Diagnosing the media: populist framing and its reflection in voters

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Media organizations and their journalists play an important role in contemporary democracies as a fourth estate, watchdogs, and representatives. Large-scale distrust in them may be particularly harmful, as it can drive people towards less trustworthy information that is relevant for political decision-making and may even lead certain individuals to threaten journalists. Meanwhile such distrust is being observed increasingly more in the Netherlands. In this thesis I am interested in the research question which asks if populist rhetoric incites negative perceptions of media. In order to come closer to answering this question, I come to a mixed methods research. I build heavily upon literature regarding frames and I make use of a conception of populism as a discursive frame. The first hypothesis tests the assumption that populist leaders do indeed frame media negatively. This is done utilizing a qualitative content analysis of Dutch parliamentarians on Twitter. The second hypothesis is regarding the degree to which voters have such a negative perception of media. Connecting these two hypotheses, I can shed a light on whether the parliamentarians’ framing of media has an impact on the voters’ perception of media. I find that PVV and FvD parliamentarians do frame media negatively on Twitter, while JA21 and SP do not. Additionally, I find that PVV, FvD, and JA21 voters have a more negative perception of media.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen