I am currently working on an argument / talk / paper entitled The Increasing Viability of Good News. The most recent iteration will come in the form of an online presentation to the Hot Politics Lab (PIs, Gijs Schumacher, Matthijs Rooduijn , and Bert Bakker) in March 2020. The abstract is as follows:
News coverage of politics is overwhelmingly negative. In this talk, I consider the possibility of a shift towards more positive coverage based on (a) heterogeneity in the ways in which humans prioritize and process information and (b) changes in the technology used to disseminate and share news content. I highlight recent findings in work on cross-national psychophysiological experiments and online games capturing biases in attentiveness and learning, as well as automated content analyses of news content disseminated through different media platforms. Results highlight the increasing potential for political news coverage that is less systematically negative. This may be of real importance, not just for the content of political news but for citizens’ attitudes about media, candidates, politics and policy.
For those interested, I include the work on which the talk is based alongside the general argument, below. The talk, recorded by the Hot Politics Lab, is available below as well.
Do changes in media competition and user-curated content mean that current affairs news will be endlessly sensationalistic & negative?
No, (1) because valence-based asymmetries vary over time.
- PJ Lamberson and Stuart Soroka. 2018. “A Model of Attentiveness to Outlying News,” Journal of Communication 68(5): 942-964.
No, (2) because valence-based asymmetries vary across individuals.
- Stuart Soroka, Patrick Fournier, and Lilach Nir. 2019. “Cross-national evidence of a negativity bias in psychophysiological reactions to news,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 116 (38) 18888-18892.
- Also see:
- Patrick Fournier, Stuart Soroka and Lilach Nir. N.d. “Negativity Biases and Political Ideology: A Comparative Test Across 17 Countries,” forthcoming in the American Political Science Review.
- Stuart Soroka, Patrick Fournier, Lilach Nir and John Hibbing. 2019. “Psychophysiology in the Study of Political Communication: An Expository Study of Individual-Level Variation in Negativity Biases,” Political Communication 26(2): 288-302.
- Sarah Bachleda, Fabian Neuner, Stuart Soroka, Lauren Guggenheim, Patrick Fournier and Elin Naurin. 2020. “Individual-level differences in negativity biases in news selection.” Personality and Individual Differences 155(1): 109675.
- Stuart Soroka, Lauren Guggenheim & Dominic Valentino. N.d. Hot Rod: Using an Online Racecar Game to Examine Valence-Based Biases in News Selection.
No, (3) because technological change facilitates diverse news platforms catering to diverse preferences.
- Patrick Kraft, Yanna Krupnikov, Kerri Milita, John Ryan and Stuart Soroka. N.d. “Social Media and the Changing Information Environment: Sentiment Differences in Read versus Re-Circulated News Content,” forthcoming in Public Opinion Quarterly.
- Also see:
- Stuart Soroka, Mark Daku, Dan Hiaeshutter-Rice, Lauren Guggenheim and Josh Pasek. 2017. “Negativity and Positivity Biases in Economic News Coverage: Traditional Versus Social Media.” Communication Research 45(7): 1078-1098.