New Article on Dual Screening, Public Service Broadcasting, and Political Participation

The International Journal of Press/Politics has just published a new article that I coauthored with Augusto Valeriani on the relationship between dual screening and political participation across eight Western democracies (Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States).

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In this article, we make three contributions.

First, we find that political dual screening — that is, combining television and social media in attending to and engaging with political issues and events — has a strong positive association with political participation, which we define and measure by including both face-to-face and online behaviors aiming at influencing public officials, elections, and other citizens’ opinions. This contribution builds on previous work on the UK case that I did with Andrew Chadwick and Ben O’Loughlin.

Second, we show that the positive relationship between dual screening and participation is relatively stronger among citizens with low levels of interest in politics than among citizens with high levels of interest in politics. In other words, political dual screening may contribute to closing the participation gap between low- and high-interest voters.

Third, the relationship between political dual screening and participation is stronger in countries with strong Public Service Broadcasters (Denmark, Germany, and the UK in our study) than in countries with medium PSBs (Italy, Greece, Poland, Spain) and in countries with weak PSBs (the United States). Thus, we argue, the combination of television and social media may be helping Public Service Media perform one of their key functions of keeping citizens involved in politics.

Here is the full abstract.

We investigate the relationship between political dual screening—that is, watching political contents on television while reading and commenting on them on social media—and political participation across eight Western democracies: Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Based on custom built online surveys conducted between 2015 and 2016 on samples representative of the adult population with internet access in each country, we test hypotheses on both intra-country and cross-country direct and differential effects of political dual screening on various forms of offline and online political participation. We find a positive correlation between the frequency with which citizens dual screen political content and their overall levels of participation. Such correlation is stronger among respondents with lower levels of interest in politics, suggesting that dual screening has the potential to bridge participatory gaps between citizens who are more and less politically involved. The relationship between dual screening and participation is also significantly stronger in countries whose media systems feature the strongest Public Service Broadcasters. Our findings suggest that dual screening makes a positive contribution to democratic citizenship and political equality, and that it can also help public service media fulfill some of their key functions.

If you are interested in the article or have any questions, please get in touch!

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