and communications