Personalized News from the European Parliament and its Consequences for Democratic Participation

Note short: 
19.11.2018 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Prof. Katjana Gattermann
Lecturer affiliation: 
Universität Amsterdam

Despite growing research into the personalization of political news, we still know relatively little about the effects of such personalized political news on citizen awareness, attitudes and behaviour. This paper addresses this lacuna by examining the effects of personalized news in the context of a low-information environment, namely European Union (EU) politics, which generally receive less attention in national media compared to domestic politics. Accordingly, citizens have comparatively little information which affects their political behaviour. The purpose of this manuscript is to investigate the direct and conditional effects of personalized news items on political efficacy in the context of EU politics, intention to take part in EU elections, and political awareness, as measured by information recognition. Personalized news is operationalized as individualized news, i.e. as focus on individual Members of the European Parliament (EP) at the expense of the EP as more abstract EU political institution. The paper relies on a novel research design, namely a cross-country comparative survey experiment that was pre-registered and conducted with respondents from online panels in Ireland, the Netherlands, and Italy. The manipulation check was successful in all samples, but the findings suggest that there was no direct effect of individualized news content about the EP on external political efficacy, information recognition, and intention to take part in the upcoming EP elections across all country samples. Yet, there are moderating effects of political interest in EU affairs, internal political efficacy and support for EU integration on external political efficacy, which additionally vary across country. The moderating effects do not make a difference for information recognition, and the extent of information recognition does not vary across samples. Overall, the findings have implications for media effects research on the personalization of politics, and the study design represents a methodological contribution to comparative political communication.