Article: article from journal or magazin.
The Fairness of Media Coverage in Question: An Analysis of Referendum Campaigns on Welfare State Issues in Switzerland
Swiss Political Science Review
The mass media are assigned an important role in political campaigns on popular votes. This article asks how the press communicates political issues to citizens during referendum campaigns, and whether some minimal criteria for successful public deliberation are met. The press coverage of all 24 ballot votes on welfare state issues from 1995 to 2004 in Switzerland is examined, distinguishing seven criteria to judge how news coverage compares to idealized notions of the media's role in the democratic process: coverage intensity, time for public deliberation, balance in media coverage, source independence and inclusiveness, substantive coverage, and spatial homogeneity. The results of our quantitative analysis suggest that the press does fulfil these normative requirements to a reasonable extent and that fears about biased or deceitful media treatment of ballot issues are not well-founded. However, some potential for optimizing the coverage of referendum campaigns by the Swiss press does exist
Referendum campaigns, Media fairness, Press coverage, Welfare state, Switzerland
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