Hoorcollegeaantekeningen Political Communication and Journalism

Deze samenvatting is gebaseerd op het studiejaar 2013-2014.

Hoorcollege 1


What is political communication?

Political communication is the interaction between politics, media and the public. It’s a triangle with politics, public and the media. There are interactions between them, you can go to public from media through politics etcetera. Some of these interactions are more important than others.

Political communication deals with the relationship between political actors, media and the citizen. Media are crucial in this part, but not always to the same extent and in the same way. Media is very important in the triangle.

Does political communication evolve?
Yes, they do. In this time political communication is less predictable. That’s because people make their own choices now. Evolutions go together with larger societal trends like individualization, depillarization, the crisis of parties, increased voter volatility, commercialization etcetera.


Strömbäck: (an important article)

Strömbäck says it’s all about process. The relationships evolve through time. There are four stages, they don’t have to follow each other. They can move forward and backward.

1.     First phase of mediatization. How much of the communication from public and politics go through media? Also called mediation: when the media become the main communication channel between public and politics. It’s simply seeing that the media become important in the public sphere. Not a negative connotation.

2.     Second phase of mediatization. Media become more independent, higher journalistic professionalism, the political system still have the upper hand, media do not mediate messages unconditionally anymore. They have a stronger position here and can make the decision not to bring some political news to the people. Political power isn’t dominating anymore. Not a negative connotation.

3.     Third phase of mediatization. Media become so independent that other actors have to adapt to them. Media have the upper hand, but are still external to the political system. Politicians have to further increase skills to do this adaption of the media logic. Politicians need to learn how to deal with media. They need to follow the format, content, grammar and rhythm of the media, especially in campaigns.

4.     Fourth phase of mediatization. Politics do not only adapt, they adopt the media logic. Standards of media logic/news worthiness become part of governing processes (evaluation of issues and policies). Media is no longer external and politicians who need to answer to people (through media) are most affected. Like politicians who get elected.


Mazzoleni & Schulz: 1999

Does mediation go this far? Is Strömbäck right? They say mediation does go this far. The fourth phase of mediatization will not happen, at least not as a global trend. Media will never take over the political system. Moderation of mediatization, depending on de political system, the media system, the strength of parties etcetera. It can change over countries. Mutagenic: change in the basis of politics. The political game has changed due the power of media.

They have made a list of 5 factors that can be important: what contributes to mediatization of politics?

1.     Gatekeeping/selection: the media need to select material, journalistic news values dominate. Media have their own process to select material.

2.     Media-constructed public sphere: as soon as things are discussed between politics and public media plays a very important part. The public sphere is boiled down to media coverage, that’s the power the media gets.

3.     Media logic = commercial logic: people can get attracted to specific elements.

4.     Symbiotic relationship politics/media – reciprocal effects. They need each other. They need to interest their audience. The media do not only benefit from politicians, politicians also benefit from the media.

5.     Media taking positions on issues = legitimate function of media (e.g. editorial, opinion pieces). There is a historical need for media. Media always had a political function.


Problems of increased mediatization:

-        Negativity

-        Focus on people, rather than issues

-        Focus on short term problems

-        Focus on conflict

-        Focus on Horse race (e.g. polls)

-        Too much power for media

-        Information is not clear/understandable for the audience


What do we expect from media?

There are 5 functions of media in a democratic society (McNair, 2003)

1.     Information (inform the citizens) media should inform the public.

2.     Education, explaining what events and facts mean.

3.     Platform function, the exchange of ideas, to create a public sphere.

4.     Watchdog function, we expect media to control the politics a bit, publicity for what politicians do (wrong). When politicians do something bad, the dog (media) barks.

5.     Channel function, political, ideological opinions need to find their way to the people. Politicians can bring their ideological view.


Asp (2007)  has another model, where you see these 5 functions.

Threats to performing these functions, what do we need them to do?

·        Political communication needs to be present in the news media coverage, while at the same time it needs to be accessible and understandable for the public.

·        Political actors regain control over media content (lack of pluralism and independence).

·        Commercialization, leading to decreased news quality.

·        The audience not being able to process the information provided. People may watch the news, but they don’t manage to find out what it means. All functions are not fulfilled then.

These points are related to the functions, the functions don’t work in these situations.


Control over media content:

·        Lack of independence of media

·        Lack of internal and external pluralism

This depends on things like censorships, state broadcasters, political decisions over the newsroom etcetera.


Quality of the news media information

This is about commercialism, about attracting an audience as large as possible. Like sensational news: news coverage that provokes the senses and emotions of audience members, thus attracting the attention of a larger audience.

3 ways to appeal to larger audiences:

1.     Topics: light news (celebrity news, human interest etc.) and sensational hard news (crime, natural disasters, accidents etc.)

2.     Format features: spectacular pictures, special camera techniques to attract and keep attention. There’s a disadvantage: people remember the form, not necessarily the content.

3.     Vividness: making the news more concrete and proximate. Making it closer to peoples life’s. It’s important for you as a person. Proximate: you can go local, recognizable. You make a link from something very far away to the home country. Like a witness report from someone of your country who is in that specific country. Concrete: focus on individual cases, examples or even exemplars.

Quality of the news media information: what do you expect? Do you expect a complete overview? Do we want the media to give you everything that’s relevant? That’s a full news standard, you get it all. Zaller says: no, we don’t want that. It’s also impossible, you need the ‘burglar alarm standard’. The public is not interested in all that boring political news. We need to alert them when it’s necessary media can select what is really important and bring those with lots of sensational characteristics, so people really see it. In the full news standard people wouldn’t really see it, because it’s too much. In this case media really get a lot of power. The burglar alarm can keep on ringing.
Problem: journalists want to stick to the full news standard, and think they do. But in reality it’s more like the burglar alarm standard.


