This multi-country set of studies across Europe (including New Zealand and Israel) uses the same Q methodological design to explore news consumption. It appears in a themed section in the on-line journal Participations:
“Themed Section: News Consumption across Europe,” edited by Hanna Adoni, Zrinjka Peruško, Hillel Nossek & Kim Christian Schrøder
Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, 14(2), November 2017.
(Table of Contents Link: http://www.participations.org/Volume%2014/Issue%202/contents.htm)
The titles and abstracts for all 15 articles––Introduction, 10 single country studies, and 4 comparative studies––are below, along with links to each. Author email addresses appear at the end of each article.
Adoni, Hanna, Zrinjka Peruško, Hillel Nossek, & Kim Christian Schrøder. Introduction: News consumption as a democratic resource––News media repertoires across Europe. Pp. 226-252. (Link: ‘Introduction: News consumption as a democratic resource – News media repertoires across Europe’) Abstract: This article introduces the Special Section of Participations, in which audience researchers from twelve mostly European countries report on a joint comparative research project about repertoires of news consumption and their democratic implications. The first part outlines theoretical and analytical challenges for news audience research arising from the rapid transformations in current media landscapes, notably the emergence of digital, mobile and social media. We briefly describe our theoretical indebtedness to Jürgen Habermas’s theory of the public sphere, and the recent attempts to redefine the classical notions of democratic citizenship towards the everyday lifeworld. The second part describes the project’s anchorage in media systems theory, according to which national mediascapes can be compared not just on a one-to-one basis, but in terms of their potential membership of one of a finite number of supranational media systems defined in terms of shared structural and institutional characteristics. The third part describes the project’s unique fieldwork design, which followed a tailor-made version of Q-methodology for building audience news repertoires with greater transparency and reliability than is possible with traditional qualitative methods. This introduction thus provides the shared framework of understanding within which the Special Section’s contributions should be read: The first section includes ten articles, which each presents the findings from one national analysis of national repertoires of news consumption. The second section presents four articles, which in different ways embark on comparative analyses of news repertoires enabled by the Q-methodological framework.
Part I: Audience news media repertoires in ten countries
Stark, Birgit & Svenja Bergerhoff. News media use in Germany on multiple media platforms: A Q-methodological analysis of news repertoires. Pp. 253-267. (Link: ‘News media use in Germany on multiple media platforms: A Q-methodological analysis of news repertoires’) Abstract: The news media environment has undergone quite a dramatic transformation in recent years. In the digital era, media users receive an overwhelming supply of news from multiple media. Moreover, online news presentation gives people more content choices, more control and the opportunity to customize their news consumption. This study investigates patterns of cross-media news consumption in Germany based on Q methodology. We were able to identify five different news repertoires: (1) the public service broadcasting omnivore, (2) the quality-conscious offline omnivore, (3) the ambivalent (online) traditionalist, (4) the professional commercialist and (5) the online localist. Across all repertoires, traditional regional and local news sources play an important role in German media usage, as for example social media services are not that common as news sources in Germany. Furthermore, Germans remain heavily attached to television news. Reasons for these special characteristics of German news media consumption may be that regional and local news are easy to access from many newspapers as well as from the public service broadcasters, who are also broadcasting on a regional level. Moreover, traditionally there is a great interest in local and regional news in Germany.
Swart, Joëlle, Chris Peters, & Marcel Broersma. The ongoing relevance of local journalism and public broadcasters: Motivations for news repertoires in the Netherlands. Pp. 268-282. (Link: ‘The ongoing relevance of local journalism and public broadcasters: Motivations for news repertoires in the Netherlands’). Abstract: The average Dutch news user can choose from an overwhelming number of sources to find, consume and engage with news. This increase in media choice and the growing possibilities for users to navigate all these options may make people’s news consumption more fragmented and individualized, calling into question whether it is still possible to discern any common patterns of news use. This article explores and maps news media repertoires in The Netherlands, analyzing the value of specific compositions of different platforms, genres and outlets from the point-of-view of the Dutch news user. Employing Q methodology, it identifies five distinct patterns of news media use: 1) regionally-oriented 2) background- oriented 3) digital 4) laid-back and 5) nationally-oriented news use. It finds that while ongoing circulation drops and budget cuts at regional news media may suggest differently, most participants still strongly value the local press for its high perceived relevance and impact on everyday life. Furthermore, the news users in this study considered public service television news bulletins as playing a large role in daily life across all five media repertoires, suggesting a continuing connective role of public TV broadcasters.
