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The Personalization of Mediated Political Communication: Operationalising a Key Concept for the Analysis of News Content

Peter Van Aelst
Universiteit Antwerpen
Tamir Sheafer
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
James Stanyer
Loughborough University
Peter Van Aelst
Universiteit Antwerpen
Open Panel

Abstract

Personalization has become a central concept in the discussions on how political news and election coverage in particular has changed over time. The general impression is that the focus of news coverage has shifted from parties and organizations to candidates and leaders. However, the evidence from democracies is far from conclusive. This is due in no small part to a lack of conceptual clarity and an absence of common operationalizations which are a major cause of the unclear or conflicting conclusions about the personalization of political news. This paper seeks to remedy this shortcoming. It presents a model for comprehending the personalization of political news based on a survey of a raft of relevant studies. The article makes a series of recommendations for how the concept might be operationalized for an analysis of media content in order to enable cross nationally comparative research.