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How do media, political and regulatory agendas influence one another in high risk policy issues?

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This article shows how an emerging risk is covered by the media and how this interacts with political attention and policy implementation. Gas drilling has resulted in earthquakes in the Netherlands over the past 25 years. We show that an increase in the frequency and magnitude has not stimulated greater media attention. Media and political attention increased only after the media had interpreted the risk as a safety issue. Once this had happened, newspapers and political debates tended to focus on the emotionally loaded aspects. This is in contrast with the regulatory agenda, which followed its own course by focusing on factual information. By using a new method ‐ supervised-machine learning ‐ we analyse a large, longitudinal data set to explore patterns over time. Our findings shed new light on risk- and agenda-setting theory, confirming that media and politics agendas reinforce each other, but the regulatory agenda is not strongly influenced by them.
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Keywords: agenda setting; implementation; media attention; political attention; regulation; risk policy; social amplification; supervised-machine learning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Erasmus University, The Netherlands

Publication date: July 2020

This article was made available online on December 18, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "How do media, political and regulatory agendas influence one another in high risk policy issues?".

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