van Klingeren, Marijn, Hajo G. Boomgaarden, Rens Vliegenthart, and Claes H. de Vreese. ‘Real World Is Not Enough: The Media as an Additional Source of Negative Attitudes Toward Immigration, Comparing Denmark and the Netherlands’. European Sociological Review, vol. 31, no. 3, June 2015, pp. 268–283.
Most people are unable to accurately estimate the number of immigrants in their country. Nonetheless, it has been argued that the size of the immigrant population would affect people’s immigration attitudes. Part of the effect of immigration on attitudes occurs not so much because of real immigration ﬁgures, but rather because of media reporting about immigration. In this study, negative attitudes towards immigration are explained by investigating the impact of the salience and the tone of immigration topics in the news media vis-a` -vis the impact of immigration statistics. The cases of Denmark and the Netherlands are analysed for a period from 2003 to 2010, using a multilevel design. Overall, real-world immigration numbers have little impact. The tone of news coverage has an effect in the Netherlands: a positive tone reduces negativity towards immigration, while a negative tone does not increase negativity. We cautiously conclude that the longevity of the issue’s salience has a moderating effect.