This paper explores the dynamics of (dis)trust among experts, journalists, and audiences through the case study of an inaccurate exit poll aired on a leading Israeli television channel. It combines empirical data from the Israeli April 2019 elections with a conceptual view of exit polls as both sources of information and national rituals to address public discourse on the polls and its underlying suspicions. A multi-method approach yielded a corpus consisting of focus groups with citizens, in-depth semi-structured interviews with journalists, pollsters and experts, and qualitative textual analysis of news reports. Using inductive-qualitative analysis, we identified three types of public narratives, each casting blame for the erroneous exit poll projection on a different type of actor. The statistical and biased-media narratives tally with declining trust in the news media and assume misbehavior by pollsters and news creators respectively. The deception narrative, on the other hand, suggests that right-wing voters systematically sabotaged the exit poll projections. By extending trust beyond journalistic information, this narrative foregrounds the cultural meaning of election night rituals. Taken together, the narratives found in this study delineate (dis)trust as an interplay of active participants in the creation, reception, and interpretation of news. Our findings thus touch upon key attitudes towards both media and democracy and have implications for further studies on collective rituals and information evaluations in an era of eroding trust.
Large infrastructure schemes have become part of our landscape. Their controversial nature often requires elaborate justifications including the use of intangible benefits. One intangible benefit that has increasingly been raised in support of mega-projects is the peace dividend. Yet, to date, few studies have systematically addressed the following questions: to what extent, by whom, and in what ways is the peace dividend used as a strategic tool when it comes to justifying contested mega-projects? This article examines the use of different types of arguments in mega-project justification, with a focus on the peace dividend as a political intangible benefit. Through a comparative content analysis of coverage of the Dead Sea-Red Sea Canal project in Israeli and Jordanian news media, we illustrate how the peace dividend is employed as a framing device by both project supporters and opponents and how it is positioned in relation to other types of benefits and costs. We found that the marketing of contested mega-projects to public and political constituencies entails a variety of justifications, reflected in the various framing modes used to influence public opinion in both Israel and Jordan. The nature and intensity of these justifications are sensitive to the media environment and the degree of economic development. Our findings indicate that the peace dividend as a line of defense for the project is the most controversial of all other justification domains.
Despite growing attention to notions of (dis)trust in both journalism studies and conflict studies, the role of suspicion and distrust in the dynamics of conflict coverage has not yet been investigated. This paper explores the various aspects of suspicion in the perceptions of journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, drawing on twenty in-depth interviews with journalists and an interdisciplinary approach to the conceptualization of suspicion and (dis)trust. An inductive-qualitative analysis of journalists’ narratives identified three main aspects: suspicion of information sources, suspicion of peer journalists, and awareness of being under suspicion. The study demonstrates that through all stages of news production, journalists operate within a perpetual context of suspicion despite being required to generate trust. This dilemma culminates in hostile environments, where journalists must trust their sources in order to ensure their physical security yet are professionally required to epistemically suspect the information delivered by these same sources. Taken together, the manifestations of suspicion identified in this study provide an analytical framework for understanding (dis)trust within journalism and for further studying the processes through which these manifestations can contribute to public trust in both the media and conflict parties.
Over the past few decades, numerous studies have examined the question of whether women and men tend to use different communicative styles, strategies, and practices. In this study, we employed a high-resolution algorithmic approach to examine the role of gender in structuring conflict news discourse, focusing on a comparison between the texts produced by foreign and domestic women and men journalists in their coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Extracting recurrent semantic patterns from over 80,000 texts, we show that women and men journalists tend to interpret journalistic professionalism in slightly different ways: While women emphasize precision and professional distance, men focus more on certitude and providing orientation. Moreover, women journalists tend to give more centrality to various groups of people in their coverage. We discuss these findings in the context of scholarship on gender and language use, journalism, and conflict.
While the centrality of Facebook as a political arena has been widely acknowledged, only scant attention has been given to what makes some political posts more successful than others. Addressing this gap, we analyzed a corpus of political posts written by diverse political actors in Israel. We explored, in particular, two main groups of factors that have been associated with major attributes of Facebook usage: content engagement and self-presentation. The analysis yielded a model of six features that promote the success of a political post: implied emotions, humor, first person, self-exposure, personal stance, and anger-evoking cues. We also identified differences in successful posts written by right-wing and left-wing actors; while humor was found to be a significant predictor of success only in left-wing posts, references to an out-group are associated with success only in right-wing ones. Overall, the findings showed that attributes of self-presentation are strongly linked to the success of political posts.
