Social media posts as source for political news coverage inside and outside election campaigns: Examining effects on deliberative news media quality


Journalists increasingly cite and/or embed social media posts in news articles. While social media posts have been found to be of little deliberative quality, we do not know whether this also affects the deliberative quality of the news. Against the background of a hybrid media system and deliberative news media standards, we answer this research question with a content analysis of news articles including or not including posts from X (formerly Twitter) in the twelve widest-reaching German news websites prior and after the German general election 2021. We were particularly interested in the differences inside and outside election campaigns as the interdependence of the mass media and the political sphere is particularly pronounced during campaign periods. Results show that posts are more often cited and/or embedded in news articles inside than outside election campaigns. Articles including posts feature a greater number of actors but are not more diverse as mainly actors from the political center are referenced. Moreover, articles with posts are associated with a higher position responsiveness but on the other hand a decreased civility of the represented political discourse. This pattern only emerged inside but not outside campaign periods. These findings add to our understanding of contemporary hybrid media systems and the nature of political journalism during contentious political periods.

Dylan Paltra
Dylan Paltra
PhD Student

My research interests include political (online) behavior, political representation, political polarization, and computational social science.