Volume 53, No. 2 | Political communication in a new media era

Mark Blach-Ørsten og Eva Mayerhöffer | The political information environment in Denmark 2.0

The article analyzes and discusses recent developments in the political information environment in Denmark, understood as the supply of and demand for political news and political information in a given society. The article focuses on the supply of and demand for (political) news by traditional news media and alternative news media, as offered offline, online and on social media. The article shows that leading traditional news media are still the cornerstone of Danish news consumption, but also that users with lower levels of education and income from outside the Copenhagen area access traditional news outlets less frequently than the rest of the population. For social media, the analysis shows that Facebook remains the dominant social media platform in Denmark. At the same time, only 13 percent of Danish citizens consider “social media” as their most important source of news. Finally, the analysis of the Danish alternative media landscape shows that the monopoly position of traditional news media as a provider of news and views to a wide audience is increasingly challenged by a very heterogeneous group of new online media that includes hyperpartisan media, slow news media and debate-oriented media. The article concludes by discussing how the changes in the political information landscape can affect the democratic dialogue in Denmark.

Keywords: Media use, news media, alternative media, social media, political information environment, Denmark 

Kim Andersen, Arjen van Dalen, David Nicolas Hopmann, Morten Skovsgaard and Erik Albæk | Trust in Danish journalists and news media: in decay or not?

In this article, we examine 1) how trust in Danish journalists and news media has developed over time, 2) whether trust in different types of news media differs, and 3) how people’s party preference affect their trust in journalists and news media. Our analyses are based on comprehensive data from the European Commission, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Radius Kommunikation, and DR Media Research, and show 1) that trust in journalists and news media is stable over time, 2) that people have higher trust in public service news and quality newspapers and lower trust in tabloid news media, and 3) that party preference explains some variations in trust.

Keywords: trust, credibility, news media, journalists  

Frederik Hjorth and Rebecca Adler-Nielsen | Does media coverage of fake news affect citizens’ reactions to misinformation and its correction?

During the 2016 US presidential election campaign, interest in fake news surged among political elites, media, and mass publics. This raises the question of how general awareness of fake news affects information processing by citizens. We address this deficit by theorizing about the consequences of awareness of fake news for receptivity to misinformation. We hypothesize that individuals induced to be more aware of fake news will be less likely to update beliefs and attitudes in response to information from news media. We test this theoretical expectation in a pre-registered experiment in cooperation with a national news magazine in Denmark. Results suggest that contrary to the hypothesis, primed and unprimed respondents react similarly. In both groups, misinformation affects approval of a fictional politician in the predicted direction, and a subsequent correction fully cancels out the initial effect of misinformation. The results suggest that the risk of fake news fatigue is limited and media outlets can discuss the phenomenon of fake news in general as well as present concrete factual corrections with little risk of engendering additional media skepticism.

Keywords: misinformation, fake news, experiments, media trust  

Arjen van Dalen | When algorithms steer the news: YouTube recommendations during the 2019 national elections

What people see and read in the media is no longer only determined by journalists, but increasingly by algorithms. These algorithms select, sort, and prioritize our information. Automatic processes like YouTube’s recommendation algorithm influence our views of the world. An important democratic question is whether YouTube’s recommendation algorithm incidentally exposes the audience to political information after watching entertainment content and whether the algorithm creates a filter bubble by primarily recommending content with a similar political perspective. During the Danish parliamentary elections 2019, the recommendation algorithm was more likely to lead viewers away from news and public affairs than towards political content. After watching a video posted by political parties Venstre or Stram Kurs, the algorithm primarily recommends videos from these same parties, which could strengthen confirmation bias and reinforce political beliefs. For other parties, this was less the case. Little evidence was found that the recommendation algorithm leads viewers from mainstream content to extreme right content.

Keywords: algorithms, filter bubble, YouTube, parliamentary elections 2019, selective exposure


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