Local Media and Geo-situated Responses to Brexit: A Quantitative Analysis of Twitter, News and Survey Data
Societal debates and political outcomes are subject to news and social media influences, which are in turn subject to commercial and other forces. Local press are in decline, creating a "news gap". Research shows a contrary relationship between UK regions' economic dependence on EU membership and their voting in the 2016 UK EU membership referendum, raising questions about local awareness. We draw on a corpus of Twitter data which has been annotated for user location and Brexit vote intent, allowing us to investigate how location, topics of concern and Brexit stance are related. We compare this with a large corpus of articles from local and national news outlets, as well as survey data, finding evidence of a distinctly different focus in local reporting. National press focused more on terrorism and immigration than local press in most areas. Some Twitter users focused on immigration. Local press focused on trade, unemployment, local politics and agriculture. We find that remain voters shared interests more in keeping with local press on a per-region basis.