A big data analysis of six countries has demonstrated that Western news media focus increasingly on foreign leaders, at the expense of their respective countries—a process termed here as mediated political personalization in the international arena. Important variations found across the countries in the sample are attributed to differences in media systems, media values, and the level of development of communication technologies. However, for the first time, it was shown that the personalization process is not deterministic; rather, it is affected by leaders’ personal qualities, particularly those that are aligned with the values of prevalent media logic. Thus, the election of a leader endowed with strong charisma accelerates the process of personalization in the coverage of his or her country in the foreign media. Data were obtained from a large corpus comprising more than 800,000 news items spanning two to three past decades, subjected to a computerized content analysis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Funding for this project was provided by the Israel Science Foundation, Smart Family Institute of Communications, and The Levi Eshkol Institute for Social, Economic and Political Research in Israel.
© The Author(s) 2013.
- content analysis
- leaders’ charismatic skills
- media personalization