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Newspaper Reporting and Public Perceptions of Party Finance in Britain: Knows Little, Learns Something?

Hudson, JA; (2011) Newspaper Reporting and Public Perceptions of Party Finance in Britain: Knows Little, Learns Something? Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties , 21 (4)

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Abstract

A sizeable literature in political science considers the level of information citizens need to make informed policy choices, however, fewer studies examine the quality of information that is available to the public. While debate here has often characterized citizens as ‘informed’ or ‘uninformed’, this paper considers that the public may be mis-informed. Following Ansolabehere et al. (2005), I examine one source of mis-information—sampling bias—in newspaper reporting of party finance, and the extent to which individuals’ estimates of donations and expenditures follow what is reported in the press. The data for the project come from three sources: a content analysis of major newspapers, survey data generated by YouGov’s online panel (N= 2,008), and donation/expenditure reports from the regulator, the Electoral Commission. Analysis of the data here show evidence of sampling bias with respect to press reports on the size and source of donations and the relative spending priorities of the three main parties. Moreover, although public knowledge of key aspects of party finance is low, press reports provide little opportunity for the public to learn about party finance.

Type:Article
Title:Newspaper Reporting and Public Perceptions of Party Finance in Britain: Knows Little, Learns Something?
Location:UK
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Political Science

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