Although populist communication has become pervasive throughout Europe, many important questions on its political consequences remain unanswered. First, previous research has neglected the differential effects of populist communication on the Left and Right. Second, internationally comparative studies are missing. Finally, previous research mostly studied attitudinal outcomes, neglecting behavioral effects. To address these key issues, this paper draws on a unique, extensive, and comparative experiment in sixteen European countries (N = 15,412) to test the effects of populist communication on political engagement. The findings show that anti-elitist populism has the strongest mobilizing effects, and anti-immigrant messages have the strongest demobilizing effects. Moreover, national conditions such as the level of unemployment and the electoral success of the populist Left and Right condition the impact of populist communication. These findings provide important insights into the persuasiveness of populist messages spread throughout the European continent.
In the scholarly debate, ideals of original reporting are commonly contrasted against the churnalistic reproduction of source content. However, most news making lies between these poles: Journalists rely on but transform the available source material, renegotiating its original meaning. In this article, we define journalistic transformation as those interventions journalists make in their use of third-party textual material in the pursuit of crafting a news story. Journalists (1) select contents from available source texts, (2) position these contents, (3) augment them with further information, and (4) arrange all to craft characteristic news narratives. To investigate journalistic transformation practices, we compare source materials used in the news (e.g. press releases, speeches) to the resulting Israeli, Palestinian, and international coverage of the abduction and murder of four youths in summer 2014. We identify five kinds of journalistic transformation – evaluative, political, cultural, emotive, and professional – each of which actualizes a different journalistic function and contributes to rendering the news relevant to the respective audiences in distinct ways.
In the production of news, the frames presented by selected sources play a critical role. However, to create coherent, authoritative, and relevant news stories from the selected input, journalists need to actively transform the available material and fit it within a journalistic news frame. In our study, we investigate how Israeli, Palestinian, and foreign (US, UK, German) newspapers made use of highly salient source statements in their coverage of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli and one Palestinian teenager in summer 2014. Performing a qualitative analysis, we identify three characteristic ways in which journalists reposition selected sources’ frames within their coverage: journalists can rely on selected source frames to present specific, subjective viewpoints; they can present multiple source frames as testimonies about newsworthy events; and they can interpret them as communicative actions in sources’ struggle for recognition in the public arena. Each strategy contributes to the construction of a different, broad class of news frames, reflecting different journalistic styles and norms. We discuss implications for the study of news frames and the different roles of political sources within the news.
News coverage of the same events is simultaneously driven by homogenizing and heterogenizing influences. In this paper, we assess whether and when conflict news in different media become more similar or dissimilar by analyzing the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 13 leading Israeli, Palestinian, and international media over almost 10 years. We distinguish between drivers of enduring similarity, gradual convergence and temporary (dis-)alignments in the news, and relate them to the detected concept association patterns in over 200,000 news texts. We find a slow, context-dependent convergence trend in the news, and temporary alignments and dis-alignments in interpretation in response to major conflict events. Discussing the underlying, interacting influences, the study highlights implications for investigating current transformations in global journalism.
The trends of media personalization and intimization, alongside the growing recognition of the intricate relationship between the private and public spheres, raise complex questions about the ways in which politicians’ private lives are linked to the political realm. This article develops the term politically relevant intimacy, referring to texts in which matters of the public sphere are being tied to the discourse surrounding politicians’ personal lives. We identify two major types of political relevance—issue based and conduct based—and apply this framework to a comparative analysis of mediated manifestations of politicians’ intimate lives in Israel and the United States. Differences in level and type of politically relevant intimacy are found between news coverage and Facebook posts, as well as between the two countries. No significant differences are found between female and male politicians. We discuss implications for future research and for the citizenry in democracies.
This article proposes a nuanced analysis of the temporal spectrum in news narratives, beyond the three conventional temporal orientations (past-present-future), thus affording a more complex understanding of journalism and its varied storytelling patterns. Combining qualitative and quantitative content analysis of print and online news items in the United States and Israel, this framework is used to evaluate and compare different journalistic cultures and media technologies in relation to public time. Based on hierarchical cluster analysis, the article offers a definition for “news” which associates between 5 clusters of temporal layers and different journalistic roles: updating (present and immediate past/future), reporting (recent past), contextualization and ritualistic functions (midrange to distant past), analysis (near future), and projection (far/conjectured future).