Skip to content
Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton April 15, 2020

Upset with the refugee policy: Exploring the relations between policy malaise, media use, trust in news media, and issue fatigue

Dorothee Arlt, Christina Schumann and Jens Wolling
From the journal Communications

Abstract

In this paper, we introduce the concept of policy malaise, which refers to citizens’ dissatisfaction with the way political institutions and processes handle specific problems such as the refugee issue in Germany. Based on a representative online panel survey with two waves conducted in 2016 and 2017 (N = 836), we explore the occurrence of policy malaise among the German population and its relation to issue-specific media use, trust in news media, and issue fatigue. First, the results indicate that policy malaise toward the refugee issue is widespread in Germany. Second, we found that media use relates differentially to policy malaise: While high exposure to public broadcasting was negatively associated with policy malaise, we found the opposite for private broadcasting. Third, policy malaise is higher for people who experience issue fatigue and lower for people who trust the news media. Finally, trust in media reinforces the negative and positive relations between media use and policy malaise. Implications concerning the associations between policy malaise and political alienation in its broader sense are discussed.

References

Aarts, K., & Semetko, H. A. (2003). The divided electorate: Media use and political involvement. The Journal of Politics, 65(3), 759–784. doi:10.1111/1468–2508.00211Search in Google Scholar

Aarts, K., & Semetko, H. A. (2012). Changes in European public service broadcasting: Potential consequences for political knowledge, attitudes and behavior. In H. A. Semetko & M. Scammell (Eds), The SAGE handbook of political communication (pp. 186–196). Los Angeles: SAGE.Search in Google Scholar

Almond, G. A. (1987): Politische Kulturforschung – Rückblick und Ausblick [Political culture research – review and outlook]. In D. Berg-Schlosser & J. Schissler (Eds.), Politische Kultur in Deutschland. Bilanz und Perspektiven der Forschung [Political culture in Germany. Resume and research perspectives] (pp. 27–38). Opladen: VS Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Ardèvol-Abreu, A., & Gil de Zúñiga, H. (2017). Effects of editorial media bias perception and media trust on the use of traditional, citizen, and social media news. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 94(3), 703–724. doi:10.1177/1077699016654684Search in Google Scholar

Ariely, G. (2015 a). Does commercialized political coverage undermine political trust? Evidence across European countries. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 59(3), 438–455. doi:10.1080/08838151.2015.1055000Search in Google Scholar

Ariely, G. (2015 b). Trusting the press and political trust: A conditional relationship. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 25(3), 351–367. doi:10.1080/17457289.2014.997739Search in Google Scholar

Arlt, D. (2018). Who trusts the news media? Exploring the factors shaping trust in the news media in German-speaking Switzerland. Studies in Communication Sciences, 18(2), 9–23.Search in Google Scholar

Arlt, D., & Wolling, J. (2016). The refugees: Threatening or beneficial? Exploring the effects of positive and negative attitudes and communication on hostile media perceptions. Global Media Journal, 6(1), 1–21. URN:nbn:de:gbv:547–201600309Search in Google Scholar

Arlt, D., & Wolling, J. (2018). Bias wanted! Examining people’s information exposure, quality expectations and bias perceptions in the context of the refugee debate among different segments of the German population. Communications, 43(1), 1–25. doi:10.1515/commun-2017–0045Search in Google Scholar

Avery, J. M. (2009). Videomalaise or virtuous circle? The influence of the news media on political trust. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 14(4), 410–433. doi:10.1177/1940161209336224Search in Google Scholar

Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks. How social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Bennett, S. E., Rhine, S. D., Flickinger, R. S., & Bennett, L. L. M. (1999). “Video malaise” revisited. Public trust in the media and government. Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 4(4), 8–23. doi:10.1177/1081180X9900400402Search in Google Scholar

Blum, S., & Schubert, K. (2018). Politikfeldanalyse: Eine Einführung [Policy analysis: An introduction]. Wiesbaden: Springer.Search in Google Scholar

