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"Stop giving us the negatives of the other side's aims": The EU referendum through letters to the editor

Garcia-Blanco, Inaki ORCID: and Bennett, Lucy ORCID: 2022. "Stop giving us the negatives of the other side's aims": The EU referendum through letters to the editor. Journalism Studies 23 , pp. 207-223. 10.1080/1461670X.2021.2017792

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The referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU gave citizens the final say on one of the most controversial political issues in modern Britain, crossing social classes, traditional political cleavages, and political parties. In an attempt to examine how the public made sense of Brexit and its potential consequences, we analyse all letters to the editor discussing Brexit or the campaign published in British daily national newspapers in the two months before the referendum. Through a content analysis of 1419 letters, we examine the main themes, capturing the key concerns, criticisms, and political aspirations expressed by citizens. Leave messages largely dominated in Leave newspapers, whereas a wider range of voices were represented in Remain titles. Leave voices, therefore, resonated more strongly throughout the letters. Our analysis points to changing forms of public debate: in a debate dominated by negativity, readers mainly argued against leaving or remaining in the EU, as opposed to arguing in favour of these options, to the extent that some readers expressed frustration with the negativity of the campaigns, and of media coverage. Ultimately, this study tentatively explores whether these fora constituted arenas for debate, or off-line echo-chambers.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1461-670X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 December 2021
Date of Acceptance: 7 December 2021
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2023 07:26

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