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Facebook and local newspapers’ effect on local politicians’ popularity

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While there has been much research on how national politicians’ popularity is related to their participation in both traditional and social media, less research has been undertaken in order to understand the role of media for local politicians. In this article, we discuss how local politicians’ appearance in local newspapers, on Facebook and how their network of Facebook ‘friends’ can be explanation factors of their popularity in Norwegian local elections. The sample consists of 605 local politicians from two municipalities who were on the list of party candidates in these two municipalities in the 2015 election. Our findings show that the local newspaper is more important for the local politicians’ popularity than Facebook, but the politicians’ use of Facebook and numbers of Facebook ‘friends’ show a significant positive correlation with the numbers of preference votes the politicians receive. The effect of Facebook ‘friends’ on local politicians’ popularity shows the importance of connections, which again stresses the need for a greater awareness of the consequences of local politicians’ social networks both offline and online in local political processes.
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Keywords: Norway; local democracy; local newspaper; local politicians; social capital; social media; social network

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University College of Southeast Norway

Publication date: June 1, 2017

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  • Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook was first published in 2002 and places particular emphasis on film, television and new media. The yearbook, although carrying a theme each issue, welcomes a broad range of articles along with shorter review pieces.
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