ARTICLE: Public service news are more diverse than commercial

Untitled by PIRO4D, licence CC0 1.0

News published online by public service broadcasters provide more diversity than news published by other types of news organisations, Edda Humprecht and Frank Esser, both of University of Zurich, write. The authors analysed 1 660 political news articles, published by 48 news organisations in six countries: United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland.

The authors analysed the sample from three angles: diversity of viewpoints, diversity of political actors, and geographical diversity. These diversity scores were then compared across countries and ownership types (e.g. public service broadcasters and corporate owned newspapers).

The news from public service broadcasters were found to be the most diverse in geographical terms. PSB news were also the second most diverse in actor diversity (surpassed by online native news websites) and viewpoint diversity (surpassed by private broadcasters and on par with “independent” media outlets).

The analysis also revealed interesting differences between countries. For example, news from both German and British outlets have high actor diversity, while Italy and Switzerland (and to a lesser extent, the UK) excel in geographical diversity. French news, then, are most diverse in terms of viewpoints presented. Lastly, American news are the least diverse on all three measures.

The differences between countries are likely due to their different political systems and conceptions of the public sphere, the authors suggest. For example, representative systems such as Germany and the UK require various political actors to have access to publicity – at least more so than in president-led systems like those of the US and France.

The article “Diversity in Online News” was published by the journal Journalism Studies. It is available online (abstract free).

Picture: Untitled by PIRO4D, licence CC0 1.0.

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