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Publication

It's a matter of timing. How the timing of politicians' information subsidies affects what becomes news

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

From all information subsidies that politicians send out on a given day, only a few make it into the news media. The literature on news selection tries to understand which factors enhance the chance that a message gets covered. This paper contributes to that literature by studying one specific factor: the timing of the dissemination of the message. Between July 2017 and July 2018 we gathered all press releases, press conferences, and tweets of more than 200 Belgian politicians. During the same period, we collected all articles of 15 print and online news media. Via a combination of automated and manual content analysis, we measured to what extent politicians' information subsidies were covered in the news and investigate whether success can be explained by their timing. The results show that timing matters, and that different information subsidies face different timing opportunities. Press releases and press conferences are most successful when they are disseminated at times when the journalistic demand for "new" information is high (e.g., in the absence of big events or during political recess). This sometimes works for Twitter as well, but tweets receive especially more coverage when they are published at times when journalists need additional viewpoints about existing stories (e.g., when they deal with an ongoing big event or when they are sent out in the middle of the day). All in all, this paper puts "timing" on the map as a non-negligible factor of the news selection process.
Journal: Political Communication
ISSN: 1058-4609
Volume: 99
Pages: 1 - 21
Publication year:2020