Videomalaise (Robinson, 1975): since television came, it had only negative effects on the public. The public got low trust from it and a low sense of political efficacy. They call it ‘dumbing down’: people watch more entertainment and less news. People cannot and don’t want to process political information anymore. There’s a lot of critic on this view, because positive effects of media content are possible.


Public Quality: (Costera Meijer, 2003) not just serious and conventional news versus popular news. Public quality: journalists should focus on the audience as citizens. Proportional relevance: every part of the society need to get the news that is relevant to them. Relative to their proportion in society. She debated the black and whiteness of media. She introduced the public quality reproached: what should media do? It’s a normative thing. There are different opinions on this point.


Internet: there is no consensus what the internet does to all this. Some see the internet as even worse than television, because if offers an immense amount of information and especially entertainment elements. The videomalaise also counts for the internet, because there’s lots of entertainment. Others see it as reducing inequalities because of the increased access to information and lower barriers. 


Hoorcollege 2

Hallin & Mancini:
They were looking for systematic differences in the relationship between the media and the politics in the Western world. The European and US countries were used here, so it’s not this way in every country. There are several dimensions, where the comparisons were based on (newspaper research):

  • Structure of the media market: number of readers-> focus on mass or elite audience. 
  • Political parallelism: pluralism, links between media and political parties and or the state. Internal or external pluralism. They are interconnected. All voices of political parties are represented in the same medium: internal pluralism. External pluralism: not in the same medium, but overall in the whole system you do have pluralism. Every voice has some kind of place.
  • Journalistic professionalization: how strong, educated and autonomous are journalists. When you are high educated, they can take a strong position against politicians.
  • State intervention: how much do the state want to have something to do with the media? Are there subsidies and rules for the press? Is there censorship?

They are using this points to compare the countries. There are three models with similar characteristics:

  1. Polarized Pluralist model/Mediterranean
  • Newspaper readership is low, the focus is on elites.
  • High political parallelism, pluralism is external.
  • Low professionalization of journalism. They are weak.
  • Strong state intervention to control.

Savage deregulation: at some point for commercial media, at a certain point the state can’t control everything anymore. Then the commercial market can come in the media. Now everybody can start a television channel: suddenly everybody can start. Then you get many different television channels. There is an intense competition between them, the qualities become less good. There is a lot of sensational television, low quality television.

  1. Democratic Corporatist model
  • High newspaper circulation, focus on masses.
  • Historically a party press (polarized); but shifted to neutralism.
  • Pluralism is external, later internal
  • Strong state intervention as funder & protector


  1. Liberal model (North Atlantic)
  • Medium newspaper circulation
  • Little or no political parallelism. Neutral, but highly commercialized press. Internal pluralism.
  • Strong professionalization of journalism
  • Low government involvement, market dominated.

Convergence hypothesis: numerous factors would be influencing systems of media and politics to slowly converge to the liberal model. Societal processes are different between the countries. All the countries will resemble the one that the US has, this is called Americanization of liberalization. It’s just an hypothesis. It’s not that easy, because the American system is also changing. In the US there’s also not much neutrality.

Guest Lecture: Rens Vliegenthart
: a highly mediazed democracy. The interactions between media and politics are important. Mutual relationships between the three corners are important (public, media, politic). We are watching the politicians through the media. There’s interaction between media and politics and also an interaction between media and public. That’s the way the public learns about it, through the media. Politicians adopt there logic to what they expect journalists want them to do. A press conference can become a pseudo event then. If all media report negative about some policy, then the public automatically will think it’s not a good idea. An example of a direct approach from politics to public is Diederik Samson using twitter all the time, responding to questions of people.

Politics in the Netherlands
The characteristics of our political system. We don’t have one single party in the government. We have a multiparty system, the US has a two party system. Most of the time ten parties are in the government. If we have elections for the parliament, we all vote and the party will get a seat if they get enough votes. The state is very proportional. A lot of parties are in the government, also the small parties. In other countries the smaller parties wouldn’t be in the government. All Dutch people are represented, this wouldn’t be this way in other countries. So in points, the Netherlands are:

  • A multiparty system
  • A proportional representation
  • Coalition governments (consociational democracy)

We have two chambers, the second chamber is the most important one. It’s a quite complicated system, you don’t have to know the details. Eleven parties are currently in our parliament. You have election campaigns where the parties are confronting each other, and the day after the elections they have to work together. They have to be a coalition together, so even though they don’t think the other party is right, they have to make a compromise.

Media system in the Netherlands
We are in the North/Central Europe or Democratic Corporatist Model
We are:

  • Less commercial
  • There is a high circulation numbers of newspapers
  • Traditional partisan press, strong shift towards neutrality/professionalization
  • State regulations, emphasis on press freedom.

We used to have a pillar system, we had separate societies. Only in the elite pillar they worked together. Dutch society was structured this way, but changed rapidly in the 60’s. The connection between people and parties are less strong. The pillars are gone, but the Netherlands still have an unique public broadcast system. There is something for the Catholics, something for the Muslims etcetera.
Are there similar trends across the globe?

There is fragmentation of the political landscape, instead of three parties that are the biggest, nowadays it can go all over the place. Five parties can be big for example. This also counts for other countries, in England there are two parties now, instead of one. There is also mediatization going on. There are a lot of floating voters. There’s a lot more volatility and a lot more shifters. The public can change their opinion and vote for someone else. Because of the shifts, the campaigns are really important. Between 30 and 50 seats change because of the floating voter.

Catch-all parties: the difference between the parties become smaller. There are a lot of opinions we all share, or at least the majority. At a certain point, somewhere in the middle, are the most voters. Political parties position themselves in there. They start to look more and more on each other over time. The political system is more bounded nowadays. Parties try to get as much as votes as possible, so it’s clever to move a little to the middle.

Minority government: this was two or three years ago, this construction isn’t common in the Netherlands. This is a weird construction, because one of the three party is not really part of the government. This is because the difference between the two parties and the other parties was too big.


