alexa The spiral of cynicism reconsidered.
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

Author(s): Claes H de Vreese

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Public debate about and scholarly enquiry into the relationship between news media and political attitudes tend to highlight negative aspects. Research has shown that strategic news coverage focusing on politicians’ motives and style rather than content and policies fuels political cynicism. This has been dubbed the ‘spiral of cynicism’. This study, drawing on two-wave panel surveys and content analyses of news media in two countries, challenges this perspective. The negative effects of news on cynicism are contingent upon the level of strategy reporting in the news. Moreover, political sophistication is positively related to cynicism, suggesting that cynicism is perhaps little more than an indication of an ‘interested and critical citizenry’. Finally, when the assumption that cynicism is detrimental to political participation is evaluated, there is in fact little empirical evidence to support a link between cynicism and voter turnout.

This article was published in European Journal of Communication 20: 283-301. and referenced in Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

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