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The Push To Popularize Politics

Andrea Umbricht, Frank Esser
Published 2016 · Sociology

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This study offers a five-item based measurement of popularization of news (combining sensationalization, scandalization, emotionalization, common people narrative and privatization of public figures) to examine a core assumption in the comparative literature, namely the convergence in Western journalism toward the Liberal Model. A content analysis of more than 6000 stories from 18 news outlets (regional, national and weekly papers) in six press systems (United States, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy) stretching across five decades (1960s to 2010s) finds an increase but no convergence in the popularization of political news. Factors located at the national and the organizational levels correspond in characteristic ways with differences in the use of popularization-related strategies. With the growing need to offer additional attractions to oversaturated consumers, further increases in popularized political news are to be expected in the future but only according to specific conditions.
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