  • News media have become the most important source of information and channel of communication between citizens and political actors.
  • Large degree of independence of the media vis-à-vis political institutions
  • The extent to which media content is determined independently by the media’s own news values and by their need to attract a large audience, commercialism.
  • The extent to which political actors adjust their perceptions and behavior to the news media logic rather than political logic.

The political campaigns are changing through time, in political, public and the media way.
Political logic: ideologically driven to vote for a party. Political parties are the main actors in dutch society.
Public logic: in the 60’s. The journalists wanted to have the informed audience as key. They focused on what public found important.  Ideological cleavages disappeared, so the journalists had to change something. Journalist were getting independent, but the watchdog role was still on.
Media logic: the media set the rules of the game. Negativity is most important.

Changes in political news coverage

  • More attention for strategy
  • More attention for the ‘horse race’ – opinion polls. How do their behavior reflect in the polls?
  • Conflicts are stronger. It gets more personal. It’s more negative.


  • Levels of conflicts
  • Attention for persons (personalization).

The arrows on the triangle can change. There are three angles: political agenda setting, frame building and sources. There’s a difference between perceived influence versus actual influence.


Hoorcollege 3



Agenda-setting is about topics, about topics that are high on the priority list. We have different agenda’s, they interact.

Agenda-setting by media in 2 directions

  1. On the public: public agenda-setting

  2. On politics: political agenda-setting

  3. A few other possibilities, like intermedia agenda-setting

Public agenda-setting is an effect theory.

Effects 1: before (last century, before WO2):

  • Hypodermic needle: media effects are very persuasive, important, strong and direct. Media could put everything in peoples head.

  • It’s based on experiences from the war (propaganda)

  • It’s very easy to influence people

  • Media effects are large and direct

  • Media effects are about equally strong for everybody

Effects 2: (after WO2)

  • Media has an influence through opinion leaders, no direct effect from media

  • Weaker media effects because of that

Effects 3: limited effects

  • Media effects are small

  • Effects mainly confirm pre-existing attitudes and ideas.

  • There’s selective exposure (they choose what they want to watch)/perception (they see what they want to see)/memory (they remember what they already were thinking)

Two important media effect theories in political communication:

  1. Agenda-setting and priming

  2. Framing

Important are the effects on:

  1. Attitudes ( what is your opinion?)

  2. Knowledge (what/who do you know?

  3. Behavior (what do you actually do?)

Third person effect: it doesn’t affect me, but it does affect other people. They underestimate the effects on themselves and overestimate effects on others.


Public agenda-setting

The subjects media cover a lot are also the topics people find important. Issue ownership: when a certain politician or political party is considered to be exceptionally suitable to tackle a certain policy issue. When people relate to a certain party, it is very beneficial for a political party. Certain parties are connected to a certain issue and provide of this. For other topics there are other parties. When the topic comes on the public agenda, it can have an influence on who you are going to vote for. There is always reality, media makes something out of the reality and influence the perception of the people. Agenda building is the process, the interactions between the real world and the journalists making the story. The whole process is the agenda building.

Example of agenda setting: priming, issue ownership

A month before the election something becomes a large deal in the media, the quality of food for example. Then it is high on the public agenda, people think about this topic and they vote for the green party. When we want to do something about this topic, we vote for them because they are able to do something about it. The green party gets bigger because one certain issue.



Framing is articulating certain aspects of a subject, how a certain subject is brought in news coverage. The subtopic is accentuated, how is the story brought to the people?

Entman is important in this theory. He says framing holds four elements:

  1. Interpretation of the problem

  2. Attribution of causes

  3. Moral evaluation

  4. Treatment recommendation (solutions)

These elements should be present in a full grown frame.

Example: street crime, possible frame:

  1. Problem definition: street criminals are often muslims

  2. Evaluation: it is in their genes, they are like that, their religion causes it

  3. Solution: kick the criminal muslims out of the country

This is only one frame, you can also frame in a completely different frame, it will have consequences about what people think of the topic. The differences can make de differences in peoples mind.


Guest lecture Peter van Aelst

Political agenda-setting

The first idea about agenda-setting is that the media has influence on what politicians do and say. People study this because it’s about attention, if crime gets a lot attention in the news, politicians will talk more about crime. Media influences democracy, we move towards a media democracy. Politics only talk about stuff that’s salient in the news. Difference between public agenda-setting and political agenda-setting: public agenda-setting means that because something is in the news, you think about this. With political agenda-setting it’s different: you have to see that it moved from the news to the parliament. It’s not only about think what’s important, it’s also what politicians do and say.
Why do politicians react to the media?

  • It’s because the public opinion (proxy or influence on). There’s a relation with the voters.

  • What is in the news often reflects the agenda of the others, politicians react to what is in the news and the attention to the prime-minister. A lot of members of parliament don’t have always have information, they learn from it through media.

  • It’s a source of information (information reduction)

In a lot of countries politicians think media influences a lot, people think there’s not that much media influence. These are mixed evidences.
This is because: (diverging research designs)

  • The country differs (US dominance: 15/19)

  • The method differs (interviews, time-series, cross sectional)

  • Mass media type, newspapers have a different effect than television

  • Issue type (obtrusive or sensational) on some issues we don’t have experience on, like Irak, it’s unobtrusive. We learn of this issue by the media.

  • Political agenda type, what are we studying? Symbolic VS substantial. Substantial is about actual policies and symbolic is about talk (speeches). Symbolic is a first step to substantial, but not the same. The influence of symbolic is higher.

  • Time period, elections or not. In election time it’s much more the political parties themselves that set the agenda and not so much the media.


Towards a theory of political agenda-setting

Media input:

  1. Issue type

  2. Media outlet

  3. Coverage type

This goes to:
Political context: there’s a budget, so the media sometimes work slower. It determines whether we do or do not have a reaction of the media on the politicians.

  1. Election/routine times

  2. Institutional rules

  3. Internal functioning

  4. Political configuration

  5. Personal traits

This goes to:
Political adoption

  1. No reaction

  2. Fast symbolic: talking about it, like giving a press conference: someone is just talking about it. It’s easy for a politician and shows they’re paying attention to it.