Brettschneider, F., & Vetter, A. (1998). Mediennutzung, politisches Selbstbewusstsein und politische Entfremdung [Media use, political self-esteem, and political alienation]. Rundfunk und Fernsehen, 46(4), 463–479.Search in Google Scholar

Cappella, J. N., & Jamieson, K. H. (1997). Spiral of cynicism: The press and the public good. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Carr, D. J., Barnidge, M., Lee, B. G., & Tsang, S. J. (2014). Cynics and skeptics. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 91(3), 452–470. doi:10.1177/1077699014538828Search in Google Scholar

Ceron, A. (2015). Internet, news, and political trust: the difference between social media and online media outlets. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 20(5), 487–503. doi:10.1111/jcc4.12129Search in Google Scholar

Ceron, A., & Memoli, V. (2015). Trust in government and media slant: A cross-sectional analysis of media effects in twenty-seven European countries. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 20(3), 339–359. doi:10.1177/1940161215572634Search in Google Scholar

Chang, W.-C. (2018). Media use and satisfaction with democracy: Testing the role of political interest. Social Indicators Research, 140(3), 999–1016. doi:10.1007/s11205-017-1806-ySearch in Google Scholar

Easton, D. (1972). Responses of political systems to stress on support. In: A. W. Finifter (Ed.), Alienation and the social system (pp. 319–345). New York: Wiley.Search in Google Scholar

Farah, B. G., Barnes, S. H., & Heunks, F. (1979). Political dissatisfaction. In S. H. Barnes, M. Kaase, K. R. Allerback, B. Farah, F. Heunks, …, & L. Rosenmayr (Eds.), Political action: Mass participation in five Western democracies (pp. 409–448). Beverly Hills, London: Sage Publications.Search in Google Scholar

Gaziano, C., & McGrath, K. (2016). Measuring the Concept of Credibility. Journalism Quarterly, 63(3), 451–462. https://doi.org/10.1177/107769908606300301Search in Google Scholar

Georgiou, M., & Zaborowski, R. (2017). Media coverage of the “refugee crisis”: A cross-European perspective. Retrieved January 29th, 2020 from https://rm.coe.int/1680706b00.Search in Google Scholar

Haller, M. (2017). Die ‘Flüchtlingskrise’ in den Medien – Tagesaktueller Journalismus zwischen Meinung und Information [The ‘refugee crisis’ in the media – daily journalism between opinion and information]. Frankfurt am Main: Otto-Brenner-Stiftung. Retrieved January 29th, 2020 from https://www.otto-brenner-stiftung.de/fileadmin/user_data/stiftung/02_Wissenschaftsportal/03_Publikationen/AH93_Fluechtingskrise_Haller_2017_07_20.pdf.Search in Google Scholar

Hanitzsch, T., Van Dalen, A., & Steindl, N. (2018). Caught in the nexus: A comparative and longitudinal analysis of public trust in the press. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 23(1), 3–23. doi:10.1177/1940161217740695Search in Google Scholar

Hiller, L., & Weichselbaum, P. (2015). Wieso Medieninhalte politikverdrossen machen und weshalb es nötig ist, die Mediamalaise-Forschung neu zu orientieren [Why media content makes people feel alienated with politics, and why is it necessary to reorient mediamalaise research]. In B. Pohlers, F. Schreiber & I. Ghubbar (Eds.), Die Politik auf dem Siegertreppchen? Wenn Olympia, WM und Co. zum Spielball strategischer Kommunikation werden [The politics on the podium? When Olympics, World Cups and the like become captives of strategic communication] (pp. 157–174). Berlin, Germany: Frank & Timme.Search in Google Scholar

Hooghe, M. (2002). Watching television and civic disengagement: Disentangling the effects of time, programs, and stations. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 7(2), 84–104.Search in Google Scholar

Im, T., Cho, W., Porumbescu, G., & Park, J. (2012). Internet, trust in government, and citizen compliance. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 24(3), 741–763. doi:10.1093/jopart/mus037Search in Google Scholar

