EU Cohesion Policy under the Media Spotlight: Exploring Territorial and Temporal Patterns in News Coverage and Tone

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Series Details Volume 58, Number 4, Pages 1034-1055
Publication Date July 2020
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This article explores the territorial and temporal patterns of EU cohesion policy media coverage. The topic content and tone of news are analysed using topic modelling and sentiment analysis techniques, which are applied to a new corpus of over 4,000 English and Spanish news stories from the period 2010 to 2017 across three territorial levels.

In line with our theoretical expectations, we found significant differences in the tone used across territorial levels, with national and transnational levels being more negative than the regional level. While national and transnational media place relatively more emphasis on politicized EU topics, subnational media focus more on substantive policy topics corresponding with EU policy objectives. Furthermore, media reporting on the cohesion policy evolved significantly over time and reacted to external events, such as the euro and migration crises, as well as internal, country‐specific events, such as Brexit in the UK and corruption scandals in Spain. However, the tone of cohesion policy news is positive overall suggesting that the media can, in principle, contribute to public support for the policy and the EU more generally.

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