Special Issue "Journalism and Politics: New Influences and Dynamics in the Social Media Era"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "Contemporary Politics and Society".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 October 2021) | Viewed by 32157

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Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Andreu Casero-Ripollés
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Guest Editor
Department of Communication Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Universitat Jaume I de Castelló, Av. Vicent Sos Baynat, s/n, 12071 Castellón de la Plana, Spain
Interests: journalism; political communication; social media; digital journalism; social influence; digital media

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

The relationship between journalism and politics has always played a central role in democratic societies. It is essential for setting the agenda, defining social frames of problems and issues related to the public interest, promoting public debates, as well as shaping public opinion. The emergence of the Internet and the advent of social media have led to many changes in the communication environment and the relationship dynamics, as well as power distribution between journalism and politics. Additionally, important changes have been detected in the demand–supply chain of political information.

This new environment has boosted the development of a new network logic and a hybrid system where old and new media constantly interrelate through platforms that play a central role in the current social dynamics. The processes of production, distribution, and consumption of political information were transformed by the rise of digital media. Several new phenomena changed the game rules between journalism and politics. This includes the growing number of sources of information that increased the competition and decreased journalists’ monopoly over news. It also includes the new forms of political news consumption and its consequences on the political culture of citizens, as well as the prevalence of fake news and sophisticated propaganda and disinformation strategies. Moreover, there has also been transformation in the distribution of power within the communicative system and the exercise of social influence by media, journalists, as well as political actors.

The objective of this Special Issue is to examine the processes that are transforming the relationship between journalism and politics in this new digital communicative environment. Likewise, we are also interested in critically exploring the consequences and effects of these phenomena on political communication, democracy, and society. Accordingly, we hope to receive high-quality research that employs a wide range of methodologies that utilize traditional (i.e., content analysis, semistructured interviews, etc.) and/or innovative computational methods. We call for the submission of papers that focus on:

  • The new parameters of relationship and interaction between journalists and politicians in social media;
  • The strategies and communicative behavior of political actors in digital media;
  • The productive routines of political journalists in social media;
  • The role of social media and political journalism in the dissemination of populism;
  • The fake news and disinformation in social media and their effect on political communication as well as democracy;
  • The fact-checking initiatives in the area of political information;
  • The effects of digital media on selective exposure and polarization;
  • The strategies of spectacularization and political infotainment in social media;
  • The changes in the construction of the public agenda in the digital environment;
  • The transformations in the exercise of social influence by media and political journalists in the digital context;
  • The role of political influencers and digital opinion leaders in the digital environment;
  • The use of algorithms in political journalism;
  • The use of data-driven campaigns and online political microtargeting techniques as well as their democratic consequences;
  • The use of new applications and digital tools such as mobile instant messaging apps in journalism and political communication;
  • The new ways of consuming political news in the digital environment;
  • The changes in the parameters of the mediatization of politics;
  • The impact of digital communication strategies and techniques of journalists as well as politicians on the political culture of citizens;
  • The changes and consequences of the digital communicative environment on the conditions of a healthy democracy.

We seek to receive papers that contribute to the advancement of knowledge in this important field.

Prof. Andreu Casero-Ripollés
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • digital journalism
  • political communication
  • social media
  • political journalism
  • digital media

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
The Great Change: Impact of Social Media on the Relationship between Journalism and Politics—Introduction to the Special Issue
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11020040 - 25 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1072
Abstract
Digital media have become an indispensable element of a growing number of human practices that depend on these platforms to a great extent [...] Full article

