The overall objective of VARME is to determine the long-term effects of the news media on citizens’ beliefs about societal problems. Theoretically and empirically, the program challenges the prevailing Short-term Media Effects Paradigm that characterizes most research on media effects. In doing so, the program uncovers a variety of important long-term media effects largely ignored in previous research. These include how beliefs about societal problems are initially formed (RQ1), how beliefs are maintained and reinforced (RQ2), as well as under what conditions they change both temporarily and more permanently (RQ3).
The ambitious objective of VARME is achieved by three complementary projects. These projects are all possible thanks to an internationally unique infrastructure for data collection at the University of Gothenburg. Project 1 uncovers the long-term processes of media effects over a period of several years. Using an extensive longitudinal mixed-methods design, this study provides unique knowledge on how citizens’ beliefs about society are maintained, reinforced and potentially changed by the news media in the long run. Project 2 clarifies how citizens’ beliefs initially form in response to news coverage. By setting up a novel event-based study, this project enables a close “live” analysis of belief formation as real-world events take place and media coverage unfolds over time. Project 3 focuses on causality and mechanisms behind long-term media effects. Working together with professional journalists, this project is based on a series of realistic experiments on how citizens’ news choices and news exposure influence the maintenance, reinforcement and changes of beliefs over time.
Apart from documenting the varieties of long-term effects on citizens’ beliefs about a wide range of societal problems, VARME makes significant contributions to several established theories of media effects.
Field of science
- /social sciences/media and communications/journalism
Call for proposal
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