Promoted Media Coverage: When Newspapers reproduce Court Press Releases for News Content

Recommended citation: Meyer, Philipp. Promoted Media Coverage: When Newspapers reproduce Court Press Releases for News Content. Working Paper.

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Abstract
Causes of media coverage on court decisions is analysed in several studies. However, although courts frequently publish press releases to attract attention and communicate with the public, none of these studies examine if media outlets use court press releases for news production – defined here as the degree to which the news media reproduces the content of court press releases. To bridge this gap, this study establishes a causal link between the judiciary and the media by focusing on court decisions that are promoted with a press release and verifiably picked up by the media. It examines 423 newspaper articles published by two German daily newspapers (Die Süddeutsche and Die Welt) which have reported on 121 German Federal Constitutional Court cases between 2013 and 2017. Content reproduction is measured by the text-similarity between press releases and news articles and the analysis uses textual network analysis and linear regression with year- and newspaper-fixed effects. Results show that media reproduces press releases when the underlying policy issue is complex, and when the period between documents is short. I interpret these results based on news values research and recent discussions on open justice and reflect on the implications for judicial accountability.

Keywords
constitutional courts; open justice; political communication; media gatekeeping; news production

Status
Revise and Resubmit in Political Communication.