Dissemination, Dissemination. L’informazione credibile è online, ma il circolo virtuoso no!

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Can we trust online news? Is the Web more credible than the press? The results of the last Eurobarometer survey are rather surprising, for a couple of reasons. Italians believe that the news spread on social media are reliable. Unfortunately, the information broadcast on social media does not produce (so far) a “virtuous circle” of trust in political institutions. To learn more read this article published on the academic blog LaVoce.info, which cites my paper Internet, News, and Political Trust: The Difference Between Social Media and Online Media Outlets” published on the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

L’informazione online è attendibile? Più o meno della carta stampata? Il dato che emerge dall’ultima survey Eurobarometro è sorprendente e forse inquietante. Per almeno un paio di buone ragioni. Se gli italiani ritengono di poter trovare in Rete informazioni credibili, quello che invece online non si trova, almeno al momento, è la possibilità di generare un circolo virtuoso di fiducia nelle istituzioni. Per saperne di più leggete questo articolo pubblicato sul blog accademico LaVoce.info che rimanda al mio paper Internet, News, and Political Trust: The Difference Between Social Media and Online Media Outlets” pubblicato sul Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

Just Published! Public Policy & Social Media

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Public Policy and Social Media: How Sentiment Analysis Can Support Policy-Makers Across the Policy Cycle

Rivista Italiana di Politiche Pubbliche

Co-author: Fedra Negri

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Acknowledgments: Voices from the Blogs for providing data

What is worth remembering:

  • Sentiment analysis of social media posts can be useful to policy-makers
  • Social media data can serve as fire alarms to record the degree of trust in politics
  • Social media data can disclose citizens’ reaction to public policies
  • A ‘wisdom of the crowd’ approach to the evaluation of public policies is made possible by social media

Abstract

This article demonstrates that, in a «Big Data» world, comments of social media users can be used to support the action of policy-makers across all the steps of the policy cycle. It applies a modern technique of Supervised Aggregated Sentiment Analysis to three public policies introduced in Italy from 2012 to 2014: the abolishment of the public funding of political parties, the «jobs act» labour market reform and the «80 euros tax bonus». Results show that social media analysis can help policy-makers to accomplish the following tasks: 1) developing synthetic indicators that serve as «fire alarms» on relevant topics; 2) rating the available policy alternatives according to citizens’ preferences; 3) monitoring citizens’ behaviours and opinions during the implementation of a public policy.

Just Published! Changing politics, changing language: Ideology & Text analysis

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Changing politics, changing language.
The effect of institutional and communicative changes on political language measured through content analysis of Italian intra-party debates

Journal of Language & Politics (Journal IF: 0.231)

 

What is worth remembering:

  • In intra-party debates ideology (and left-right divide) still matter
  • Usage of populist words has not increased over time
  • Party leaders’ mentions have not increased over time
  • The clear ideological content of motions makes them suitable for estimating position of party factions
  • The clear ideological content of motions makes them suitable for automated text analysis (e.g. Wordfish)
  • The political ‘meaning’ of some words has changed over time (from left to right and vice versa). This risk must be acknowledged when using automated scaling techniques

Abstract

This paper examines the changes in political language that occurred after 1989 in Italy and focuses on textual documents drafted by intra-party subgroups between 1946 and 2010 that were related to the internal debates of Italian political parties. These documents, which are addressed to party members and activists rather than the wider public, have been analyzed through quantitative text analysis of word frequencies. The results confirm that a few relevant changes occurred that involve the lexicon, tone, and content of messages. However, concepts such as left and right are still relevant, and we observed neither a strong decline in the use of ideological terms nor a wider usage of populist words. Despite the growing personalization of politics, the main political leaders are not frequently mentioned, with two exceptions: Prodi and Berlusconi. Overall, there is a distance between intra-party politics and the logic of entertainment.

