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Why context, relevance and repetition matter in news reporting: Interpreting the UK's political information environment

Cushion, Stephen, Lewis, Justin and Kilby, Allaina 2017. Why context, relevance and repetition matter in news reporting: Interpreting the UK's political information environment. Journalism 10.1177/1464884917746560

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This study develops a multi-method approach to analysing political information environments, exploring how media and political systems help shape people’s understanding of news. In doing so, we ask a question fundamental to democratic citizenship: how well do news media communicate political responsibility and policy differences across political systems? Our study examines the United Kingdom’s political information environment, where significant power is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with different political parties in control. Drawing on a content analysis of 17,765 news items, a representative survey of 3272 respondents and 15 semi-structured interviews, we examine the dominant information sources about UK politics by longitudinally tracing coverage of devolved issues from 2007 to 2016, and gauging how well it was understood by television news viewers. Our results suggest that while BBC news is more sensitive to communicating the devolved relevance of news than more commercial outlets, there remains a democratic deficit in the supply of political information and audience understanding of where power and responsibility lies. If news coverage more regularly communicated the relevance and context of devolved issues, we argue it could open up democratic opportunities for citizens to consider a wider range of policy options debated in all four political institutions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies
Publisher: Sage
ISSN: 1464-8849
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2018 13:27

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