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University of Wisconsin–Madison

SMAD team publishes “Covering #MeToo across the News Spectrum: Political Accusation and Public Events as Drivers of Press Attention”

Furthering their research on the #MeToo movement, the Social Media and Democracy (SMAD) team has published “Covering #MeToo across the News Spectrum: Political Accusation and Public Events as Drivers of Press Attention” in The International Journal of Press/Politics.

Abstract

Garnering coverage across the political spectrum is a major challenge for burgeoning social movements. The #MeToo movement stands out due to the volume of attention it generated. Yet, it is unclear how news media across the partisan spectrum covered the movement using different sexual violence language markers, latent topic, and word choices and which accusations and events drove media attention. To examine this, we used Media Cloud to extract 17,877 news articles from nine media outlets across the political spectrum, containing specific n-grams or co-occurrences of (1) “metoo,” (2) “sexual misconduct,” (3) “sexual harassment,” and (4) “sexual assault” from October 2017 through February 2018. The analyses first examined whether language and attention differed across the ideological news ecology and then turned to time-series modeling of these discourses to examine what drove press coverage and structural topic modeling (STM) and term frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF) analysis to understand latent topics and language usage. Findings reveal that (1) left-leaning media dedicated more relative attention across all topics—#MeToo, sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and sexual assault—relative to centrist and right-leaning media. Moreover, across the right, left, and centrist media, the language markers “misconduct,” “harassment,” and “assault” decreased over the study period, while the mentions of #MeToo movement increased during the same period; (2) stories relating to entertainment and those accusing politicians, especially those belonging to the party in power at the Federal level, seemed to be by far the strongest driver of news media attention; and (3) we further observed partisan differences in topics of news coverage and language usage.

Full citation: “Covering #MeToo Across the News Spectrum: Political Accusation and Public Events as Drivers of Press Attention,” Shreenita Ghosh, Min-Hsin Su, Aman Abhishek, Jiyoun Suk, Chau Tong, Ornella Hills, Teresa Correa, Christine Garlough, Porismita Borah, and Dhavan Shah, International Journal of Press/Politics, DOI:10.1080/10810730.2020.1838003.

Access the article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1940161220968081

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