Just Published! The Difference between Online News and Social Media

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Internet, News, and Political Trust: The Difference Between Social Media and Online Media Outlets

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (Journal IF: 3.117)

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Acknowledgments: Voices from the Blogs for sharing data.

What is worth remembering:

  • The slant of online news differs from the sentiment spread on social media
  • During scandals, news media also broadcast the views of political elites
  • Social media are more clear-cut and focus more on criticism
  • We find support for the ‘virtuous circle’ theory
  • The consumption of online news is associated with higher political trust
  • The consumption of news from social media is associated with lower political trust
  • Need to preserve the quality of news (professional v/ citizen journalism)

Abstract

What is the relationship between Internet usage and political trust? To answer this question, we performed a cross-sectional analysis of Eurobarometer survey data related to 27 countries and a supervised sentiment analysis of online political information broadcast during the Italian debate on the reform of public funding of parties. The results disclose the differences between Web 1.0 websites and Web 2.0 social media, showing that consumption of news from information/news websites is positively associated with higher trust, while access to information available on social media is linked with lower trust. This has implications for the debate on social media as a public sphere and for the tension between professional and citizen journalism.

Just Published! Measuring Online Euroscepticism

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Alla ricerca dell’euroscetticismo sui social media: un confronto tra 12 Stati membri in occasione delle elezioni europee 2014

Biblioteca della libertà

Co-author: Luigi Curini and Marco Mainenti 

Acknowledgments: Unicredit Bank and East on line for funding the project. Voices from the Blogs for providing data

What is worth remembering:

  • We provided an index of Euroscepticism through sentiment analysis
  • Online Euroscepticism is correlated with Trust in EU according to the Eurostat survey
  • We find a divide between supporters and opponents of a German-centric EU

Abstract

The present paper adopts a modern technique of sentiment analysis to analyze the comments published on social media concerning four types of EU related policies: austerity, labour policies, fiscal union and banking union. In the process the paper compares judgments made by public opinion in 12 different EU Member States. This analysis allows us to build an index of online Euroscepticism and shows that criticism is markedly higher on the topic of austerity, whereas European public opinion seems more favourable to the banking union. Online Euroscepticism is lower in Germany and in new Members States, and such index is correlated with the trust in European Union measured through traditional survey data.

Just Published! Toga Party: The Political Bias of Italian Judges (1983–2013)

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Toga Party: The Political Basis of
Judicial Investigations against MPs in
Italy (1983–2013)

South European Society & Politics (Journal IF: 1.035)

Co-author: Marco Mainenti

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Acknowledgments: Associazione Nazionale Magistrati (ANM) for sharing data. Yoshi Kobayashi, Jim Newell, Veronica Grembi, Raffaele Asquer, Fabio Franchino, Luigi Curini, Chris Hanretty, Federica Genovese, Chiara Superti, Cristina Dallara, Guido De Blasio, Tommaso Nannicini, as well as participant at the annual meeting of European Political Science Association, Barcelona, 20–22 June 2013, and the annual conference of the Italian Society of Political Science, Florence, 12–14 September 2013 for helpful comments and suggestions.

What is worth remembering:

  • There are left-wing judges and right-wing judges, baby
  • Prosecutors’ ideological positions affect judicial investigations
  • Left-wing judges send more RAP to right-wing parties
  • Right-wing judges send less RAP to right-wing parties
  • The politicisation of the judiciary began well before Tangentopoli and Berlusconi
  • The independence of the judiciary does not necessarily imply impartiality

Abstract

Scholars agree that ideology affects judicial decision-making. We demonstrate that this proposition holds true even when the judiciary is independent of political control. Focusing on Italy (1983–2013), where the politicisation of the judiciary was an issue well before the entry of Berlusconi into politics, we estimate judicial orientations according to the support for factions within the National Judiciary Association. The results show that ideology affects trial court activity against deputies. As the support for left-wing factions increases, prosecutors are more likely to investigate right-wing parties. Conversely, as the share of right-leaning factions grows, investigations of moderate or rightist parties decrease.