Comparing News on National Elections

Authored by: Frank Esser , Jesper Strömbäck

Handbook of Comparative Communication Research

Print publication date:  April  2012
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415802710
eBook ISBN: 9780203149102
Adobe ISBN: 9781136514241


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National election campaigns are popular units of analysis in comparative communication research. They fulfill the important criterion of functional equivalence, as across all democracies elections provide voters with comparable opportunities to make political choices, facilitate the representative process, and provide legitimacy for the regime. They are also relevant units of comparison. Of all recurring political events that receive intense media attention, election campaigns have the most significant implications. Election campaigns are also practical units of comparison in that they have a clear starting and ending point and are mostly scheduled far ahead of time. This makes research easier to plan, particularly if it has to be carried out in different settings with identical designs. Finally, election campaigns can be considered prototypical events in which national political communication traditions crystallize, and latent properties come to the fore as if held under a microscope.

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