How media shape political trust: News coverage of immigration and its effects on trust in the European Union

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Series Details Volume 20, Number 3, Pages 447-467
Publication Date September 2019
ISSN 1465-1165 (print) | 1741-2757 (online)
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Attitudes towards immigration are among the core predictors of attitudes toward the European Union. However, even though most citizens learn about immigration through the media, we lack a comprehensive account of how media coverage of immigration influences support for the European Union.

In this study, we use a combination of European Social Survey and Media Claims data to investigate the effects of the visibility and valence of immigration and refugee media coverage on political trust in the European Union in 18 countries between 2012 and 2016. Our results show that media coverage of immigration and refugees influences trust in the European Union; however, the effects depend on citizens’ ideological leaning and content characteristics. Furthermore, we find that the impact of immigration attitudes on trust in the European Union becomes more important over the course of the refugee crisis.

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