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Negativity in TV and newspaper political information: the case of the Spanish General Elections, 2004.

Oscar Luengo
Universidad de Granada
Oscar Luengo
Universidad de Granada
Open Panel

Abstract

The tone with which political information is covered by the media in contemporary democracies, is still one of the most important fields of analysis within political communication. This aim of this paper is the verification of the intensity in which political information was more or less negative during the electoral campaign in Spain, in 2004. In order to verify our hypothesis, we content analysed political information in primetime TV news broadcasts (Televisión Española (public), Antena 3, Telecinco and Canal +) as well the largest circulating newspapers at the national level: El País, El Mundo, ABC. We examined between February the 27th, and the March the10th: officially, the campaign was lasting till the day before the elections (March the 14th), but given the specific circumstances that surrounded the campaign (terrorist attacks that occurred in March the 11th and that caused almost 200 deaths), political parties decided to cancelled the campaign. The codebook included also various control variables in order to bridge the dimension of negativity with other important elements, that could be potentially crucial for mapping the negativity: channels, issues, actors, etc. Hence, we are not only scrutinising the negativity itself, but also the nature, environments, and conditionings of it. Finally, we discuss the relevance of negativism in a widespread context of lack of political commitment, quite visible in our democracies. Some data will be raised in order to disentangle the connexion of the way media is reporting political issues and the extension of political disaffection among European citizens.