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Does EU Politics Become Mediatised? The Case of the EU Commission

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Presentation on theme: "Does EU Politics Become Mediatised? The Case of the EU Commission"— Presentation transcript:

1 Does EU Politics Become Mediatised? The Case of the EU Commission
Presentation at the Workshop ‘The European Public Sphere: where are we now?’ Bristol, 3 November 2008 Dr. Christoph O. Meyer, King’s College London

2 Outline The Mediatisation argument
EU-ization of coverage as precondition for Mediatisation The Case of the EU Commission Research & Policy Implications

3 Mediatisation is... Looking at medium to long-term aggregate and combined effects on the political system, not the power/relative autonomy of individual journalists or politicians Alters over time not only minor presentational aspects of the political process, but affects the workings of political institutions, processes as well as policy-output. Analytical NOT normative concept. The process of a political system accommodating and adjusting to the changes in the scale and nature of news media demands, and by doing so, is shifting resources away from other tasks and activities, particularly those relating to the legislative process. But extent to mediatisation varies across national contexts given both particularities of media (level of pressure) and political system (level of vulnerability)

4 Table 1: Causes and Effects of the Mediatization of Politics
Logics of the News Media / Causes of Mediatization Adjustments of Politics / Effects of Mediatization 1. News values such as personalisation and conflict shape news selection and prioritisation Media constructed reality seeps incrementally into political actors’ perception of the process and influences their communication/behaviour for the purpose of publicity gain 2. Agenda-setting and building assign relevance and meaning to issues/problems Political actors shift attention and resources to the most publicised topics and frame them in a similar way 3. Production process requires predictable, cost-efficient and continuous news supply Political actors employ more public relations techniques (event-staging, pre-packaging, sound-bites) and adjust decision-making to promote ‘good’ and de-emphasise ‘bad’ news 4. Partisanship and investigative journalism use critique of political actors to sharpen their profile and gain exclusivity Political actors attempt to reduce vulnerability through stricter confidentiality and gate-keeping regimes as well as relationship-building with sympathetic media organisations (politicians as journalists, proprietors/editors as politicians) 5. Aggregate effect of 1-4 & feed-back loop Political actors professionalise and upgrade public communication services, thus contributing to arms-race dynamics

5 EU-isation of news coverage
Share of European-level claimants in political news coverage up from 9 percent to 13 percent (1990 to 2002), an increase of 15 percent to 23 percent with regard to European-level actors as addressees and an increase in the share of issue-claims with a vertical European framing from 15 percent to 28 percent (Koopmans, 2004a; b). Increase from 2 percent to 9 percent in the share of articles which refer to the EU in the headline or first paragraph, and a near doubling of the share of EU-institutions being mentioned to 29 percent, with 14 percent of articles featuring them as the main subject (Sifft, et al., 2007). Rise in EU-accredited correspondents from 259 in 1976 to 1004 in Most national press contingents doubled between 1989 and 2007, such as the French (from 36 to 67) and the British (52 to 102), others even trebled such as the Italian (22 to 67) and the German (56 to 134). Rise in proportion of audiovisual media between 1991 and 2007 from 25 to 28 percent.

6 Mediatisation of EU Commission?
News values: conflict, personalisation and proximity – low impact Agenda-setting and responsiveness: the EU as a security and job provider? - low to medium impact News production process: planning and packaging EU Politics – moderate impact Investigative Journalism and scandalisation: Aiming for invulnerability – medium impact Professionalisation of public communication: towards strategic and operational innovation – low to medium impact

7 Conclusion Mediatisation does affect the EU Commission over time BUT:
Little incentives to seek mass publicity in the EU policy process given the Commission’s concern not to alienate governments and thereby endanger consensus-building in the legislative process, the lack of legitimacy of the Commission within national public spaces coupled with the difficulties of communicating across cultural and linguistic divides, the restrictions imposed on policy-responsiveness by the limited scope of the competences allocated to the Commission, technocratic and drawn-out nature of the EU policy-process is not very responsive/vulnerable to mediatisation pressures

8 Mediatisation and EU Governance: A Wider Agenda?
Impact on other EU institutions: EP & Counc and other actors in policy making: Differential empowerment and legitimacy? Constraint on ability of the EU to foster agreement on policies as national heads of government find it more difficult to communicate compromise packages? Will mediatisation thus increase the flexible governance? The causal relationship between mediatisation, politicization and the rise of Euroscepticism? Does mediatisation increase the transparency of policy-making and increase the public’s perception of being involved or does it rather accentuate cross-national conflict and dissatisfaction (fait accomplit syndrome)?

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