Just Published! Twitter vs Media: First and Second level Agenda Setting in Italy


First and Second Level Agenda-Setting in the Twitter-Sphere. An Application to the Italian Political Debate

Journal of Information Technology & Politics

Co-authors: Luigi Curini & Stefano M. Iacus

Acknowledgments: Voices from the Blogs for providing data

What is worth remembering:

  • We analyze agenda-setting focusing on two salient issues in the Italian political debate: austerity and the public funding of parties (related to Euro-skepticism and anti-politics)
  • We compared Twitter and the Online News
  • Using a Lead-Lag statistical technique we find that mass media still retain
  • First-Level Agenda-Setting: They influence the Twitter-attention toward an issue
  • Journalists can act as watch-dogs as their action can promote further (public) discussion also on anti-establishment issues
  • Using Supervised Sentiment Analysis we find that mass media do not exert Second-Level Agenda-Setting: They do not influence the Twitter-attitudes toward an issue
  • We found a citizen-elite divide between the opinions expressed on SNS and the slant spread by the media elite


The rise of Social Network Sites re-opened the debate on the ability of traditional media to influence the public opinion and act as agenda-setter. To answer this question, the present paper investigates first-level and second-level agenda-setting effects in the online environment by focusing on two Italian heated political debates (the reform of public funding of parties and the debate over austerity). By employing innovative and efficient statistical methods like the lead-lag analysis and supervised sentiment analysis, we compare the attention devoted to each issue and the content spread by online news media and Twitter users. Our results show that online media keep their first-level agenda-setting power even though we find a marked difference between the slant of online news and the Twitter sentiment.

Just Published! Trust in Government and Media Slant in Europe


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!)


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.