Negativity Bias and Political Parallelism During an Election Campaign

By: Burcu Ceren Hoff   Verena Pagels   Armin Rott  

Turkey`s 2015 and 2018 general elections took place in a context in which media power was highly instrumentalized. As part of a worldwide trend, media had a growing role in the election campaign and media tools became principal instruments of the political communication. The goal of this study is to analyze the potential link between news bias and political parallelism and correlate it with the ownership patterns of the Turkish press. The study makes use of the literature on media economy and political economy of the news media in explaining biased reporting. A method of quantitative media content analysis is adopted and front pages of six newspapers are selected for the coding. The results showed a significant relationship between negativity and partisanship. We found out that newspapers did not go negative to all directions; instead, they were more negative toward the opponent and more positive toward their endorsed party. We also identified that “attacking others” was how the sample newspapers supported their endorsed party. Next, we investigated the impact of the ownership structures on the coexistence between negativity and partisanship. Although there were no significant relationships between negativity and ownership, newspapers appeared to be either pro-incumbent or pro-challenger depending on their ownership structures. We offered possible explanations considering the incentives internal to the media firms, thus revealed the explanatory power of the organizational ties between the media outlets and parties, profit considerations, and direct political and ideological preferences.

Content Analysis, Negativity Bias, Partisanship, Media, Ownership, Turkey
Media Business
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Burcu Ceren Hoff

research assistant, Economics, University of Hamburg, Germany

Verena Pagels

research assistant, University of Hamburg, Germany

Armin Rott

Professor, University of Hamburg, Germany