Research

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Article
“Why Can’t We?” Disinformation and Right to Self-Determination. The Catalan Conflict on Twitter
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(10), 383; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100383 - 13 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1386
Abstract
Disinformation does not always take the form of a fake news item, it also appears in much less evident formats which are subtly filtered into public opinion, thus making its detection more difficult. A method is proposed in this paper to address the [...] Read more.
Disinformation does not always take the form of a fake news item, it also appears in much less evident formats which are subtly filtered into public opinion, thus making its detection more difficult. A method is proposed in this paper to address the study of “widespread” disinformation by combining social science methods with artificial intelligence and text mining. The case study chosen was the expression “right of self-determination” as a generator of disinformation within the context of the Catalan independence process. The main work hypothesis was that the (intentional or unintentional) confusion around the meaning and scope of this right has become widely extended within the population, generating negative emotions which favour social polarisation. The method utilised had three stages: (1) Description of the disinformation elements surrounding the term with the help of experts; (2) Detection of these elements within a corpus of tweets; (3) Identification of the emotions expressed in the corpus. The results show that the disinformation described by experts clearly dominates the conversation about “self-determination” on Twitter and is associated with a highly negative emotional load in which contempt, hatred, and frustration prevail. Full article
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Article
Hybrid Intelligence Strategies for Identifying, Classifying and Analyzing Political Bots
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(10), 357; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100357 - 27 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1388
Abstract
Political bots, through astroturfing and other strategies, have become important players in recent elections in several countries. This study aims to provide researchers and the citizenry with the necessary knowledge to design strategies to identify bots and counteract what international organizations have deemed [...] Read more.
Political bots, through astroturfing and other strategies, have become important players in recent elections in several countries. This study aims to provide researchers and the citizenry with the necessary knowledge to design strategies to identify bots and counteract what international organizations have deemed bots’ harmful effects on democracy and, simultaneously, improve automatic detection of them. This study is based on two innovative methodological approaches: (1) dealing with bots using hybrid intelligence (HI), a multidisciplinary perspective that combines artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing, political science, and communication science, and (2) applying framing theory to political bots. This paper contributes to the literature in the field by (a) applying framing to the analysis of political bots, (b) defining characteristics to identify signs of automation in Spanish, (c) building a Spanish-language bot database, (d) developing a specific classifier for Spanish-language accounts, (e) using HI to detect bots, and (f) developing tools that enable the everyday citizen to identify political bots through framing. Full article
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Article
The Influence of the Negative Campaign on Facebook: The Role of Political Actors and Citizens in the Use of Criticism and Political Attack in the 2016 Spanish General Elections
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(10), 356; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100356 - 26 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1353
Abstract
Social media has become an essential platform in the field of digital political communication. In the context of accommodating electoral campaigns to digital media and the absence of barriers to freedom of expression existing on these platforms, attacks on political rivals and negative [...] Read more.
Social media has become an essential platform in the field of digital political communication. In the context of accommodating electoral campaigns to digital media and the absence of barriers to freedom of expression existing on these platforms, attacks on political rivals and negative campaigns are increasing on social media. This research analyzes the use of criticism on Facebook by political actors during the electoral campaign and citizens’ reactions to these messages. The sample (n = 601) contains the publications disseminated on Facebook by political parties and leaders during the electoral campaign of the general elections of 26 June 2016 in Spain. The results show that criticism is an emerging resource in the digital communication strategy of political actors, mainly used by the opposition parties and their candidates, who focus their attacks on the party and leader of the Government. Attacks are mainly focused on the professional side of their rivals, although they also give a central role to emotions. Citizens are attracted to these attacks and are prone to interact with posts that include this resource. Full article
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Article
Political Leaders in the APP Ecosystem
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(8), 307; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10080307 - 13 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1442
Abstract
This article analyzes the process of symbolic and critical-discursive construction of applications developed for mobile devices for some of the world’s most important heads of state through their manifestation in the ecosystem of mobile applications for iOS and Android. The sample includes 233 [...] Read more.
This article analyzes the process of symbolic and critical-discursive construction of applications developed for mobile devices for some of the world’s most important heads of state through their manifestation in the ecosystem of mobile applications for iOS and Android. The sample includes 233 applications of 45 politicians from 37 countries. A content analysis-based method was applied to the discourse of these apps and users’ comments. The results reveal the dominant discourses in this scenario and identify the characteristics that influence their popularity, the influence of viral content and their reception in the connection between the mobile ecosystem and the political sphere. The discourse on the apps reveals a commercial interest and the existence of a diffuse diffusion of political commitment in terms of entertainment, parody and virality. Full article
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Article
Populism, Twitter, and COVID-19: Narrative, Fantasies, and Desires
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(8), 294; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10080294 - 04 Aug 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2403
Abstract
During a global pandemic, the great impact of populist discourse on the construction of social reality is undeniable. This study analyzes the fantasmatic dimension of political discourse from Donald Trump’s and Jair Bolsonaro’s Twitter accounts between 1 March and 31 May. To do [...] Read more.
During a global pandemic, the great impact of populist discourse on the construction of social reality is undeniable. This study analyzes the fantasmatic dimension of political discourse from Donald Trump’s and Jair Bolsonaro’s Twitter accounts between 1 March and 31 May. To do so, it applies a Clause-Based Semantic Text Analysis (CBSTA) methodology that categorizes speech in Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) triplets. The study findings show that in spite of the Coronavirus pandemic, the main beatific and horrific subjects remain the core populist signifiers: the people and the elite. While Bolsonaro’s narrative was predominantly beatific, centered on the government, Trump’s was mostly horrific, centered on the elite. Trump signified the pandemic as a subject and an enemy to be defeated, whereas Bolsonaro portrayed it as a circumstance. Finally, both leaders defined the people as working people, therefore their concerns about the pandemic were focused on the people’s ability to work. Full article
Article
Global Spaces for Local Politics: An Exploratory Analysis of Facebook Ads in Spanish Election Campaigns
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(7), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10070271 - 15 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1673
Abstract
