Fake Media and Trump's Image in the Presidential Election of 2016

By: Elisa Kannasto   Ari Haasio  

In this study, we look at the ways one fake media website, "Newspunch," portrayed Donald Trump prior to the presidential election 2016 in the United States. The data were collected between Trump’s candidacy announcement and the election day and consisted of 310 news articles collected during 516 days. The data were analyzed using content analysis. The content was coded into categories to show the issues and characteristics that were used to construct Trump’s online identity, the self presentation portrayed of Trump online. For this process, a model for analyzing the secondary construction, i. e. the construction built by an outside institution, of online identity was created. Several different ways to construct a political candidate’s online identity were found. Personal facts, like Trump’s origin, age, and family were left with very little attention. Instead, emphasis was placed on certain policies, like opposing Muslims and Mexicans, highlighting Trump’s reputation, wealth, and the use of controversial rhetoric and his behavior and rhetoric towards women. Also, Trump’s relation and connections with other politicians and celebrities were discussed widely. Trump’s lack of expertise in political issues was highlighted and different ways, including comments about his looks, entertainment world, and assassination speculations, were used to ridicule him. Understanding how fake media constructs a politician’s online identity helps in developing media literacy because it provides insight into approaching these types of media and their news.

Fake Media Election
Media Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Elisa Kannasto

Lecturer, Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, United States
-, United States

PhD student in the University of Vaasa department of Marketing and Communications. Lecturer of Communication in the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences.

Ari Haasio

-, -, University of Tampere