I started to read Ewan Crawford‘s article on the opinion pages in the Scottish quailty dailies in the hope that it would supply some more tips on how to understand, conceptualize and operationalize deliberation – but in this regard I wasn’t really satisfied.
The paper recounts results of a content analysis of two Scottish “broadsheet” daily newspapers, trying to answer the question – to what extent do these contribute deliberative democracy.
(The issue enjoys perhaps even more currency in Scotland than in most European countries, since, as I learnt from the article, Scotland only has a parliament (with legislative power over domestic policy areas such as health, education and criminal justice) since 1999.)
In the final analysis, Crawford finds that
The opinion pages [of The Scotsman and The Herald] alone [as opposed to them being seen as a link in a chain of argumentation] provide limited evidence for those who hoped newspapers could make a meaningful contribution to a new sort of democracy in Scotland.
That is perhaps not so surprising. However I’m not sure how to consider the results of the study, since the theoretical background on which it is founded seems quite thin, and perhaps not as thoroughly conceptualized as it would be necessary. I also felt that the content analysis involved some methodological shortcomings, such as no clear operationalization of deliberation, vague coding principles and lack of reliability testing.
Crawford, Ewan (2009): A new sort of democracy? – The opinion pages in the Scottish daily quality press. Journalims 10(4): 451-472.