Sponsored content on Facebook has become an indispensable tool for implementing political campaign strategies. However, in political communication research, this channel is still unexplored due to its advertising model in which only target audiences are exposed to sponsored content. The launching of the [...] Read more.
Sponsored content on Facebook has become an indispensable tool for implementing political campaign strategies. However, in political communication research, this channel is still unexplored due to its advertising model in which only target audiences are exposed to sponsored content. The launching of the Facebook Ad Library in May 2018 can be considered a turning point in this regard, inasmuch as it now offers users direct access to ads paid for by political parties, among other advertisers. This paper analyzes some aspects of the strategies implemented by six national parties during the campaigns running up to the two general elections held in Spain in 2019, by performing an analysis on a corpus of 14,684 ads downloaded directly from the Facebook Ad Library. It also provides evidence of the different emphasis placed by the parties on sponsored content. For its part, an analysis of ad scheduling shows how the publishing of ads was stepped up as polling day approached, while also revealing the practice of posting political content way in advance of election campaigns. Full article
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Article
Transparency Policies in European Public Broadcasters: Sustainability, Digitalisation and Fact-Checking
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(6), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10060217 - 09 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1788
Abstract
Over the last few years, European public broadcasters have promoted the concept of public service media as one of their main values. To this end, transparency policies have been implemented as a mechanism of corporate projection by strengthening their role as an essential [...] Read more.
Over the last few years, European public broadcasters have promoted the concept of public service media as one of their main values. To this end, transparency policies have been implemented as a mechanism of corporate projection by strengthening their role as an essential service. The objective of this article is to ascertain the existence of this type of policies among European public broadcasters. To this end, a nominal group was made with 24 experts who were surveyed, thus generating new indicators of transparency and accountability strategies around sustainability and digitalization. The contents of the websites of RTVE (Spain), RTP (Portugal), France TV (France), RAI (Italy), BBC (UK), RTÉ (Ireland), ZDF (Germany), VRT (Belgium), and SVT (Sweden) were also analyzed, paying attention to such indicators and strategies. The main results include the identification of differences on the basis of the ideal models described by Hallin and Mancini; a commitment to credibility (fact-checking) to the detriment of diversity of opinions; and a connection between the political system and the media system, which, preliminarily, determines the level of transparency of these public entities. Full article
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Article
Credibility of Digital Political News in Spain: Comparison between Traditional Media and Social Media
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(5), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10050170 - 13 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2157
Abstract
In the context of the dissemination of fake news and the traditional media outlets’ loss of centrality, the credibility of digital news emerges as a key factor for today’s democracies. The main goal of this paper was to identify the levels of credibility [...] Read more.
In the context of the dissemination of fake news and the traditional media outlets’ loss of centrality, the credibility of digital news emerges as a key factor for today’s democracies. The main goal of this paper was to identify the levels of credibility that Spanish citizens assign to political news in the online environment. A national survey (n = 1669) was designed to assess how the news format affected credibility and likelihood of sharing. Four different news formats were assessed, two of them linked to traditional media (digital newspapers and digital television) and two to social media (Facebook and WhatsApp). Four experimental groups assigned a credibility score and a likelihood of sharing score to four different political news items presented in the aforementioned digital formats. The comparison between the mean credibility scores assigned to the same news item presented in different formats showed significant differences among groups, as did the likelihood of sharing the news. News items shown in a traditional media format, especially digital television, were assigned more credibility than news presented in a social media format, and participants were also more likely to share the former, revealing a more cautious attitude towards social media as a source of news. Full article
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Article
Impact of Trump’s Digital Rhetoric on the US Elections: A View from Worldwide Far-Right Populism
Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(5), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10050152 - 26 Apr 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2425
Abstract
A time of turmoil and uncertainty is invading the public sphere. Under the framework of the 2020 US elections, populist leaders around the world supported Trump’s speech on Twitter, sharing a common ideology and language. This study examines which issues (issue frame), and [...] Read more.
A time of turmoil and uncertainty is invading the public sphere. Under the framework of the 2020 US elections, populist leaders around the world supported Trump’s speech on Twitter, sharing a common ideology and language. This study examines which issues (issue frame), and strategies (game frame) framed the messages of populism on Twitter by analyzing the equivalences through Trump’s storytelling and checking the bias of the media in the coverage of the US elections. We selected a sample of tweets (n = 1497) and digital front pages of global newspapers (n = 112) from the date of the Trump/Biden face-to-face debate (29 September 2020) until the Democratic party candidate was proclaimed the winner of the elections by the media (7 November 2020). Using a content analysis method based on triangulation (quantitative and qualitative-discursive), we analyzed the Twitter accounts of five leaders (@realDonalTrump, @MLP_officiel, @matteosalvinimi, @Santi_ABASCAL, and @Jairbolsonaro) and five digital front pages (The New York Times, O Globo, Le Monde, La Repubblica, and El País). The results show that populist politicians reproduced the discourse of fraud and conspiracy typical of Trump’s politics on Twitter. The negative bias of the media was also confirmed, giving prominence to a rhetoric of disinformation that overlaps with the theory of populism. Full article
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Article
Topic Modeling and Characterization of Hate Speech against Immigrants on Twitter around the Emergence of a Far-Right Party in Spain
Soc. Sci. 2020, 9(11), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9110188 - 23 Oct 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2800
Abstract
In this paper, we sought to model and characterize hate speech against immigrants on Twitter in Spain around the appearance of the far-right party Vox. More than 240,000 tweets that included the term ‘Vox’ between November 2018 and April 2019 were automatically collected [...] Read more.
In this paper, we sought to model and characterize hate speech against immigrants on Twitter in Spain around the appearance of the far-right party Vox. More than 240,000 tweets that included the term ‘Vox’ between November 2018 and April 2019 were automatically collected and analyzed. Only 1% of the sample included hate speech expressions. Within this subsample of 1977 messages, we found offenses (56%), incitements to hate (42%), and violent speech (2%). The most frequent terms used were classified into five categories: Spain, Immigration, Government, Islam, and Insults. The most common features were foul language, false or doubtful information, irony, distasteful expressions, humiliation or contempt, physical or psychological threats, and incitement to violence. Using unsupervised topic modeling, we found that the four underlying topics (control of illegal immigration, economic assistance for immigrants, consequences of illegal immigration, and Spain as an arrival point for African immigrants and Islamist terrorism) were similar to those in the discourse of Vox. We conclude that the hate speech against immigrants produced around Vox, and not necessarily by Vox, followed the general patterns of this type of speech detected in previous works, including Islamophobia, offensive language more often than violent language, and the refusal to offer public assistance to these collectives. Full article
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Review

