Modeling a controversy in the press : The case of abnormal bee deaths
NL : North-Holland Publishing Company
93 - 103 p.
Bee, Death, Controversy, Public opinion
The dynamics of opinion about the controversy of abnormal death of bees is studied among French speaking journalists using a corpus of 1467 articles published in newspapers during the period 1998–2010. From a systematic textual analysis, each article is tagged to either one of three stances to explain the phenomenon, a uni-factor cause, namely the use of pesticides, a multi-factor cause, or the absence of an understanding. On this basis, evolution of the respective proportions of each category are obtained over the 13 consecutive years, exhibiting a series of broken lines. Assuming journalists are either flexible or inflexible about their respective views, their associated proportions are extracted from the data applying Galam Unifying Frame (GUF) of opinion dynamics. The variation of inflexibles along each view is thus obtained as a function of years for the 13 years of the corpus. From those distributions the possible pressure applied on journalists from lobbying or other externalities can be inferred. In addition, the results highlight the critical advantage gained by the first whistle-blowers and underline opinion inertia in the debate.