Iyengar, S., & Kinder, D. R. (1985). Psychological accounts of agenda setting. In S. Kraus & R. M. H. Perloff (Eds.), Mass media and political thought (pp. 117–140). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Search in Google Scholar

Jones, D. A. (2004). Why Americans don’t trust the media: A preliminary analysis. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 9(2), 60–75. doi:10.1177/1081180x04263461Search in Google Scholar

Köcher, R. (2015). Mehrheit fühlt sich über Flüchtlinge einseitig informiert [Majority feels unbalanced informed about refugees]. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Retrieved January 29th, 2020 from https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/fluechtlingskrise/allensbach-umfrage-zu-medienberichterstattung-in-fluechtlingskrise-13967959.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_2.Search in Google Scholar

Kohring, M., & Matthes, J. (2007). Trust in news media: Development and validation of a multidimensional scale. Communication Research, 34(2), 231–252. doi:10.1177/0093650206298071Search in Google Scholar

Krüger, U. M., & Zapf-Schramm, T. (2018). InfoMonitor: Bundestagswahl und Donald Trump waren Topthemen 2017: Analyse der Fernsehnachrichten von Das Erste, ZDF, RTL und Sat.1 [InfoMonitor: Bundestag election and Donald Trump were top issues in 2017: Analysis of television news from Das Erste, ZDF, RTL and Sat.1]. Media Perspektiven, n.a.(2), 59–87. Retrieved January 29th, 2020 from https://www.ard-werbung.de/fileadmin/user_upload/media-perspektiven/pdf/2018/0218_Krueger_Zapf-Schramm.pdf.Search in Google Scholar

Krüger, U. M., & Zapf-Schramm, T. (2019). InfoMonitor 2018: GroKo und Migrationsdebatte prägten die Fernsehnachrichten [InfoMonitor 2018: GroKo and the migration debate shaped television news]. Media Perspektiven, n.a.(2), 59–87. Retrieved January 29th, 2020 from https://www.ard-werbung.de/fileadmin/user_upload/media-perspektiven/pdf/2019/0219_Krueger_Zapf-Schramm_2019-02-13.pdf.Search in Google Scholar

Kuhlmann, C., Schumann, C., & Wolling, J. (2014). Ich will davon nichts mehr sehen und hören! Exploration des Phänomens Themenverdrossenheit [I do not want to see nor hear about this anymore! Exploring the phenomenon ‘issue fatigue’]. Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, 62(1), 5–24. doi:10.5771/1615-634x-2014-1-5Search in Google Scholar

Kyriakides, C. (2017). Words don’t come easy: Al Jazeera’s migrant–refugee distinction and the European culture of (mis)trust. Current Sociology, 65(7), 933–952. doi:10.1177/0011392116658089Search in Google Scholar

Ladd, J. M. (2010). Why Americans distrust the news media and how it matters. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Lee, T.-T. (2010). Why they don’t trust the media: An examination of factors predicting trust. American Behavioral Scientist, 54(1), 8–21. doi:10.1177/0002764210376308Search in Google Scholar

Leshner, G., & McKean, M. L. (1997). Using TV news for political information during an off-year election: Effects on political knowledge and cynicism. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 74(1), 69–83. doi:10.1177/107769909707400106Search in Google Scholar

Martinsen, R. (2009). Öffentlichkeit in der ‘Mediendemokratie’ aus der Perspektive konkurrierender Demokratietheorien [The public in the ‘media democracy’ from the perspective of competing democracy theories]. In F. Marcinkowski & B. Pfetsch (Eds.), Politik in der Mediendemokratie (pp. 37–69). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Matthes, J. (2005). The need for orientation towards news media: Revising and validating a classic concept. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 18(4), 422–444. doi:10.1093/ijpor/edh118Search in Google Scholar

