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YouTube and the public sphere: What role does YouTube play in contributing towards Habermas’ notion of the public sphere

Buckley, Steven ORCID: 2020. YouTube and the public sphere: What role does YouTube play in contributing towards Habermas’ notion of the public sphere. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The manner in which western audiences consume and engage with news has dramatically changed within the last decade. The introduction of the video sharing platform YouTube in 2005 combined with improving internet speeds, provided a new platform from which a wide variety of content could be easily consumed. Habermas’ concept of the public sphere provides a conceptual framework to analyse how YouTube may be contributing towards a healthy democracy. By examining how various aspects of videos on YouTube uploaded to the channels of the news organisations CNN, Fox News, BBC News, Al Jazeera English and The Young Turks, this thesis aims to examine what role YouTube may play in contributing to Habermas’ concept of the public sphere. The study’s sample comprises a total of 1239 videos uploaded by the five news organisations over two separate weeks. A mixed methodological approach was taken where a content analysis and an automated sentiment analysis was conducted. The content analysis was used to determine what links if any there were across several of the variable recorded in the data collection. The automated sentiment analysis used the software SentiStrength to determine the levels of positive and negative language used in the titlesof the videos. Additionally a number of case studies regarding the types of user comments were discussed in order to explore the potential contribution they could be making towards the public sphere.The findings of this study were that the topic of the news videos did seem to play a role in the levels of user engagement with the videos. Similarly, the sentiment of the language used in the titles of the videos also had an impact, with negatively sentimented titles generated more user engagement. The exploration of user comments found that they were emblematic of similar trends found in communications research. The findings in this thesis go some way to answering the extent to which YouTube can be seen as contributing towards Habermas’ notion of the publicsphere. However, due to the aspect of emotionality that is present in the data analysed, this thesis suggests that due to the ongoing process of media hybridization, a new conceptual framework of the public sphere that acknowledges how both thoughtful discussions as well as ones which express feelings in an overt way needs to be developed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 September 2020
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 11:07

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