  3. Slow substantial

  4. Fast substantial: there’s something in the news and de politicians react immediately

  5. Slow symbolic: not a good option, showing you care a long time after when it happened is not good


Subjective misinterpreting by politicans or shotcoming of objective agenda-setting research?

  1. Media are not the ‘real’ agenda setters, media can follow the public opinion

  2. No distinction in the general media power syndrome, politicians take the media influence maybe way too serious because it’s important for them.

  3. Shortcoming of objective studies: politicians take media into account. You decide as a politician where you talk about, because it’s not popular in the media. There’s an influence of the media before the politicians say something. So it’s hard to predict what’s going to be in the news. It can be higher than we measure in studies.

  4. -> Limitations of the agenda-setting concept


Beyond agenda-setting

Agenda-setting is only about attention. Agenda-setters are not interested in how a topic is discussed, because of this we also watch at framing. Framing is like second level agenda-setting. Framing an issue in the public debate, how do we talk about a certain issue?

Linking all actors: news can’t deal with everything all the time. When the media points something out they have to link all actors.

Speed-up or slow-down: people expect to do something, the media sometimes speed it up because they want the people to react but sometimes it’s hard to make an agreement behind the scenes, that’s a slow-down.



  1. The Contingency of Media Power

  • Variations across time: media has become more important

  • Variations across countries: difference between for example Sweden and Spain

  • Variations across types of politicians: real political power? News is less crucial then. Politicians can ignore it then

  • Variations across issues: the less we know about our own experience, the more the media can tell us.

  • Variations across types of impact (how-who-what). Who: is the person popular? What: how do they communicate? The what is the most substantial one.

The point is here that the degree of mediatization is an empirical question.

  1. The reciprocity of the relationship

The relationship between media and politics work both ways.
“The mass media make and break politicians”.
“Politicians often use journalists by leaking information”.


Hoorcollege 4

Guest lecture Marjolein Moorman

Political marketing: positioning and promotion of a political brand.
Political marketing are about key questions like:

  • Which political brand?

  • Which message?

  • Which issues?

  • Which target groups? etc.

The interesting thing of political marketing is that everything counts. Everything has to be right. The ad has to be right, but also the debate has to be right.

Gore VS Bush: Bush won, because people liked him better. He's more personal.

All the time:

  • permanent campaigning

  • policy has become part of the campaign

Political marketing = growing business

  • The US budget doubles every two years.

  • 8 billion a year right now.

Political marketing is also growing business in popular culture. It's not a new concept, it's since politics exist. March 78: local elections in Pompeii. Of course it's more professional nowadays. Every little thing is important in a campaign.

Factors influencing the rise of political marketing

  • Decreasing ideological pillarization and polarisation: political parties are promoting their marketing ideas, they aren't that different from other political parties.

  • Increasing volatility of electorate: the polls are volatile,

  • Changes in media landscape (more supply, more interaction), more competition.

  • Changes in journalistic role.

Media nowadays are critical or even cynical. because the pillarization is gone, media doesn't chose a party anymore. NCRV was always for the CDA, but they don't identify themselves like this anymore

Changes in journalistic role

  • Game framing: election campagins increasingly reported in terms of winners and losers

  • Entertainisation and tabliodisation: style instruments of popular content.

The political product, not just the party name or the politician:

  • Ideology

  • People

  • Symbols

  • Activities

  • Policy, etc.


Positioning: placing the political brand in the electoral marketplace

  • Challenger or incumbant

  • Change or stability

  • Hope or fear (main frames)

Two developments:

  • personalizing: partyleader as embodiment of party. is it smart to put the face of the politician on the poster? Personal like Diederik Samsom, made it stand out more.

  • Market orientation: market intelligence, ask your voters. after that you make your political brand. then you start communication.

Market research:

  • Target group research (segmentation)

  • Positioning (of your brand)

  • Polls (how are you doing in here)


The electorate total

  • People who always vote for you, loyal

  • People who are considering voting for you (they think about it, not sure yet)

  • People who have already decided to vote for another party


Your own electorate

  • Potential voters

  • Weak voters (GOTV, get out to vote): not everyone is voting. Obama did this, told people they really had to vote. That's one of the reasons he won.

  • Strong voters, they will always vote. are less important in your marketing plan.


Five markets in political campaigns: (kotler & kotler), influence the candidate

  1. Electorate

  2. Media: they have to air you in a favorable way

  3. Party organisation: they need many volunteers. good party organisation.

  4. Sponsors: you need money, especially in the US.

  5. Interest groups: PAC's (political action committees), they have a lot of money and can campaign for you as a candidate


Dirty campaigning (often by PAC's)

  • 50% of advertising in US

  • 80% of Obama's 2012 campaign, he was under attack so he attacked back (in 2008 he didn't do this).

  • Direct or indirect (through interest groups)

  • Issue centered or candidate centered

  • This can have a backlash effect/boomerang effect

  • Rebuttals


Reason to attack:

  • You're behind in the polls

  • You're under attack

  • You do not have a clear point of view yourself, or your point of view is already worn out

  • The elections are the hand


Spin: professionals who help you to get a favorable picture in the media. Spindocters help them with this. They set the agenda, bring your issues across and frame them the way they are favorable for you.

Stage management: how important is the environment in which a message is given? ''Crematorium agreement'' : one of the political marketeers had to say that this wasn't good stage management. The agreement was made in a black surrounding, which is why it's called this way.


Second part of the lecture by Knut

Election Campaigns: key terms for election news coverage

1. Electoral volatility/floating voters
Electoral volatility: the amount of people who don't vote consistently for the same party. they can change vote easily. They're not stuck to their vote voice. This is increasing.

Floating voters: those people who don't vote for a fixed party and have not made a final choice in an election campaign context. They are important for campaign messages.
Difference: first in general, in the second people are involved.

