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! Social Media, Flames & Satisfaction with Democracy


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


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.