Torres da Silva, Marisa, Maria José Brites, Rita Figueiras, Sílvio Correia Santos, Inês Amaral, Lídia Marôpo, Pedro Jerónimo, Paula Espírito Santo & Liliana Pacheco. Between traditional and social media: News repertoires in Portugal. Pp. 283-300. (Link: ‘Between traditional and social media: news repertoires in Portugal’). Abstract: In the study reported in this article, the diverse news media repertoires in Portugal are investigated using a Q-methodological approach. We analyse the participants’ perceptions of the experienced values of the cross-media news landscape (Schrøder, 2012) and identify seven news media repertoires: quality media lovers (R1); broadcast media consumers (R2); television news addicts, press consumers and social media avoiders (R3); news snackers (R4); online based-media and social media addicts (R5); online newspaper lovers and radio news avoiders (R6); and television, press and social/online-based media consumers (R7). A preference for traditional media, especially television, and increasing use of social media, constitute the salient features of the Portuguese national news repertoires.
Van Damme, Kristin. In Flanders Fields: News media repertoires in Dutch-speaking Belgium. Pp. 301-323. (Link: ‘In Flanders Fields: News media repertoires in Dutch-speaking Belgium’). Abstract: This article presents the Flemish part of an international study on news use and outlines seven Flemish news media repertoires. To examine these repertoires, an integrated mixed- method approach was adopted, combining an in-depth qualitative analysis of 36 in-situ interviews with a guiding Q-methodological analysis. This Q-sort technique required the informants to sort 36 types of news media outlets on a bi-polar dimension ranging from ‘does not play a role in my life’ to ‘plays an important role in my life’. The Flemish news media repertoires are each characterized by a specific type of news user: (1) the Quality seeking traditionalist, (2) the Quality seeking cosmopolitan, (3) the Digital up-to-dater, (4) the Headline-based snacker, (5) the Critical omnivore, (6) the Sports lover and the (7) Collateral user.
Van Leeckwyck, Robin, Geoffroy Patriarche, & Marie Dufrasne. Doing one’s shopping in the ‘supermarket of news’: News media repertoires in French-speaking Belgium. Pp. 324-343. (Link: ‘Doing one’s shopping in the ‘supermarket of news’: News media repertoires in French-speaking Belgium’). Abstract: This article presents the findings from an empirical study of news media consumption and its relation to democratic life in French-speaking Belgium. Q methodology was used to build up a typology of news media repertoires, and the democratic activities were captured through a survey questionnaire. The 36 informants were recruited in order to reach a diversity in terms of gender, age, location and education. Four news media repertoires emerged out of the statistical analysis: the ‘traditionalist news viewers’, the ‘new generation quality news readers’, the ‘audiovisual and social media lovers’, and the ‘digital news omnivores’. The article examines the profiles of these repertoires individually, delineates the collective repertoire of French-speaking Belgium, and briefly reports on the analytical findings from the survey of democratic activities at an aggregate level. The overall pattern mostly reflects continuities in the evolution of the French- speaking Belgian media landscape, although some interesting changes are taking place at the intersection of legacy and new media forms.