Matthes, J., Kühne, R., Schemer, C., & Wirth, W. (2013). Nutzen oder glauben? Zum Verhältnis von Mediennutzung, Vertrauen in die politische Berichterstattung und Politikvertrauen [Using or believing? On the relationship between media use, trust in political media coverage, and political trust]. In C. Schemer, W. Wirth & C. Wünsch (Eds.), Politische Kommunikation: Wahrnehmung, Verarbeitung, Wirkung [Political communication: Perception, processing, effect] (pp. 261–276). Baden-Baden, Germany: Nomos.Search in Google Scholar

Maurer, M. (2003). Politikverdrossenheit durch Medienberichte: Eine Paneluntersuchung [Political alienation through media reports: A panel study]. Konstanz, Germany: UVK.Search in Google Scholar

Maurer, M., Jost, P., Haßler, J., & Kruschinski, S. (2019). Auf den Spuren der Lügenpresse. Zur Richtigkeit und Ausgewogenheit der Medienberichterstattung in der ‘Flüchtlingskrise’ [On the trail of the lying press. On the correctness and balance of media coverage in the ‘refugee crisis’]. Publizistik, 64(1), 15–35. doi:10.1007/s11616-018-00466-ySearch in Google Scholar

Maurer, M., Jost, P., Pfoh, M., Porath, M., & Wilke, L. (2018). Motivierte Zweifel. Wie die Voreinstellungen der Rezipienten zum Berichterstattungsgegenstand ihre Wahrnehmung der Medienglaubwürdigkeit beeinflussen [Motivated doubts. How the recipient’s preconceptions of the reporting object influence their perception of media credibility]. Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, 66(3), 302–319.Search in Google Scholar

McCombs, M. (2005). A look at agenda-setting: Past, present and future. Journalism Studies, 6(4), 543–557. doi:10.1080/14616700500250438Search in Google Scholar

Metag, J., & Arlt, D. (2016). Das Konstrukt Themenverdrossenheit und seine Messung. Theoretische Konzeptualisierung und Skalenentwicklung [The construct ‘issue fatige’ and its measurement. Theoretical conceptualization and scale development]. Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, 64(4), 542–563. doi:10.5771/1615-634X-2016-4-542Search in Google Scholar

Miller, A. H. (1974). Political issues and trust in government: 1964–1970. The American Political Science Review, 68(3), 951–972. doi:10.2307/1959140Search in Google Scholar

Miller, J. M., & Krosnick, J. A. (2000). News media impact on the ingredients of presidential evaluations: Politically knowledgeable citizens are guided by a trusted source. American Journal of Political Science, 44(2), 301–315.Search in Google Scholar

Mothes, C. (2008). Die Theorie der kognitiven Dissonanz – fruchtbar oder obsolet? Neue Erklärungspotentiale einer alten Theorie am Beispiel der Politikverdrossenheit [The theory of cognitive dissonance – fertile or obsolete? New explanatory potentials of an old theory using the example of political disenchantment]. In R. Geier, M. Wuttke & R. Piehl (Eds.), Medien und Wirklichkeit [Media and reality] (pp. 150–166). Germany, Chemnitz: Technische Universität Chemnitz.Search in Google Scholar

Mutz, D. C., & Reeves, B. (2005). The new videomalaise: Effects of televised incivility on political trust. The American Political Science Review, 99(1), 1–15.Search in Google Scholar

Newton, K. (1999). Mass media effects: Mobilization or media malaise? British Journal of Political Science, 29(4), 577–599.Search in Google Scholar

Norris, P. (2000). A virtuous circle: Political communications in postindustrial societies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Pinkleton, B. E., & Austin, E. W. (1998). Media and participation: Breaking the spiral of disaffection. In T. J. Johnson, C. E. Hays & S. P. Hays (Eds.), Engaging the public. How government and the media can reinvigorate American democracy (pp. 75–86). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Search in Google Scholar

Robinson, M. J. (1976). Public affairs television and the growth of political malaise: The case of “the selling of the Pentagon”. American Political Science Review, 70(2), 409–432. doi:10.2307/1959647Search in Google Scholar

Scheufele, D. A., & Tewksbury, D. (2007). Framing, agenda setting, and priming: The evolution of three media effects models. Journal of Communication, 57(1), 9–20. doi:10.1111/j.0021-9916.2007.00326.xSearch in Google Scholar

