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Herd Behavior in Mediatized Scandals - A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation

Applicant Hibberd Matthew
Number 159548
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Istituto Media e Giornalismo Facoltà di Scienze della comunicazione Università della Svizzera italiana
Institution of higher education Università della Svizzera italiana - USI
Main discipline Communication sciences
Start/End 01.02.2017 - 31.08.2019
Approved amount 222'050.00
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Keywords (5)

herd behavior; political journalism; newsroom convergence; comparative research; mixed methods

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die Newsroom-Konvergenz gehört zu den wichtigsten Entwicklungen in der Medienindustrie und verändert redaktionelle Ziele, Ressourcen und Strukturen. Das SNF Projekt untersucht deshalb, ob und wie sich die Newsroom-Konvergenz auf das Herdenverhalten von Politikjournalisten auswirkt.
Lay summary

Ziel und Inhalt des Forschungsprojekts
Das SNF-Projekt besteht aus zwei Studien. Die erste Studie untersucht, ob die Newsroom-Konvergenz das Herdenverhalten zwischen Politikjournalisten verändert. Die zweite Studie untersucht, wie das geschieht. Newsroom-Konvergenz meint, dass Print- und Online-Redaktionen zusammengelegt werden. Herdenverhalten ist ein Konzept, das von Standard- und Verhaltensökonomen entwickelt wurde. Hier bedeutet Herdenverhalten, dass sich Politikjournalisten gegenseitig imitieren. Das SNF-Projekt untersucht, inwieweit Politikjournalisten auf Themen aufspringen, die gegen Accuracy- und Privacy-Regeln von Presseräten verstossen. Daraus können sogenannte Issue Cycles, Media Hypes und Skandale entstehen.

Die erste Studie führt eine Inhaltsanalyse durch und untersucht die Berichterstattung vor und nach der Newsroom-Konvergenz. Untersucht werden konservative und liberale Qualitätszeitungen sowie  Boulevardzeitungen in der Deutschschweiz und in den UK. Pro Thema werden frühere und spätere Berichterstattungsphasen untersucht. Die zweite Studie wendet Interviews, Dokumentenanalysen und Beobachtungen an und misst, wie sich im Zuge der Newsroom-Konvergenz Ziele, Ressourcen und Strukturen des Politikjournalismus verändern und wie sich diese Veränderungen auf das Herdenverhalten auswirken.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext
Das SNF Projekt leistet einen Beitrag zu Forschungsbereichen, die sich mit Issue Cycles, Politikjournalismus, Newsroom-Konvergenz und/oder mit interdisziplinären Ansätzen beschäftigen, die Ökonomie und Kommunikationswissenschaft verknüpfen. Die Arbeit ist gesellschaftlich relevant, weil journalistisches Herdenverhalten auch Auswirkungen auf politische Entscheidungen haben kann.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 28.07.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Media use and life satisfaction: The moderating role of social events
Wilczek Bartosz (2018), Media use and life satisfaction: The moderating role of social events, in International Review of Economics, 65(2), 157-184.
Live blogging about terrorist attacks: The effects of competition and editorial strategy
Wilczek Bartosz, Blangetti Claudia (2017), Live blogging about terrorist attacks: The effects of competition and editorial strategy, in Digital Journalism, 6(3), 344-368.
Herd behaviour and path dependence in news markets: Towards an economic theory of scandal formation
Wilczek Bartosz (2017), Herd behaviour and path dependence in news markets: Towards an economic theory of scandal formation, in Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, 28(2), 137-167.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Annual Conference of the European Media Management Association (EMMA) Talk given at a conference Misinformation cascades in news markets: A cross-national investigation of the diffusion of inaccurate information in political and business journalism 04.06.2020 Jönköping, Sweden Wilczek Bartosz;
Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) Talk given at a conference Contagious accuracy norm violation in political journalism: A cross-national investigation of how news media publish political misinformation 20.05.2020 Gold Coast (paper accepted; canceled due to COVID-19), Australia Wilczek Bartosz;
World Media Economics and Management Conference (WMEMC) Talk given at a conference Contagious accuracy norm violation in political journalism: A cross-national investigation of how news media publish political misinformation 20.05.2020 Rome (paper accepted; canceled due to COVID-19), Italy Wilczek Bartosz;
Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) Talk given at a conference Media use and life satisfaction: The moderating role of social events 24.05.2018 Prague, Czech Republic Wilczek Bartosz;
World Media Economics and Management Conference (WMEMC) Talk given at a conference Live blogging about terrorist attacks: The effects of competition and editorial strategy 06.05.2018 Cape Town, South Africa Wilczek Bartosz;
Lecture Series on Media Hypes at the University of Münster Individual talk Drivers and constraints of herd behavior in news markets 06.12.2017 Münster, Germany Wilczek Bartosz;
Annual Conference of the Swiss Association of Communication and Media Research (SGKM) Talk given at a conference Path dependence and herd behavior in news markets 27.04.2017 Bern, Switzerland Wilczek Bartosz;


