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Election WatchdogsTransparency, Accountability and Integrity$
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Pippa Norris and Alessandro Nai

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190677800

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190677800.001.0001

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The Fourth Estate

The Fourth Estate

(p.191) 10 The Fourth Estate
Election Watchdogs

Alessandro Nai

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the quality of election coverage by the traditional news media. It describes a hierarchical model of influences that is expected to shape the fairness of election coverage. These operate at three levels: the political and social structure, the media market, and the journalistic culture. The chapter shows that the fairness of election coverage is lower when the content of information is distorted by pressures from exogenous actors such as politicians and pressure groups, when the media market faces a hypercommercialization, and when journalists see their role redefined toward infotainment journalism that creates the conditions for a strong shift toward soft news. On the other hand, the quality of elections coverage by traditional news media is higher when media outlets are dispersed across multiple and competitive institutions, which promotes inclusiveness and sets up safeguards against the emergence of media oligopolies.

Keywords:   election coverage, traditional news media, political journalism, media market, journalistic culture

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