2. Indirect communication/direct communication
This difference is important. Are political actors completely in control or not?
Direct: political party -> public. (posters, meetings, interpersonal communication etc.)
Indirect: via media who partly control the information stream. (news media coverage, entertainment shows, debates etc.) They have to see the context here. The way it's presented is not in control of the politician.
3. Permanent campaign

It's the idea that, to keep public support, political actors need to be campaigning all the time, not just in election times.
They need a large and permanent professional staff because of this (spindoctors), it is expensive. There's an important role for Opinion Polls.
4. Horse race coverage

The focus is on winners and losers. who is doing well in the polls? what are they doing about it? it's strategic framing from the media, how do the politicians react to that?
5. Hoopla coverage - events
The focus is on campaign events. the atmosphere of the campaign and the classical election campaign rituals ad opposed to focus on issues. Also includes personalization.
6. Personalization: next week
Focus on people, put also on capacities, private life and emotions.
7. Sound bites/ ink bites
These are direct quotes, or selected pieces of what somebody said. They get shorter all the time, but politicians fight anyway to get it. They need to speak in short bits, so they can be cut as a sound bite.

Ink bite is the same, but it's for newspaper quotes.

8. Negativity of media coverage
The focus from media on failures, scandals, lies, problems of politicians and political parties. It feeds anti-political feelings of the people and cynicism. It could also mobilize people in some cases.

9. Fairness/balance
Do all parties get the same attention? Or fair attention? Of course, this is not true. They need a benchmark: what is fair? all the parties get the same? as much time as they have seats in the parliament? In election times it is a lot more balanced and more fair coverage than in regular time periods.

10. Negative campaigning/positive campaigning
You can talk about yourself in a positive way, show your strengths. you can also talk about the others in a negative way, show their weaknesses. It depends on factors if it's a good idea. It depends on:

  • Position in the polls, if you're behind you should take the risk

  • Time span until the next elections, you shouldn't do it just before the elections. you should first show what you do stand for.

  • Behavior of the opposition: are you under attack? Then you should attack to.

  • Your own behavior

  • Who owns the issue? It's about issue-ownership

  • Salience of the issue: when the issue is important for a lot of people.

  • Incumbent/challenger: you do better than them


Hoorcollege 5


Guest lecture Ruud Wouters


Media attention is important. Social movements are resource poor, they don’t have direct access to the political decision making process. They don’t have real power, don’t push on the buttons in parliament. They can be ignored really easy. They are beggars at the policy gates. To have impact they need to go public, to go in to the public debate. Together they can’t be ignored. Their main channel to do this is de mass media.
Mass media has three functions for social movements.:

  1. Scope enlargement: media attention enlarges the scope of a conflict. By gaining media attention they can show their claim in the public sphere. The public becomes aware of a problem.

  2. Mobilization: they can announce a demonstration in the media, so that people are aware. Direct action mobilization. When the issue is already high on the media agenda, it’s easier. It’s a long term effect, when you get in the media more often. They are inclined to follow you, this increases your mobilization intention. Often journalists wait, they won’t cover you in advance (only if you are an union). Only if it’s successful, you will get covered by a journalist.

  3. Validation: by paying attention to a movement, to show it has a right to exist it gets validation.

An example from scope enlargement is: like tree falling unheard in the forest there is no protest unless protest is perceived and projected (Lipsky).

Media attention is difficult. There is mutual dependency: journalists need activists, and activists need journalists. There is a relationship movement. It’s asymmetrical sometimes. One must be the underdog.

What kind of news will be made? Media ownership can influence how television stations talk about the movements. A certain vision of society is shown in a television statements, chosen by political and business elites.
Newsroutines has to do with the day-to-day practices from a journalist. An example is the beat system: they need to beat a certain topic. Like crime, or political beat. It’s because they are so focused on politicians, so that politicians can make it to the news easily. There isn’t a social movement beat, so it’s hard for them to come in the news. They’re structural in a hard position.
Journalists have to report objective, if they pay too much attention to movements: they look like advertisements. If they constant pay attention to a movement, it looks like the journalist stands behind it.
News values can be profitable for movements, because there is drama, conflict, spectacle. But there’s also a downside. There are twelve elements that make something newsworthy. The elements that make an event newsworthy will be stressed in the newsproduct.

Protest is the most efficient way to pass media gates, but it can also be more harmful then helpful.

Protest paradigm: trivialize (talk about expectation, expect: 1000 people only 100 show up), marginalize (freakshow, weirdo’s at the demonstrations), criminalize (everyone gets in a fight) and demonize (all these bad expects) protesters. The most important characteristics are the pattern, script and template. Some journalists don’t show the theme, but journalists often ignore this: they just pay attention to the events. They show pictures of violence and not the message. Social movements can make a decision between no attention or bad attention. The movements want issue driven coverage, but they get event driven coverage. There’s only gloom and doom.

5 remarks:

  1. Communication, different fields

  2. Unconditionally? Gloom and doom, but which conditions?

  3. Qualitative case of the field. Now it should be quantitative. To tease out conditionality and generalize.

  4. There was a lot of focus on newspapers, there has to be a study about television news

  5. USA is always researched, now it should be Belgium

Research questions

There are three research questions, which make a distinction between selection, description and reaction. There are descriptive and explanatory questions.


He used two datasets to research this. Police archive data and media data.


  • Selection: only 10 percent of the protest events came in the news. Public broadcasters think protest is more important (30%), you can see this because they show it more than the commercial station. (20%) It’s more present, prominent and more volume. Demonstration size is the most strong predictor in the models. New social movements have less members, so they are in disadvantaged. They stage events that are theatrical and dramatic to get attention from the media.

Other factors that are important: size, disruption (misbehave, arrests), strong organizations (unions are strong), weekend protest (stronger), year.

