Connected Audiences of Politics: Analyzing Twitter Conversation on Beppe Grillo and Five Star Movement Generated during Political TV Talk-Shows

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: Booth 47
Oral Presentation
Fabio GIGLIETTO , Communication Studies & Humanities, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy
Laura IANNELLI , Political Sciences, Communication Sciences and Information Engineering, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy
In the last two decades, characterized by an increasing crisis of traditional forms of politics, talk-shows have placed interesting challenges to the research on contemporary political communication and participation forms. Scholars of the “third age of political communication” have studied the cognitive, evaluative, affective effects of this mix of entertainment and information on the citizens/spectators. Recent analysis considered the increasing symbiotic relationship between political talk-shows and Twitter, by studying the “second-screen” practices in terms of audience participation to the construction of the public debate.

Referring to this approach, our study analyzed Twitter connected audiences of all the Italian political talk-shows (1,077 episodes) on air from September 2012 to April 2013. This period covers significant political events related to the 2013 Italian General Election (24th and 25th February), from the electoral campaign to the Five Star Movement’s electoral achievement, and its institutional consequences.

We aimed to understand: how much do “connected audience” of political talk-shows discuss on Twitter around M5S, in the different phases of the “permanent” electoral campaign (RQ1); Is the presence of M5S, Grillo and other representatives as a topic of conversation on Twitter correlated with specific characteristics of the aired episodes (talk-show, audience, phases of the campaign, issues)? (RQ2).

While significantly less frequent than conversations mentioning the right and left coalition, Tweets around M5S were present during the three phases of the campaign. Furthermore, the analysis identified significant amounts of Twitter discussions around M5S generated during the episodes dedicated to specific issues (political backstage, polemics, strategies of the M5S, scandals, anti-politics).