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Review
Framing Studies Evolution in the Social Media Era. Digital Advancement and Reorientation of the Research Agenda
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11010009 - 27 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1932
Abstract
Framing studies remain a powerful line of research in political communication. However, in recent years, coinciding with the emergence of social media, theoretical and operational advances have been detected, as well as a significant reorientation of its research agenda. The interaction between media [...] Read more.
Framing studies remain a powerful line of research in political communication. However, in recent years, coinciding with the emergence of social media, theoretical and operational advances have been detected, as well as a significant reorientation of its research agenda. The interaction between media and platforms such as Twitter or Facebook has built a clearly hybrid communicative environment and profoundly transformed the organization of public debate. This is the case, especially, with processes such as the setting of the public agenda or the construction of interpretive frames. Based on a systematic review of the international reference literature (2011–2021), this article analyses the influence of social media on the evolution of framing studies. Moreover, specifically, the beginning of a new stage of digital development is contextualized, and a triple research impact is explored. The main contributions of the text are that it (1) identifies advances in the theoretical and empirical organization of these studies; (2) explores its reorientation of content towards a greater balance between the analysis of media and political frames; and (3) reviews the recent experimental development of effects studies. Finally, the main challenges for future research in this field are detailed. Full article
Review
Understanding Fake News Consumption: A Review
Soc. Sci. 2020, 9(10), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9100185 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 7911
Abstract
Combating the spread of fake news remains a difficult problem. For this reason, it is increasingly urgent to understand the phenomenon of fake news. This review aims to see why fake news is widely shared on social media and why some people believe [...] Read more.
Combating the spread of fake news remains a difficult problem. For this reason, it is increasingly urgent to understand the phenomenon of fake news. This review aims to see why fake news is widely shared on social media and why some people believe it. The presentation of its structure (from the images chosen, the format of the titles and the language used in the text) can explain the reasons for going viral and what factors are associated with the belief in fake news. We show that fake news explores all possible aspects to attract the reader’s attention, from the formation of the title to the language used throughout the body of the text. The proliferation and success of fake news are associated with its characteristics (more surreal, exaggerated, impressive, emotional, persuasive, clickbait, shocking images), which seem to be strategically thought out and exploited by the creators of fake news. This review shows that fake news continues to be widely shared and consumed because that is the main objective of its creators. Although some studies do not support these correlations, it appears that conservatives, right-wing people, the elderly and less educated people are more likely to believe and spread fake news. Full article
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