This year I have contributed to three papers which will be presented in Puerto Rico:
“Exploring News Content Complexity Using Network Analysis” (with Carina Jacobi, Jakob-Moritz Eberl, and Stephan Schlögl) discusses how network analysis can be used to analyze the complexity of media coverage. By conceptualizing political coverage as a symbolic network representing a public sphere, we are able to adapt three useful indicators from network analysis to compare and evaluate the complexity of political news in different media outlets. Network density enables us to judge the general interconnectedness of the depicted debate, network centralization allows us to look at the focus on specific actors or issues, and network heterogeneity reflects the diversity within these actor and issue networks. Following a theoretical and methodological discussion of the applicability of these three indicators for evaluating news complexity, we demonstrate their usefulness in a case study comparing the political news coverage of tabloid and elite newspapers during a national election campaign.
“Issue Public Membership as a Mediating Factor in the Individual Agenda-Setting Process” (with Ramona Vonbon and Hajo Boomgaarden): This paper investigates the role of the individual media agenda and issue public membership in the agenda-setting process in a theoretical model. It will then test this model for five issues, based on media content analysis of 28 news outlets and a panel study of 2,456 respondents in the context of a national election. The findings of the path models show, first, that the public agenda is quite stable. Second, the influence of the media agenda on the public’s personal issue agenda is mediated through the involvement with a particular issue – i.e. issue public membership.
“Perceptions of Climate Changes Imagery. Evoking Salience and Self-Efficacy Through Visualization of Climate Change” (with Julia Metag, Mike Schäfer, Tjado Barsuhn, Tobias Füchslin): Although the media coverage of climate change has been given some attention in the last years, only very few studies deal with visual representations of climate change. As a study by O’Neill et al. (2013) for Australia, USA and the UK has shown, climate change imagery can shape people’s perceptions of the issue. Therefore we analyze the influence of climate change imagery on citizens’ perceptions in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. We focus on which images would increase the salience of climate change as an issue (‘this image makes me feel climate change is important’) and which images would enhance self-efficacy (‘this image makes me feel I can do something about climate change’). The data was gathered in Q-methodology sorting sessions which were held in the three countries. Results were quite consistent across countries. Imagery of climate change impacts promotes salience while imagery of renewable energies and mobility enhances self-efficacy. The findings are similar to the US, UK and Australia (O’Neill et al., 2013) and strengthen the cross-cultural consistency in perceptions of visual representations of climate change.