Xiaoquan Zhao, Justin Rolfe-Redding & John E Kotcher
The effects of news media on public opinion about global warming have been a topic of much interest in both academic and popular discourse. Empirical evidence in this regard, however, is still limited and somewhat mixed. This study used data from the 2006 General Social Survey in combination with a content analysis of newspaper coverage of the same time period to examine the relationship between general news climate and public concern about global warming. Results showed a pattern of political polarization, with increased coverage associated with growing divergence between Democrats and Republicans. Further analysis also showed evidence of reactivity in partisan response to coverage from different news outlets. These findings point to a particular form of politically motivated, biased processing of news information.
Federico Neresini, Andrea Lorenzet
Is it possible to infer information about public opinion by looking at how the media discuss controversial technoscientific public issues? We conduct content analysis on media coverage of nuclear power in Italy in the years 1992–2012 and compare it with longitudinal public opinion surveys. By treating a large amount of textual data and applying an innovative methodology based on indicators of the presence of ‘risky terms’, that is, keywords referring to the issue of risk and danger, very high correlation has been found between media discourse on risk and opposition within public opinion. The analysis is conducted testing as a preliminary step Mazur’s hypothesis on quantity of coverage and opposition towards controversial technoscience. Then, risk content measures are used in order to gain stronger correlations between media and public attitudes towards nuclear power.
Mathew D. Marques
This research examined public opinion toward genetically modified plants and animals for food, and how trust in organizations and media coverage explained attitudes toward these organisms. Nationally representative samples (N = 8821) over 10 years showed Australians were less positive toward genetically modified animals compared to genetically modified plants for food, especially in years where media coverage was high. Structural equation modeling found that positive attitudes toward different genetically modified organisms for food were significantly associated with higher trust in scientists and regulators (e.g. governments), and with lower trust in watchdogs (e.g. environmental movement). Public trust in scientists and watchdogs was a stronger predictor of attitudes toward the use of genetically modified plants for food than animals, but only when media coverage was low. Results are discussed regarding the moral acceptability of genetically modified organisms for food, the media’s role in shaping public opinion, and the role public trust in organizations has on attitudes toward genetically modified organisms.