Peruško, Zrinjka, Antonija Čuvalo, & Dina Vozab. News as a democratic resource: Q study approach to cross-media repertoires in Croatia. Pp. 344-363. (Link: ‘News as a democratic resource: Q study approach to cross-media news repertoires in Croatia’). Abstract: The normative expectation of the ‘virtuous circle’ (Norris & Inglehart, 2009), in which democracy is served by informed citizens via the media, motivates our examination of audience understandings of their news consumption in relation to its different possible public and personal uses. Audience research being the least developed area of communications study in Croatia (Peruško & Vozab, 2014), we have few insights into motivations of media users or the uses they make of any media genre, including news. This study, part of an ongoing comparative project conducted in 12 European countries and beyond, conducted at the Centre for Media and Communication Research, Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb, is thus pioneering the insight into cross-media news repertoires of Croatian audiences and their possible democratic repercussions. 36 Q- methodological interviews were conducted in December 2014. The study shows that six news repertoires describe different types of cross-media news consumption habits of Croatian audiences, offering preliminary insights for understanding the news-democracy connection.
Kõuts-Klemm, Ragne. High diversity in a post-socialist Nordic country: News repertoires in Estonia. Pp. 364-378. (Link: ‘High diversity in a post-socialist Nordic country: News repertoires in Estonia’). Abstract: This article presents the Estonian part of an international study on news use and outlines nine Estonian news media repertoires. Based on a Q-methodological approach, the analysis indicates that news practices are highly fragmented in Estonia, since nine different clusters of news preferences were distinguished in the sample of 36 respondents. It appears that television and online news are in strong competition with each other. The ability to compare the news preferences of different individuals is based on two factors: how important the quality of news sources is for users (quality journalism content vs. social media news), and at what geographical level the news interest appears, with the focus on international, national, regional or hyper-local news.
Jędrzejewski, Stanisław. News repertoires in Poland. Pp. 379-398. (Link: ‘News repertoires in Poland’). Abstract: This article presents and discusses the results of the Polish part of an international research project using integrated mixed qualitative and quantitative methods, based on a Q-methodological study of cross-media news consumption. The Polish target sample comprised 36 informants from three cities. The five-factor solution resulting from the factor analysis allowed five repertoire groups to be established for the Polish sample: 1. Mainstream commercial TV and radio channel users; 2. Omnivorous media users; 3 Social and new media fans; 4. Public Service Media followers; 5. Quality press readers.
Nossek, Hillel, & Hanna Adoni. Coexistence of “old” and “new” news media in a transitional media system: News repertoires in Israel. Pp. 399-415. (Link: ‘Coexistence of "old" and "new" news media in a transitional media system: News repertoires in Israel’). Abstract: This article explores news consumption repertoires in Israel. It is a part of a cross-cultural research project of European audiences in nine European countries, Israel, and New Zealand, conducted as a joint effort by communications researchers from different countries in the context of EU COST Action (IS0906), and continued after the formal end of this action in 2014. The most salient finding of this study in Israel is the balance between the use of traditional media and new media. Although there is a high degree of penetration and adoption of new media technologies for the Israeli audience, the ‘old’ media – print, radio, and, in particular, television – continue to serve as important sources for news consumption. Among Israeli interviewees, four clear-cut repertoires were depicted: Elite Mainstream, Popular Mainstream, New Media Technologies, and Omnivores. In the first and second repertoires, the preferred news sources are the ‘old’ media (television, print, and radio), although the new media are used and appreciated as important and significant sources of news. The omnivores also use both old and new media, with a preference for digital media. Only one repertoire, New Media Technologies, which is comprised mainly of young people, focuses almost exclusively on various new media, in particular, social media, as the most important and almost exclusive source of news. Based on our findings of news consumption in the context of the Israeli media system, we suggest there may be a connection between the Israeli national media system’s unique position and the news consumption repertoires’ particular features.
Hight, Craig, & Arezou Zalipour. Shopping in a narrow field: Cross-media news repertories in New Zealand. Pp. 416-436. (Link: ‘Shopping in a narrow field: Cross-media news repertories in New Zealand’). Abstract: This article reports on the New Zealand case study within a larger project investigating cross-media news repertoires within (and across) national audiences. Six key news media repertoires emerged in this case study: heavy news consumers, hybrid browsers, digital browsers, ambivalent networkers, mainstream multiplatformers, and casual and connected. Despite a range of news media outlets available within New Zealand, particularly across digital platforms, participants consistently noted a relatively narrow social, cultural and political discursive field for news content in the country. Within this context, the news repertoires identified within this case study highlighted the high value placed by news consumers on national daily newspapers (print and online), and the continued salience of television and radio news broadcasting for some audience segments. But findings also offered a snapshot of the ways these are being supplemented or replaced, for some audience segments, by digital news outlets (even as these also generated dissatisfaction from many participants).
