Young and first-time voters play a pivotal role in election results. While some show up to vote, others are not interested in the elections. In such situations the mass media is likely to play an important role in informing the voters about issues relating to the elections and encouraging to cast their votes.
Judith Moeller, a postdoctoral researcher, and Rinaldo Kühne, assistant professor in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research at the University of Amsterdam, and Claes H. De Vreese, professor and chair of political communication at the same university, investigated the impact of news media exposure on electoral participation of first-time voters.
The researchers conducted a panel survey with 994 participants in the Netherlands and a content analysis of the news published in some Dutch newspapers.
The content analysis of the news coverage in the period leading up to the European Parliamentary election in 2014 revealed that there was generally very little information about youth-related topics in the EU context. In the first two months of the election campaign, only two and three youth-relevant news items were published. In the third month, the number increased to eight items, only to fall back to two items in the fourth month. In the last two months of the campaign, the numbers increased to 10 and 21 youth relevant news items.
The authors also found that exposure to relevant news contributed to a higher likelihood of turnout. Yet, at the same time there was a remarkable gap of relevant news in the coverage about the EU. The absence of young voters at the voting booth could therefore partially be explained by the fact that relevant news for young voters was virtually invisible in the six months leading up to the elections.
Furthermore, seeing or reading the news in traditional news media, such as newspapers or TV news, did not have a consistent effect on youths’ voting behavior. In contrast, digital news use was found to significantly influence political participation.
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2IawhAa
Moeller, J., Kühne, R., & De Vreese, C. (2018). Mobilizing youth in the 21st century: How digital media use fosters civic duty, information efficacy, and political participation. Journal of broadcasting & electronic media, 62(3), 445-460.