  • Description: Belgian television is substantial, in two demonstration reports out of three more attention is paid to the issue than the event. In 40% of the protest reports there is more attention to the issue. When a protest is disruptive, there’s more attention to the event. But it’s about the size, which give an exemplar. Strong organization get more thematic reports. And the public broadcaster pay more attention to the thematic reports, the commercial broadcasts give more attention to the sensational views. So: there’s more thematic coverage (contrary to the US).

  • Reaction:
    Political targets: size (+, voting with the feet) and reactive protest (more accountability than responsiveness)
    Third parties: size (+, issue public: more reaction, more positive reactions), disruption (--: more negative reactions), unions (--: strong cleavage effect: more negative reactions).


  • Media attention is important. This is coming out of agenda setting studies.

  • Media attention is difficult.

  • It’s not only gloom and doom. There are certain conditions. Like size (homerun), disruption (selection), symbolic action (selection), organization (cumulative inequality), reactive= reaction.

Second part of the lecture

Personalization: the way politicians bring themselves in the media nowadays. Personalization is usually understood as a focus on people (individual politicians), rather than on parties. It’s a process. So there’s more and more a focus on individual politicians.” It’s the general belief that the focus of news coverage has shifted from parties and organizations to candidates and leaders.” (van Aelst, Sheafer, Stanyer)

Why do we need to study personalization? Why is it there?
It’s related to the usual subjects, these things are seen before. It’s the same societal trend, more entertainment and more sensational elements. :

  • The weakening of traditional ties between people and parties. It’s called depillarization. You had ideologically a structure. There wasn’t much to do about changing people’s minds.

  • Evolutions in the media environment. For example, the increased importance of visuals due to rise of television. It’s a lot easier to show a politician than to show a political party on television. Media commercialized, it’s a typical trend.

This can be done not only by media, but also by people (voting for a person, rather than a party) or politics (putting individual politicians center stage).

Improve the concept, two different aspects:

  1. Individualization: individual politicians are presented and considered as the main actors in politics. It’s part of the personalization definition.

  2. Privatization: shift in attention for politicians in a public role to their private role.

These are two different things, with different implications. There aren’t both equally problematic. Individualization is less of a threat to issue and policy attention than privatization.

The forms of personalization: van Aelst et al: important table. You can see this in the powerpoint or the article.

Personalization: perception versus reality. People think there’s a lot of personalization. There are some causes of personalization.

4 causes (Vliegenthart, 2012):

  1. More opportunities to get to know politicians better as a person (debates, info- and entertainment)

  2. Internet (opportunity for individual political communication)

     3. Rising of many one-person parties lately

     4. More attention for individual power battles within politics (horse race, conflict & strategic framing)


Hoorcollege 6


Research on the EU

Why some like the EU and others don’t:

  • Men are more supportive on the EU

  • Higher educational groups are more supportive

  • Individuals in executive and managerial occupations are more supportive

  • Post-materialistic values are related to higher support

  • Higher levels of political sophistication are related to higher support (the more you know about the EU, how more positive you are to the EU)

  • Positive evaluations of the incumbent government are related to higher support (if they liked the government and the government liked the EU -> positive attitude to the EU)

  • Positive economic evaluations are related to higher support

  • Center-ideological preferences are related to higher support

  • Pro-immigration sentiments are related to higher levels of support

Trend: from hard (economics etc.) focus of the beginning, it shifted to soft news. What do the media do to this, what do they do with the information? How is the EU covering the topics themselves?

Visibility of EU news in TV newscasts in 1999 and 2004:
it matters a lot in which country you live and how much information you get about the EU. Over the time more knowledge is developed, because of the news coverage about the EU

What do we (not) know?

  • Media is important for informing and engaging EU citizens.

  • Europeanization: Horizontal (how much news about other EU countries), vertical (amount of coverage from top to down about the EU), segmented (specific issues, segment is parted: it comes and disappears)

  • General conclusion about EU news: it is rather invisible.

  • We can speak of degrees of Europeanization, not about an European public sphere. There is another amount of attention in all countries that are part of the EU.

Explaining change in visibility:

What is it that drives the coverage? There are some things that change the visibility:

  • Public broadcasting, makes EU news more important +

  • Tabloid, makes EU news less important –

  • # Of EPE, -

  • Elite are only positive, there’s less news. That’s logical, because if all the parties are already behind it, they don’t need to talk about it in media anymore. –

  • Elite dispersion, they don’t agree with everything from the EU. This has a positive effect on the visibility of the EU. +

Second order elections model: in a country the most important election is the one of the country, the second one is to the sub national (regions etcetera) or for example those of the EU. Despite the fact that the EU are not national elections, they handle national problems. Issues that are important in national politics are also important in European elections. But people often think that only the national elections are important.

This has slowly changed over time, attitude against the EU is important also to vote for national elections.

The attitude changes in:

  • Referenda about European integration

  • National elections (proves the second order elections model wrong)

  • European elections

Conclusions so far:

  • There are multiple dimensions of EU attitudes, depends on the country/education etc.

  • There is an explanation of EU voting

  • Impact EU attitudes varies between countries, mostly important EU countries with ‘high party polarization’.

Campaign effects:

  • Agenda setting

  • Priming candidate evaluations

  • Framing

  • Vote choice – persuasion – vote change (one of the biggest campaign effects)

New elections in 2014: what will happen? Will this be a continuation of the second order elections? Will this be about the economic crisis? The turnout of the election is a very important thing. Euroskepticism is becoming important, people can be against the EU or against immigration. So there are new initiatives that are going against the EU.

Esser (2008) (important article)

Important elements:

  • Importance of visual information

  • Transnational news culture (evolution), over several countries

  • Different news cultures

Transnational news culture: are practices and the news content similar across countries?

  1. Reporters words is more present in news than politicians words (shrink in soundbite). Politicians get less time, journalists get more time.

  2. Reporters act in more controlled environments. Journalists get professionalized help from for example spindocters. What journalists want to get out is totally controlled by themselves. When politicians say something, journalists interpret it themselves.

