Echo Chambers in Election Coverage: Campaign Advertisements, Newspapers’ Readership Base, and Press-Party Parallelism in Turkey

TitleEcho Chambers in Election Coverage: Campaign Advertisements, Newspapers’ Readership Base, and Press-Party Parallelism in Turkey
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Çarkoğlu, A., L. Baruh, and K. Yıldırım
Affiliation (1st Author)Koc University Department of Media and Visual Arts
Section or WGMediated Communication, Public Opinion and Society Section
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodeMCPF3a
Slot Code (Keyword)MCPF3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
RoomCG12
Session TitleMedia and Civic Engagement
Submission ID5063
Abstract

The 2011 elections in Turkey took place in an increasingly polarized political atmosphere. Also, between 2007 and 2011 a number of “mainstream broadsheet” newspapers were acquired by media companies with close ties to the ruling party (Ak Parti) resulting in a noteworthy change in the structure of the media market in Turkey. Finally, for the first time in twenty years, television channels were allowed to air campaign advertisements, resulting in a heightened competition for campaign advertising budgets. In the light of these changes, the proposed paper will report findings regarding the trajectory of press-party parallelism over the course of the 12-week national elections campaign period. For this purpose, we conducted a content analysis of 8,929 articles and editorial columns from 15 newspapers, focusing on 1) respective “voice” given to the two leading parties (calculated as the ratio of news that quoted sources from the incumbent Ak Parti vs. the leading opposition party CHP) and 2) news articles’ tone toward Ak Parti and CHP, ranging from extremely negative (1) to extremely positive (7). The content analyzed newspapers were grouped based on their readership base: 1) A group of “conservative” newspapers whose readers intended to vote primarily for AK Parti, 2) A group of “mainstream broadsheets”, and 3) a group of “opposition” newspapers with a readership base intending to vote for CHP. The comparison of “conservative” vs. “opposition” newspapers confirms the existence of press-party parallelism for “conservative” vs. “opposition” newspapers in terms of the voice given to the respective political parties. Also, for the “conservative” newspapers, this gap exhibits a statistically significant jump from the first six weeks to the second half of the campaign, with increasingly more voice being given to the ruling Ak Parti. A similar weekly trend can be observed with respect to the tone of coverage of the political parties during the election campaign. First, whereas “conservative” newspapers tend to cover Ak Parti considerably favorably and CHP considerably unfavorably, “opposition” newspapers cover Ak Parti considerably negatively. On the other hand, “mainstream” newspapers’ tone toward both parties is consistently “neutral” or “mixed”. Second, press-party parallelism increases as the election campaign progresses. Particularly for “conservative” newspapers, this change in tone is not merely a gradual increase throughout the campaign; rather, there is a significant jump from the first six weeks to the second half of the twelve-week campaign period. In addition to the deepening of the cleavages between political parties over the course of the 2011 election campaign, one possible explanation for this increase in press-party parallelism may be the aforementioned competition for advertising budgets of political parties in the wake of the rules that, for the first time, allowed television channels to air campaign advertisements. As political parties started to spend their budgets increasingly on television advertisements in the second half of the campaign, the competition for the remaining advertising budgets may have lead to a further crystallization of the newspapers’ tone in campaign coverage.

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