ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Integrating Media Content Data with Polish National Election Surveys

Hubert Tworzecki, Holli A. Semetko

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 6 - Law Building, Room 022
Date: 2012-07-10 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2012-01-04


This paper reviews the authors’ experiences of integrating a media content component with national surveys conducted in Poland in the context of parliamentary and presidential elections of 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011. Since political parties and civil society organizations in relatively new democracies (such as Poland) tend to be weak and underdeveloped, it falls to the media – especially television news – to perform a wide range of functions, from educating citizens about issues to setting the political agenda to serving as the main arena for electoral campaigning. This being the case, the major motivation for our project was to develop accurate profiles of the major television news media outlets, not just in terms of their partisan biases (if any) but also in terms of style, such as the use of specific metaphors (e.g. sports or war) or journalistic affectations (e.g. disdain). We hypothesized (correctly, as it turned out) that systematic exposure to media outlets with such distinct traits would have empirically observable consequences for political attitudes and behavior. To this end, we developed a detailed battery of media use questions and were able to include it in all Polish election surveys since 2005. This paper discusses the choices behind the design of both media content codebooks and survey questionnaires, and summarizes the most important findings from our project.