  3. Image bites are used as often as soundbites. There’s not just words, but also visual aspects of communication.

  4. Commercial channels: higher preference for image bites.

  5. Difference in length of soundbites is decreasing in general. Maybe there is a movement to a transnational newculture.

  6. Only rarely candidate-unfriendly images.

National news cultures:

First: pragmatic versus sacerdotal journalistic culture. (= attitudes and ideas of journalists).

Sacerdotal: politic statements and activities are intrinsically important and as something that deserves to be reported authentically and extensively. Politics is something sacred, politicians are powerful.

Pragmatic: political material should fight its way into news programs on its news value only and in consideration of the newsworthiness of competing stories. The media content needs to be relevant. Journalists are powerful.

Journalistic interventionism: difference between pragmatic and sacerdotal. In pragmatic there’s a lot of intervention by journalists, in sacerdotal this is ignored. It’s journalists taking control of for example the content.

There are many factors that are influencing the interventionist reporting style.

Conclusion: do national news cultures still matter? : Yes, they do.
Esser distinguishes 3 news cultures:

  1. The US: interventionist, journalists take control and decide when politicians say something on TV. They will only get short soundbites.

  2. Germany/UK: moderately interventionist, also important interpretation by journalists. Give the politicians some space, but there is some interpretation by the journalists.

  3. France: non-interventionist. Politicians get the time to explain what they want to say. Journalists don’t want to interpret what they’re saying.

This article was about content, and explaining content. Production and context can be explaining factors.

Shoemacker & Reese: hierarchy of influence. There are several levels of influence on news content. The most important is individual journalist, than media routines, than organizational influences, than system level and then ideological level.


Important for the exam:

  1. Lecture slides are important, with the important stamp it’s very important.

  2. Course literature: important where it links to anything that is mentioned in class.

  3. Working group slides

  4. In class assignments can be rephrased into an exam question

  5. 5 questions in working group are questions that could easily be part of the exam


Hoorcollege 7


  1. International journalism

  • War reports

  • Peace journalism

  • Foreign news

  • Domestication

International journalistic: what is foreign news or international news? This distinction is not always clear. Like Laura Dekker, she is Dutch but she travels the world: is this foreign news? It depends on the situation. EU: is this domestic news? We are part of it. It is very difficult. It’s not easy to distinguish and to make a clear separation.
A solution: look at different aspects.

  1. The location: where does it happen? The location is important, but you miss some nuances

  2. Involvement: are you involved with the news?
    You can also make a combination

Four categories in what is foreign news: (based on location and involvement)

  1. Purely domestic news

  2. Domestic news with foreign involvement (look at location first, than involvement of other countries)

  3. Foreign news with domestic involvement (involvement from in this case the Netherlands)

  4. Purely foreign news

Transglobal news: news from out of space.

Domestication: “foreign news is increasingly framed and presented in a way that makes it more relevant to audiences in the home country.” Next to the national domestication process there is the created domestication by journalists. You can add elements so it looks like it’s linked to your home country. You can relate this to proximity: bringing all kinds of news closer to the daily life’s of people.

Domestication how does it work: sometimes it is natural, we focus on the fabricated links. Content:

  • Links to the home country are mentioned (symbols): like the Belgian chocolate.

  • Links to the home country exaggerated. They blow it up. When there is a disaster and one of the hundred victims is of your country, they make it like it’s a really big deal.


  • Calling a national of the home country at the location: who is there, imagine an earthquake in Iran: a lot of victims. The deciding factor to bring it or not, is to call a person that is Dutch, lives in Iran and was there. There is a link then: so this is important. This happens a lot in foreign news report.

  • Calling a national of the home country around (not necessarily a witness)

  • Sending/using a reporter from the home country and showing this (e.g. stand up). Takes a little bit time, but there’s involvement from your country then. It’s a technique to make people think it is more important.

  • Calling a national of the country of the event who lives in the home country. So you could call an Iranian and ask some questions about if they know what happened in Iran. This is also a link to the Netherlands, because people of that country live here: so it’s important for us.


There are different numbers and different goals on foreign news:

  • Us: low amount of foreign news, but a lot higher with their involvement: they feel they are always important

  • Egypt: very high amount of foreign news: distraction from home news + control by the army

  • China: quite some foreign news, BUT: foreign news is about that the West is bad. There are only bad things happening there says China.

EXAMPLE: China wanted to try to spin some things into a good thing, they try to make everything that happens in China as positive as possible. They wanted to make pollution a good thing.

  • Unifies the Chinese people: everyone relates to it

  • It makes China more equal

  • It raises citizen awareness of the cost of China’s economic development

  • It makes people funnier

  • It makes people more knowledgeable

  • Difficult to bomb China
    It looks like a joke, but China really wanted to spin this into something positive. They create a lot of arguments for this.

What about the audience: what interests people is much more in the news. People need sensational news to be interested in news. In general there are similarities between what people want and what they get in news.


  • For domestic news: interests of the audience and foreign news content are very similar

  • For foreign news: not always so.

How to make foreign news:
Your own foreign correspondent: comes from your home country and is sent for the information to another country. This person would get the chance to build up a local network. They would know who to call when something happens immediately. They would follow local media, they would be specialized in that countries media. They would be very independent, the boss is far away. If this person is a Dutch person send to China, that person would know what Dutch people think is important to cover in China. It’s an issue of money that we don’t have correspondents everywhere. These large costs are cut if possible.
Do correspondents actually make a difference for news content?
Wouters did a study on China in television news. For the public channel a certain period of time they did not have a correspondent, than they stationed a person for a few years in China. The coverage difference of China before the correspondent and when the correspondent was there was easily shown.
What was found out is that no difference for the general picture were found. That is logical, because China is such a big country. Next to that, there is much news where China is covered that is not written by the correspondent. What was found that there were specific differences. The work of the correspondent is slightly more focused on social issues, has more tone, more attention for civil society and experts and more attention for daily life. The daily life issues are not shown when the correspondent is not there. You can’t change the general picture, but you can have an influence on the quality.

