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Make way for rage writers! Research project analyses letters to the editor in the Kronen Zeitung

June 17, 2020

In a joint research project between the FHWien der WKW and the University of Innsbruck, letters to the editor in the Kronen Zeitung were investigated. The results clearly show a more negative tone than in articles of the editorial office. The most popular topics: EU, Security and Migration

Kronen Zeitung
©APA/AFP/JOE KLAMAR

Letters to the editor support the democratic opinion-forming process, because citizens, side by side with politicians, can communicate their opinions and points of view on current issues to a broad public. The Kronen Zeitung even makes space for this seven days a week, on two to three pages.

Together with Lore Hayek and Manuel Mayrl (University of Innsbruck), Uta Rußmann (FHWien der WKW) used quantitative content analysis to examine 530 letters from readers in the Kronen Zeitung during the 2008, 2013 and 2017 national election campaigns. In addition, the political positions of Kronen Zeitung readers (people who stated that they regularly read the Kronen Zeitung) were drawn from the AUTNES post-election survey.

Brief summary: Letter to the editor pages differ from the editorial section of the Kronen Zeitung in terms of the main topics – these complement the agenda of the Kronen Zeitung. While foreign policy and labor market policy are more likely to be found in the editorial section, the letter writers mainly deal with the topics of migration, security and the EU. And the readers’ letters reflect the opinions of the (regular) readership of the Kronen Zeitung. However, the tone of the reader letters is much more negative than the tone of the articles in the newspaper’s politics section.

Dissatisfaction is particularly widespread when it comes to the election campaign. Letter to the editor pages therefore offer citizens room to vent their feelings!

The results were published this month in Journalism Studies and can be read in detail there. The authors have also published an article in the political science blog on derstandard.at (both links in sidebar).