Candidate and party bias in the news and its effects on party choice: Evidence from Austria

Günther Lengauer, David Johann


This paper investigates the impact of exposure to actor-related news bias on party choice in the 2008 Austrian elections. More specifically, this work introduces relative and relational measures of party and candidate biases in electoral reporting and outlines their effects on vote choice. The applied integrative understanding of party and candidate bias in the news, combining visibility and valence, results in a single measure classifying parties and party leaders in media-outlet-specific bias spectra. To measure bias exposure effects on party choice, the candidate and party bias levels in each newspaper are weighted with the individual exposure to these papers. This study rests on the analytical linkage between a media content analysis of Austrian daily newspapers and a representative post-election survey. Firstly, this investigation shows that the Austrian newspaper coverage is characterized by clear, not uniform but rather outlet-specific, biases toward parties and their leaders. Above all, the tabloid press primarily focuses on a strong polarization and duelization regarding the parties and the leaders contesting for chancellorship. Secondly, in a case study investigating the effects of news bias exposure on party choice regarding the governing parties, we find a positive relation between high exposure to advantageous party and candidate biases in newspapers and the probability to vote for the respective party.


Media bias; Media effects; Party choiceVoting behavior; Media coverag; eElection news; Content analysis


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Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896