Foreign correspondents: (not very important)

  • Traditional foreign correspondent

  • Foreign foreign correspondent

  • Local foreign correspondent

  • Foreign local correspondent

  • Amateur foreign correspondent

  • Parachute journalists: journalists who are based in the home country and flown in when something happens, for a short time.

So, there are three main ways to make foreign news:

  1. Correspondents

  2. Sending parachute journalists (cheaper, someone who is actually there but has less intelligence on the place)

  3. Making news from the home desk, based on material from news agencies and other broadcasters. They share material. You can’t find some extra material, that’s a limitation. It is the cheapest option of the three.

Advantages: local network, overview of the local situation, follows local media. You have something original. You can be different from other broadcasters.
Disadvantages are that it is expensive and that in large countries it is possible that your correspondent is in the biggest place, but they are not there where things are happening. They still have to fly to it, and sometimes it still takes a lot of time.

A parachute journalist:

Advantages: more flexible, less expensive than correspondent

Disadvantage: a lot of episodic news and also elite-focus due to limited knowledge

Home desk based on extern material:

Advantage: cheap, material is almost ready for use

Disadvantage: not much control over content and accuracy, you get it from somebody else. You have to assume other people checked if it was true, but you didn’t do it yourself. It is indirect.

How to make foreign news: special cases

Is the ideal journalist objective? No, this is not always the best way. What is important is that a journalist is neutral.
Embedded journalism:
You go along (usually an army) and you are safe in to warzone. You are limited in your freedom because you can’t leave them. The army tells you then what you can and can’t see. There is control by the army. The army protects you. You won’t get sensitive information than. There is a bond between soldiers & journalists. That’s because they are in the same (stressful) situation. You get a picture from the warcountry, but you’re not sure it is the right picture. There are problems with diversity than, not always because they intend to.

Journalism of attachment:
Ruigrok (2008). It’s a way of public journalism. You do journalism for a cause. You want to expose a problem, generate a discussion in society. Sometimes journalists deviate from the concept of neutrality. A journalists can colour is, than a opinion is present. You can do this in an editorial, then it is open that you show your opinion. You can also put it in the actual coverage, than it is misleading.

Instrumental actualization: you are going to focus on certain information, making it bigger than it is. You can also hide certain information. According to how it fits with the journalists engagement.

Oppertune witnesses: the choice not to use certain sources. Those sources are selected saying what the journalist wats to, what fits in the engaging character of the news item. This is not uncommon.

Peace journalism (versus war journalism):

  • Reports also about the background, not just the pure facts (like war journalism does).

  • Focuses on causes for the problems not on who is guilty (who’s to blame).

  • Focus on solutions, and contributes to that instead on focus who the winner is (like war journalism does). It is also preventively and after the conflict.

  • Provides a platform to all voices involves, not just elite-focused (war journalism). It wants to also look for a voice that doesn’t have easy access to media.

  • They avoid polarization, does not follow the we-against-them style. Sees the role of journalism as part of solving conflicts. It can be more objective than war journalism. ‘

Wrap up

We discussed the interaction between politics, media and the public.

Some conclusions:

  1. Media content

Conflict and negativity, sensationalism, horse race/strategy framing, personalization. Many of these are found to be increasing. Reasons of these elements are: larger societal trends (technological evolutions, depilirazation, weakening parties, commercialization)

Media is more independent and more focused on commercial goals.

  1. Influence media on politics

  • Politicians are confronted with the media-logic, but there are different degrees of mediatization, different newscultures. There are soundbites now.

  • Information gets mixed with entertainment elements, politicians need those skills as well. They get more attention so they have to present well.

  • Important political agenda-setting effects, especially on the symbolic agenda.

  1. Influence media on the public (less focus in this course)

In general, yes there are influences from media on the public. Media are not determining all people on the same way, you don’t need to know more about this.

Final conclusion

Many concepts and theories are things that we already knew, but those are more clear now. We now can easy link things to concepts we see on daily basis. There is much more research out there, so what we learned is a little part. Most important: society, media and politics will keep on changing. Attention and research on this topic will always be highly relevant. They will never stand still.


Check page access:
Work for WorldSupporter


JoHo can really use your help!  Check out the various student jobs here that match your studies, improve your competencies, strengthen your CV and contribute to a more tolerant world

Working for JoHo as a student in Leyden

Parttime werken voor JoHo

How to use more summaries?

Online access to all summaries, study notes en practice exams

Using and finding summaries, study notes en practice exams on JoHo WorldSupporter

There are several ways to navigate the large amount of summaries, study notes en practice exams on JoHo WorldSupporter.

  1. Starting Pages: for some fields of study and some university curricula editors have created (start) magazines where customised selections of summaries are put together to smoothen navigation. When you have found a magazine of your likings, add that page to your favorites so you can easily go to that starting point directly from your profile during future visits. Below you will find some start magazines per field of study
  2. Use the menu above every page to go to one of the main starting pages
  3. Tags & Taxonomy: gives you insight in the amount of summaries that are tagged by authors on specific subjects. This type of navigation can help find summaries that you could have missed when just using the search tools. Tags are organised per field of study and per study institution. Note: not all content is tagged thoroughly, so when this approach doesn't give the results you were looking for, please check the search tool as back up
  4. Follow authors or (study) organizations: by following individual users, authors and your study organizations you are likely to discover more relevant study materials.
  5. Search tool : 'quick & dirty'- not very elegant but the fastest way to find a specific summary of a book or study assistance with a specific course or subject. The search tool is also available at the bottom of most pages

Do you want to share your summaries with JoHo WorldSupporter and its visitors?

Quicklinks to fields of study (main tags and taxonomy terms)

Field of study

Access level of this page
  • Public
  • WorldSupporters only
  • JoHo members
  • Private
Comments, Compliments & Kudos:

Add new contribution

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.