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.

Just Printed! Brave rebels stay home: Whipping factionalism in parliamentary votes

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Brave rebels stay home. Assessing the effect of intra-party ideological heterogeneity and party whip on roll-call votes

Party Politics (Journal IF: 1.488)

First published: January 24, 2013

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Acknowledgments: Luigi Curini and Francesco Zucchini for sharing data; Luigi Curini and Marco Mainenti for comments

What is worth remembering:

  • Link between intra-party ideological heterogeneity and party unity in roll call votes (RCVs)
  • Measure policy position of intra-party factions through quantitative text analysis of congress motions
  • Provide index of intra-party polarization external to parliamentary debates
  • Heterogeneity of policy preferences lowers party unity in RCVs
  • This effect is conditional on the strength of whipping tools available to the party leader (e.g. centralized or decentralizes candidate selection; open list PR versus other electoral systems)
  • Rebels can stay home: strategic absences are a fourth voting option beyond ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘Abstain’ that must be taken into account when analyzing RCVs

Abstract

Sanctions and homogeneity of intra-party preferences are the two main pathways to party unity in roll-call votes. However, only a few works have managed to properly measure the degree of polarization within the party, and therefore the link between ideological preferences and parliamentary voting behaviour has not yet been fully tested. Looking at the internal debates held during party congresses and analysing motions presented by party factions through quantitative text analysis, the present article provides a new measure of intra-party polarization that is exogenous to the parliamentary arena. This measure is used to disentangle the effect of ideological heterogeneity on MPs voting behaviour, net of the party whip. Our results show that factional heterogeneity negatively affects party unity. This effect, however, is conditional on the strength of whipping resources available to the party leader. When the electoral system or the intra-party candidate selection process allows strong discipline to be enforced, the negative effect of heterogeneous preferences on party unity is lower or no longer significant. However, since absences can be a strategy by which to express dissent while avoiding sanctions, they should be considered as an additional voting option and this is crucial to understanding the impact of intra-party heterogeneity on party unity.

Just Published! Trust in Government and Media Slant in Europe

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Trust in Government and Media Slant
A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Media Effects in Twenty-Seven European Countries

International Journal of Press/Politics (Journal IF: 1.872)

Co-author: Vincenzo Memoli

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Acknowledgments: Sergio Splendore for sharing information and data on newspapers and public television

What is worth remembering:

  • Media are not equal to each other
  • The ideology of the audience can be used as a proxy for the ideology of the media outlet
  • Consumption of antigovernment newspapers is associated with lower trust
  • Consumption of public service broadcaster (PSB) is associated with higher trust
  • Media act like ‘echo-chambers’ that reinforce preexisting attitudes
  • Cross-cutting information barely alters trust in government (no hostile media effect)
  • Cognitive dissonance? Counter-attitudinal behavior can shape preferences, though only when there are no external justifications (e.g., buying antigovernment newspapers has a cost so you change your mind; watching pro-government PSB is free or subject to compulsory tax so no effect)
  • Implications for (academic and nonacademic) debate on the polarizing effect of cable television (watching cable TV has a cost so you can change your mind due to cognitive dissonance!)

Abstract

Several scholars investigate the link between news media and political attitudes of citizens, showing that media exposure affects confidence in political institutions. Beginning from this perspective, we analyze trust in government in twenty-seven European countries, testing the interactive relationship between citizens’ policy views and media slant. Under the assumption that news media bias content in the direction of their audiences or are compliant with potential influence exerted by the government, we use Eurobarometer survey data to measure the effects of the ideological slant of newspapers and public television on trust in government. Our results show that the pro- or antigovernment slant of media outlets interacts with the individual ideological views of each citizen and confirm that media act like “echo-chambers” that reinforce preexisting attitudes. Conversely, the consumption of counter-attitudinal information barely alters trust in government nor does it produce hostile media effects. We also find a slight difference between newspaper readers and public service broadcaster (PSB) users, which seems related to mechanisms of cognitive dissonance.

Just Published! Social Media, Flames & Satisfaction with Democracy

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Flames and Debates: Do Social Media Affect Satisfaction
with Democracy?

Social Indicators Research (Journal IF: 1.395)

Co-author: Vincenzo Memoli

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

 

What is worth remembering:

  • Internet usage and consumption of news on Internet are two different things
  • Internet users that consume news from social media are less satisfied with democracy
  • Internet users that consume news from social media are less satisfied with democracy, particularly when they are surrounded by users retaining different views
  • The interactivity of SNS can generate flames!
  • Internet users that consume news from online traditional media are more satisfied with democracy

Abstract

Media plays an important role in defining the quality of democracy in consolidated democracy. Internet, in turn, can wield effects on democracy and many scholars have investigated such relationship. Moving from this literature we use Eurobarometer data to estimate the effect of Internet on the satisfaction with the functioning of democracy among European citizens. The results show that Internet usage, per se, has no effect on the satisfaction with democracy. However, the consumption of online news can make the difference, even though this effect is positive when users consume news from online traditional media while social media has a negative effect, which is mediated by the level of online disagreement and the potential emergence of flames.

Just Published! (Positive and Negative) E-campaigning on Twitter in the 2013 Italian election

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E-campaigning on Twitter: The effectiveness of distributive promises and negative campaign in the 2013 Italian election

New Media & Society (Journal IF: 2.052)

Co-author: Giovanna d’Adda

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Acknowledgments: Voices from the Blogs; Alessandra Cremonesi; University of Birmingham

What is worth remembering:

  • Analysis of Twitter useful to investigate electoral campaign effects
  • Voting intentions on Twitter react to real events of the campaign
  • Negative campaign effective against rival adjacent parties
  • Negative campaign more effective when the attacker is under attack (voters close ranks!)
  • Negative campaign = more votes for PD (+1.31%) rather than PDL (+0.22%)
  • Distributive promises effective only when properly targeted
  • Distributive promises = more votes for Berlusconi’s PDL (+0.12%) but less for PD (-0.42%)
  • More “Spread” = more votes for Grillo’s M5S (+0.37%) and less for PD (-0.52%)

Abstract

Recent studies investigated the effect of e-campaigning on the electoral performance. However, little attention has been paid to the content of e-campaigning. Given that political parties broadcast minute-by-minute the campaign messages on social media, this comprehensive and unmediated information can be useful to evaluate the impact of different electoral strategies. Accordingly, this article examines the electoral campaign for the 2013 Italian general election to assess the effectiveness of positive and negative campaigning messages, measured through content analysis of information published on the official Twitter accounts of Italian parties. We evaluate their impact on the share of unsolicited voting intentions expressed on Twitter, measured through an innovative technique of sentiment analysis. Our results show that negative campaign has positive effects and its impact is stronger when the attacker is meanwhile under attack. Conversely, we only find a circumstantial effect of positive campaign related to clientelistic and distributive appeals.