Complex decision making as a source of infotainment
Abstract In many policy processes nowadays a variety of actors is involved which results in complex decision making processes, since these different actors have various perspectives on the problem and the matching solutions. Such complex processes are difficult to grasp in short reports in newspapers or on television, especially since journalists have to deal with increasing time pressures and demands to make news items more entertaining. This leads to biases in the construction of the policy processes. In this study we examine whether the biases of fragmentization, dramatization, personalization, the authority-disorder bias and the negativity bias can be found in media reporting on complex decision making processes in the Netherlands. We conducted a quantitative content analysis on media reports on five complex water management projects in the Netherlands. We found that in these media reports stories are often fragmentized, dramatized and unfavourably towards the project, and frequently an authority is blamed for not taking appropriates measures. Certain actors take advantage of these biases more than other actors: media attention for oppositional politicians and interest groups in particular relate significantly to the media biases.