F05 - Media and Political Behaviour
Date: Jun 2 | Time: 01:30pm to 03:00pm | Location:
Chair/Président/Présidente : Dominik Stecula (University of Pennsylvania)
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Amanda Bittner (Memorial University)
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Eric Merkley (University of Toronto)
Anti-Intellectualism, Populism, the News Environment, and Health Misinformation in the American Public: Dominik Stecula (University of Pennsylvania)
Abstract: In this paper, we examine the relationship between self-reported social media use, anti-intellectualism, and health misinformation as it pertains to attitudes about vaccines and vaccine safety, especially the MMR vaccine. Social media use now dominates individuals informational engagement (Pew Research Center 2018). Anti-intellectualism, or the distrust and dismissal of experts and elites, has been on the rise both within the US and across the world (Motta 2018, Merkley 2019). Scholars have identified that anti-intellectual predispositions have an effect on information processing, and could impact how people evaluate information that they encounter (Merkley 2019). We focus on three faucets of misinformation about health as our outcome measures: endorsement of broad, health related conspiracy theories; factual knowledge about vaccination and immunization broadly defined; as well as anti-vaccine attitudes (Uscinski & Parent 2014; Oliver & Wood 2018; Dube et al 2013; MacDonald 2015; Oliver & Wood 2014; Jolley & Douglas 2014; 2017; Chan et al 2017). Hence, we focus on two key predictors (social media use, anti-intellectualism) to predict a wide range of health misinformation. Our main goal in this project is to examine the relationship between self-declared social media consumption and health misinformation levels. We pose two key research questions: are avid social media consumers more likely to hold inaccurate health information and beliefs, and if so, what kind of health misinformation? Further, we investigate the extent to which this relationship is moderated by anti-intellectualism.
Focused Electoral Communication: Does Message Clarity Leads to More Media Coverage?: David Dumouchel (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: Research on the relationship between the media and the political agenda (i.e. agenda-building) has produced contradictory results (Walgrave & Van Aelst 2006). A possible culprit might be linked to the ways in which scholars operationalize this relationship. Indeed, most studies operate under the assumption of salience transfer, where the amount of attention devoted to a given issue by parties is conceptualized as the main factor in explaining the amplitude of media coverage it will generate. This paper proposes to assess the influence of other tactical elements of the parties’ message. Stephen Harper, the former prime minister of Canada, was renowned for his daily campaign routine, which included highly focused morning events and partisan evening rallies (Martin 2010; Flanagan 2009, 2010). Both were engineered with message clarity in mind (i.e. promoting one clear issue per day). The effectiveness of the tactic has never been evaluated in a systematic way. This analysis will do so with a case study of the 2015 Canadian federal election. A mixed-method computer-assisted content analysis was conducted to identify daily issue salience within the political actors’ principal information subsidiaries – press releases, Facebook, and Twitter – as well as within four of Canada’s major news organizations (Globe and Mail, National Post, CBC and CTV nightly news broadcasts). This dataset will be used to appraise the effectiveness of message clarity, as an agenda-building device. Results should contribute to a better understanding of the ways in which tactical aspects of message delivery should be taken into account when assessing
The Canadian 'Nate Silver effect': Revisiting the mediated horserace in news coverage of the 2019 federal election: Brooks DeCillia (University of Calgary), John Santos (Janet Brown Opinion Research)
Abstract: In their study of media coverage of polls in the 2006 federal election, Matthews, Pickup, and Cutler (2012) concluded stories about polls feature more, not less, interpretive content than other kinds of election stories of equivalent length. This counter previous studies that suggest poll-centric journalism is less substantive than reporting that does not focus on polls. We revisit Mathews et al.’s theory of the mediated horserace and apply it to the reporting of polls in the 2019 federal election. The media and polling landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade. Increasing financial constraints faced by mainstream media along with the the growth of other sources of horserace information such as polling aggregators and seat forecasts has changed the news coverage of polls. Toff (2019) argues that while political journalism is obsessed with public opinion data, it is incapable of comprehending survey findings, raising normative questions about media and democracy. Our research explores if, as Mathews et. all (2012) suggest, the 2006 election was an exception and not the norm in Canada.