Hartmut Wessler, Eike Mark Rinke
Deliberative strengths and weaknesses in television news: Insights from the US, Germany, and Russia

63rd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, London, June 17th to June 21st, 2013

The functions that television news performs in the deliberative system are as yet poorly understood. Drawing on a content analysis of television news in ten systematically selected channels based in the U.S., Germany and Russia, the paper identifies best and worst performers on 13 criteria of deliberativeness and analyzes the deliberative profile of each news show. Three groups of news programs are identified using multiple correspondence analysis. The resulting patterns are explained by reference to different types of democracy, different organizational forms as well as different news formats. The deliberativeness of television news is higher in established democracies, but does not differ greatly between a majoritarian and a consensus system. Deliberativeness is also higher in public-service channels, nonpartisan programs, and focused in-depth news shows. While national television news cultures clearly exert an influence on deliberativeness, individual channels in the U.S. (Fox, CNN) and Russia (REN) cut across the national patterns.