Part II: Comparing audience news media repertoires across Europe
Van Damme, Kristin, Christian Kobbernagel, & Kim Christian Schrøder. Comparing European citizens news media repertoires across nations: A second-order factor analysis approach to explore cross-national patterns. Pp. 437-463. (Link: ‘Comparing European citizens’ news media repertoires across nations: A second-order factor analysis approach to explore cross-national patterns’). Abstract: A shift towards a more global audience culture is currently being pushed by the increasingly widespread digital, mobile and social media used for news consumption and internationalization of the news markets. However, while living in an increasingly globalized newsscape, audience members are still situated in a local community, and relate to a (oftentimes linguistically anchored) regional and national context for news consumption. To some extent, therefore, news consumption repertoires, can be argued to ‘territorialized’ in such a way that they come to systematically vary from country to country. This study reports from an empirical investigation across nine European countries of how nationally anchored news consumption repertoires are both shaped by the national cultures and by trans-border processes, exploring to what extent we can speak about transnational news repertoires. Methodologically, the study performs a second-order Q-methodological factor analysis of the national news repertoires mapped in the country-specific analyses reported in this special issue.
Kõuts-Klemm, Ragne, & Maria José Brites. How digital converges cross-media news typologies across countries: A comparative study of news consumption in Estonia and Portugal. Pp. 464-483. (Link: ‘How digital converges cross-media news typologies across countries: A comparative study of news consumption in Estonia and Portugal’). Abstract: In this article we argue for the relevance of the internet in the convergence of news consumption in cross-country research in Estonia and Portugal. Being different in their histories and media systems, the comparative research revealed similarities in people’s news repertoires in the two countries, which led to interesting conclusions about the changes in audiences’ news universes. In comparing the repertoires special attention was given to online journalism content: why people use this content, how they evaluate the credibility of the news, and how they make sense of their news selections. The results show that online news repertoires are converging across the two countries, especially in repertoires where consumers are focused on the quality of news, but also to some extent in cases where they mostly got news from social media.
Van Damme, Kristin, & Joëlle Swart. Cross-medial news usage in the Dutch-language region: A comparative study of news repertoires in the Netherlands and Flanders. Pp. 484-503. (Link: ‘Cross-medial news usage in the Dutch-language region: A comparative study of news repertoires in the Netherlands and Flanders’). Abstract: This study explores how news users in Flanders and the Netherlands navigate the increasing supply of news in the digitalised media landscape, specifically considering how they combine various news media into distinct news media repertoires. Employing interviews combined with a card-sorting exercise (N=72), five Dutch and seven Flemish news repertoires are observed, each reflecting a different way that news is of value in people’s everyday life. Moreover, combining data from both countries, the study discovers seven news repertoires transcending national borders. However, all but one of these configurations are heavily dominated by either Flemish or Dutch news users. Thus, we conclude that despite comparable media systems and a common language, both countries’ patterns of news usage still show considerable variation.
Jędrzejewski, Stanislaw. Public service media news consumption across Europe: Views from a Q-methodological repertoire study. Pp. 504-521. (Link: ‘Public service media news consumption across Europe: Views from a Q-methodological repertoire study’). Abstract: This article examines how, in a very strong and competitive media market across Europe, people use public service media (PSM) as a news source within their personal repertoires of news media. Using findings from an international research project, this study integrates qualitative and quantitative methods within a Q-sorting study on news consumption. By conducting qualitative in-depth interviews with a wide diversity of audiences and implementing Q-method procedures of qualitative analytical generalisation, we explore the audiences’ perceptions of the roles that news from PSM companies play their everyday lives and their understanding of the public service mission and remit in contemporary European societies.