Political relevance in the eye of the beholder: Determining the substantiveness of TV shows and political debates with Twitter data

Mark Boukes, Damian Trilling


Addressing the call to move beyond a simple genre classification of TV shows as either substantive (hard) news or non-substantive (soft) infotainment, we propose using social media reactions to determine a program’s political relevance. Such an approach provides information that goes beyond genre or content characteristics and reflects what really reaches an audience. Analyzing tweets about two Dutch talk shows and four U.S. primary debates, we show that audience responses to television programs differ considerably regarding their political relevance. Thereby, we demonstrate how examining online audience reactions can be employed as a sophisticated and valid way to assess the political relevance of TV programs.


infotainment, political debate, second screen, political relevance, social media

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i4.7031

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