Abstract

This SNF project is the center of our research focus entitled "herd behavior in news markets". It investigates communication phenomena that economists coin as herd behavior (e.g., Bikhchandani & Sharma, 2000; Keuschnigg, 2012) or cascades (e.g., Bikhchandani, Hirshleifer & Welch, 1992; Kuran & Sunstein, 1999). This SNF project consists of two interrelated studies and investigates if (STUDY 1) and how (STUDY 2) newsroom convergence affects herd behavior among journalists. Newsroom convergence refers to the integration of print and online newsrooms in media companies and has been a major trend in the media industry (e.g., García-Avilés, Kaltenbrunner & Meier, 2014; Wilczek, 2016a). Herd behavior means that journalists imitate each other's decisions related to the allocation of attention towards issues and news frames (e.g., Fengler & Russ-Mohl, 2005; Russ-Mohl, 2014; Wilczek, 2016b). Thus, herd behavior among journalists refers to communication phenomena such as issue attention cycles (Downs, 1972), media hypes (Vasterman, 2005) and scandals (Thompson, 2000; Eisenegger, 2005; Kepplinger, 2012). STUDY 1: Newsroom convergence is the independent variable. Editorial decision-making related to the allocation of attention towards political issues and news frames is the dependent variable. We investigate if and to what extent journalists apply herd behavior. This means that journalists cover political news in a way that contradicts specific rules of press councils or press complaints commissions, i.e., accuracy and privacy. We control for the competition in news markets and compare the UK news market with the Swiss German news market. We control for the newsroom culture and investigate in each news market a conservative quality newspaper, a liberal quality newspaper and a tabloid. We also control for specific features of the issue cycles. We control for the type of first mover (quality outlet vs. tabloid). We control for the degree of uncertainty (earlier vs. later phases of the issue cycles). And we control for the type of issue (low vs. high prominence). STUDY 1 applies a quasi-experimental design. In each news market, it investigates the political news coverage of three newspapers (conservative quality, liberal quality, tabloid) before they converged their newsrooms and after they converged their newsrooms. Each time frame consists of several years. And in each time frame we will investigate the news coverage related to all political issues that have violated rules concerning accuracy and/or privacy. We will measure the dependent variable based on a set of indicators and we will conceptualize a "herd behavior"-index. This will allow us to analyze the data using specific statistical methods.STUDY 2: Newsroom convergence is the independent variable. However, in this study, we will open up the black box and investigate how the editorial strategy has changed during newsroom convergence and how this, in turn, has affected the dependent variable. Results from STUDY 1 build the dependent variable. STUDY 2 applies a process tracing approach and conducts in-depth-interviews, document analyses and observations. It will apply pattern-matching to analyze the data.This SNF project contributes to research concerned with issue attention cycles and related communication phenomena, with political journalism, with newsroom convergence and with interdisciplinary approaches that fuse economics with communication science.
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