Home » Does public approval shape news? Competing legitimacies and news headlines in the Philippines from Ramos to Aquino III

Does public approval shape news? Competing legitimacies and news headlines in the Philippines from Ramos to Aquino III

ABSTRACT

Can a president’s high public approval, vis-à-vis competing coordinate institutions, shape press coverage of political events? Testing theories of executive scandals, this paper argues that in the context of Philippine presidential democracy, presidential satisfaction shapes the production of political events more than the presence of other policy issues competing for broadsheet space. Using logistic regression models to analyse the news headlines appearing in two major broadsheets in the Philippines from 1992 to 2016, the study finds that presidents whose approval ratings are low compared to Congress are an easy target for the opposition and a much more attractive topic for sensational news by the press. With a much smaller circle of supporters for the president, there is also less risk for the opposition and the press collaborating or colluding in the production of political events. The press, in contrast, tends to be conservative in reporting political events when the public mood is generally supportive of the Philippine chief executive.

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