Journalism & Democracy: Evaluating the Quality of News Reporting on COVID-19 in the Netherlands

Kranten en ipad

Journalism plays a crucial role in society as a provider of trustworthy information for the public. It performs an essential function for democracies by critically observing politics. With the rise of social media, political polarisation, and fake news, traditional journalism remains indispensable for an informed citizenry. However, as the Press Freedom Monitor concluded in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected press freedom. Criticism and hostility towards journalism pertaining to its coronavirus reporting, which was said to be too government-friendly, arose among groups in society. Research from the University of Antwerp (Walgrave & Kuypers 2021) equally invites questions about the quality of coronavirus coverage by news media.

This project interrogates the extent to which coronavirus coverage by newspapers in the Netherlands contributed to a healthy democracy. It takes an interdisciplinary angle and deploys computational methods based on Natural Language Processing (NLP) for charting discourses through diverse textual data (topic modelling, NER) and pays attention to the evolution of coronavirus coverage over time. Departing from newspapers, it also takes into consideration TV show transcripts, transcripts of parliamentary debates and social media postings. 


dr. Karin van Es, associate professor Media & Culture
dr. Dennis Nguyen, assistant professor Digital Methods & Literacy
dr. Dong Nguyen, assistant professor Computer Science
prof. dr. Antal van den Bosch, professor of Language, Communication and Computation

Grant funding agency and (co-)funding (non-)academic partners

Algemeen Dagblad (DPG Media)