University of Twente Student Theses


"A path of shadow and suspicion" : the portrayal of the 2020 American election in German and British news

Flaschka, Mareike (2021) "A path of shadow and suspicion" : the portrayal of the 2020 American election in German and British news.

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Abstract:Aim: Communication about American elections increased over the years and the topic is of great interest in the international discourse. Media play a crucial role in providing information and shaping opinions of people. As framing, journalistic writing style, frames, used tone of voice, partisan bias and applying emotions are used in media reporting, the study at hand investigates the portrayal of the 2020 American election in German and British newspapers. Germany and Britain were chosen as countries to be studied, because of their different media characteristics, journalism culture and national interest in American elections. This comparison was made to contribute to the overarching question how European countries portray American elections in their own countries. Ultimately, theoretical implications and future research attempts are proposed in the understudied field of communication about a cross-national comparison of elections outside the own country. Method: A 19-item coding scheme, containing five categories namely journalistic writing style, framing, tone of voice, partisan bias and emotions have been based on literature. 280 articles from two German and two British newspapers were analysed by means of a content analysis. Findings: Results of this study show that similar patterns can be observed between German and British news reporting about the 2020 American election. The most dominantly used frames in both countries were metacoverage and human interest while a neutral tone of voice was applied most often. Partisan bias was mostly found in British news, aligning with proposed expectations. Emotions only appeared to a small amount in news articles about the election but more frequently in British news. Conclusions: The findings of this study provide new insights into the field of political science and communication science. It is interesting how similar patterns were in German and British news reporting about the 2020 American election, which contradicts previous research that suggest that all variables differ between both countries. The only finding in line with previous research is that partisan bias was found more often in British news. A slightly higher number of emotions was also be found in British news. However, journalistic writing style, framing and tone of voice were not found to differ between the countries, suggesting a rather unexpected finding when related to other researchers. This study contributes to the understudied field of cross-national comparison about elections and suggests that German and Britain reported similar about the 2020 American election even if past research did contradict this argument. Moreover, that both media provide similar information in similar styles. Future research might be needed to further investigate the discrepancies between this study and previous studies to find more answers.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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