Posted 12/6/2008 11:11 (#50) Subject: Study of online election coverage
I am interested in the use of web and broader types of new media technologies for campaigning during elections. In the 2004 European parliament elections a comparative study was conducted by Foot et al which attempted to archive and then analyse the electoral 'web sphere' for a number of countries in the campaign period. The results of this were published last year - Randolph Kluver, Nicholas Jankowski, Kirsten Foot, and Steven Schneider (Eds.), The Web and National Elections: A Comparative Study of Web Campaigning, New York: Routledge (2007). They used teams in each countries to identify the relevant actors and then capture and code their websites leading up to the election. I think a similar exercise would be a vital part of the EP election study since the internet is now becoming mainstream as a communications media and candidates are using it to increasingly significant effect - note the efforts by Obama and particularly his supporters to exploit youtube and build micro-networks of support through facebook and raise funds. These were copied in the Australian elections of 2007 to a degree and the French Presidential election last year was also seen as particularly significant in moving forward online campaigning by candidates.
What has changed really since 2004 (as shown by these recent examples) is the expansion in user-generated content - so in addition to coding websites of parties and the elite level side one would need to consider incorporating some element of 'unofficial' campaigning online - which is possibly one of the most interesting areas. Also online news coverage by blogs as well as mainstream media will inevitably play a bigger role.
In order to get this to work there would need to be some coordination and management to agree on the methodologies to be applied, what actors would need to be included and how far in advance of the election they would be studied. Also consideration would need to be given to storage and archiving of election sites. The Pandora project by the National Library of Australia provides a good example of this. http://pandora.nla.gov.au/
Perhaps if resources were not available for the coding of sites then at least a capture and storage of the relevant sites by country experts would be possible that could then be made available for post-election analysis. Agreement would then need to be reached on the sites to be included. There are now hyperlink mapping tools that can be used to explore and identify relevant sites and so the location of relevant material could be done in an automated way.
Overall, then I would like to draw the Piredeu team's attention to the possibilities for a 'new media study' and its utility for the overall project.
Posted 16/7/2008 17:31 (#113 - in reply to #50) Subject: RE: Study of online election coverage
Location: University of Oxford, UK
Dear Professor Gibson,
Thank you for submitting this proposal to the Open Forum. The PIREDEU Steering Committee met at the end of June to evaluate each of the proposals. We assessed them on the basis of whether they met the following criteria:
* An explicit argument about why the proposed question/coding category merited inclusion in one or more of the PIREDEU data components.
* An explicit argument about the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the question/coding category.
* An explicit case for how the question/coding category facilitates integration and linking of several data components. The PIREDEU Steering Committee preferred proposals that allowed for conceptual integration across the five data components (i.e. voter survey, candidate survey, media study, manifestos and contextual data).
* An explicit consideration of how the proposed question/coding category linked with questions/coding categories in past data collection efforts.
The PIREDEU Steering Committee favoured proposals that ensured over time and across instrument comparability. Moreover, given that the voter and candidate surveys can only contain a limited number of question items, priority was given to proposals with succinct question formats.
On this basis we ranked each question in the proposal as follows:
(1) The proposed item will be included in data collection instrument
(2) High priority proposal that will be included if space and time constraints permit
(3) Proposal can only be included if additional funding is secured
(4) Proposed item is not a priority
The item(s) from your proposal received the following ranking(s):
Instrument: Media Study
In addition to coding websites of parties and the elite level side one would need to consider incorporating some element of 'unofficial' campaigning online - which is possibly one of the most interesting areas. Also online news coverage by blogs as well as mainstream media will inevitably play a bigger role. In order to get this to work there would need to be some coordination and management to agree on the methodologies to be applied, what actors would need to be included and how far in advance of the election they would be studied. Also consideration would need to be given to storage and archiving of election sites.
Rationale: This was deemed to encompass candidate campaign activity rather than reporting of the campaign by media outlets. Furthermore, limited study funds for the study prevent including other types of media in the coding. However, a pilot study will be conducted to compare Internet sources, free newspapers and traditional media prior to the 2009 election. The Media Study team will contact you about this pilot study.
Thank you again for your participation in this process. We hope that you will continue to use the Open Forum to comment on the questionnaires/codebook that will be posted online on the Forum in the autumn.
Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee
Deputy Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee