Studying media events in the European social surveys across research designs, countries, time, issues, and outcomes
European Political Science
Reason for embargo
Scholars often study isolated media effects using one method at one time point in one country. We seek to generalise the research in this area by examining hundreds of press-worthy events across dozens of countries at various points in time with an array of techniques and outcome measures. In particular, we merge a database containing thousands of events with five waves of the European Social Survey to conduct analyses across countries and individuals as well as within countries and for specific respondents. The results suggest that there is an impressive degree of heterogeneity when it comes to how citizens react to political developments. Some events generate significant opinion changes when groups of individuals who are 'treated' are compared with 'control' cases. However, other events produce modest or even null findings with methods that employ different counterfactuals. Thus, findings of both strong and weak media effects that scholars have uncovered over the years could be a function of methodological choices as well as context-specific factors such as institutional arrangements, media systems, eras, or event characteristics. Data limitations also make some research designs possible while they preclude others. We conclude with advice for others who wish to study political events in this manner as well as discussion of media effects, broadly construed.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Palgrave via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 14, pp. 394 - 421