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The U.S. 2016 Elections in the News: The Whole World is Watching

Sun, May 28, 15:30 to 16:45, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 3, Aqua Salon D


The 2016 U.S. presidential election has become, in line with previous presidential elections, a major political event garnering extensive media coverage in countries all over the world. This coverage provides political communication scholars with a unique opportunity to study how country differences influence the production of political news of the same ‘international’ event. Although campaign research is flourishing, it is striking how little we know about how such coverage differs between countries, especially since scholars agree that analyzing country variation is crucial to fully understand the production of election media coverage. In a previous study we showed how newspapers in eight European countries covered the historic Obama-McCain campaign in 2008. Among other findings, this study showed that country differences in terms of public opinion towards the U.S. influenced how the campaign was covered (Vliegenthart, et al., 2010). In this paper we replicate and extend the 2008 study by comparing news coverage across time and space. We will examine how U.S. newspapers covered the 2016 campaign in comparison to the press in several Western European countries and focus on the main news characteristics that are commonly researched in campaign media studies: salience, tone towards the main candidates and framing.