Schmitt-Beck, R., & Schrott, P. R. (1992). Dimensionen der Mediennutzung in West- und Ostdeutschland [Dimensions of media use in West and East Germany]. Media Perspektiven, n.a.(6), 376–392.Search in Google Scholar

Schuck, A. R. (2017). Media malaise and political cynicism. In P. Rössler, C. A. Hoffner, & L. Zoonen (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of media effects. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118783764.wbieme0066.Search in Google Scholar

Schultz, T., Jackob, N., Ziegele, M., Quiring, O., & Schemer, C. (2017). Erosion des Vertrauens zwischen Medien und Publikum? Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Bevölkerungsumfrage [Erosion of trust between media and audience? Results of a representative population survey]. Media Perspektiven, n.a.(5), 246–259.Search in Google Scholar

Schumann, C. (2018). Is topic fatigue an international problem? Four theses. Global Media Journal (German edition), 8(2). https://doi.org/10.22032/dbt.37780Search in Google Scholar

Strömbäck, J., Djerf-Pierre, M., & Shehata, A. (2016). A question of time? A longitudinal analysis of the relationship between news media consumption and political trust. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 21(1), 88–110. doi:10.1177/1940161215613059Search in Google Scholar

Tsfati, Y. (2002). The consequences of mistrust in the news media: Media skepticism as a moderator in media effects and as a factor influencing news media exposure. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Search in Google Scholar

Tsfati, Y. (2003 a). Does audience skepticism of the media matter in agenda setting? Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 47(2), 157–176.Search in Google Scholar

Tsfati, Y. (2003 b). Media skepticism and climate of opinion perception. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 15(1), 65–82. doi:10.1093/ijpor/15.1.65Search in Google Scholar

Tsfati, Y., & Ariely, G. (2014). Individual and contextual correlates of trust in media across 44 countries. Communication Research, 41(6), 760–782. doi:10.1177/0093650213485972Search in Google Scholar

Tsfati, Y., & Cohen, J. (2005). Democratic consequences of hostile media perceptions: The case of Gaza settlers. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 10(4), 28–51. doi:10.1177/1081180x05280776Search in Google Scholar

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1971). Belief in the law of small numbers. Psychological Bulletin, 76(2), 105–110. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0031322Search in Google Scholar

Vowe, G. (2008). Politics, policy, polity. In L. L. Kaid & C. Holtz-Bacha (Eds.), Encyclopedia of political communication (vol. 1, pp. 621). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. doi:10.4135/9781412953993.n524Search in Google Scholar

Walker, J. R. (1988). How media reliance affects political efficacy in the South. Journalism Quarterly, 65(3), 746–750. https://doi.org/10.1177/107769908806500329Search in Google Scholar

Wanta, W., & Hu, Y.-W. (1994). The effects of credibility, reliance, and exposure on media agenda-setting: A path analysis model. Journalism Quarterly, 71(1), 90–98. doi:10.1177/107769909407100109Search in Google Scholar

Wolling, J. (1999). Politikverdrossenheit durch Massenmedien? Der Einfluss der Medien auf die Einstellungen der Bürger zur Politik [Political disenchantment through mass media? The influence of the media on the attitudes of the citizens towards politics]. Opladen, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Wolling, J. (2009). Onlinenutzung und Einstellungen zur Politik. Ergebnisse einer repräsentativen Panelstudie [Online use and attitudes towards politics. Results of a representative panel study]. In F. Marcinkowski & B. Pfetsch (Eds.), Politik in der Mediendemokratie (pp. 447–467). Wiesbaden, Germany: VS Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Yamamoto, M., Kushin, M. J., & Dalisay, F. (2017). Social media and political disengagement among young adults: A moderated mediation model of cynicism, efficacy, and social media use on apathy. Mass Communication and Society, 20(2), 149–168. doi:10.1080/15205436.2016.1224352Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2020-04-15
Published in Print: 2020-11-18

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston