Political leaders and the media. Can we measure political leadership images in newspapers using computer-assisted content analysis?

Loes Aaldering*, Rens Vliegenthart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite the large amount of research into both media coverage of politics as well as political leadership, surprisingly little research has been devoted to the ways political leaders are discussed in the media. This paper studies whether computer-aided content analysis can be applied in examining political leadership images in Dutch newspaper articles. It, firstly, provides a conceptualization of political leader character traits that integrates different perspectives in the literature. Moreover, this paper measures twelve political leadership images in media coverage, based on a large-scale computer-assisted content analysis of Dutch media coverage (including almost 150.000 newspaper articles), and systematically tests the quality of the employed measurement instrument by assessing the relationship between the images, the variance in the measurement, the over-time development of images for two party leaders and by comparing the computer results with manual coding. We conclude that the computerized content analysis provides a valid measurement for the leadership images in Dutch newspapers. Moreover, we find that the dimensions political craftsmanship, vigorousness, integrity, communicative performances and consistency are regularly applied in discussing party leaders, but that portrayal of party leaders in terms of responsiveness is almost completely absent in Dutch newspapers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1871-1905
Number of pages35
JournalQuality and Quantity
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Computer-assisted content analysis
  • Measurement instrument
  • Political leadership images
  • Political media coverage

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