News Coverage and Support for European Integration, 1990-2006
Posted: 5 Aug 2009
Date Written: Winter 2008
Citizens depend on information from the mass media when forming their opinion about political issues. Studies have shown that news media coverage of the EU can affect general and policy-specific support for European integration. Extant research has focused on individual-level analyses at specific points in time. The present study considers whether the visibility and the framing of EU news coverage conceptualized as contextual factors influence EU support at an aggregate level. We look at this question in seven EU member states for the period 1990-2006. By utilizing aggregated data of the content analytical indicators and aggregate public support measures in a time-series design, we relate variation in news content to subsequent public opinion dynamics. Our results suggest that both the framing of EU news in terms of benefit and conflict matters for public support. While benefit framing increases public support, conflict framing decreases support. We conclude with a discussion of the use of news content as a contextual variable in explaining the public opinion dynamics and potential benefits of this approach for future media effects research.
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