The media as political agenda-setters : journalists perceptions of media power in eight West European countries
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
West European politics. - London, 1978, currens
, p. 1-23
University of Antwerp
Studies in different countries have shown that the media can influence the attention politicians devote to different issues. However, knowledge about the cross-national contingencies of the political agenda-setting power of the media is limited. This study compares the perceptions of journalists of the political agenda-setting power of the mass media in eight parliamentary democracies with varying media and political systems: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Building on a power balance perspective, the article looks at the autonomy of the media system (audience reach and political control) and the concentration of power in the political system (number of political parties, concentration of executive power) to contextualise the role of the media in political agenda-setting. Journalists perceive most media influence in Norway and Sweden and least in Spain. The results indicate that the power balance between the media and political actors to a large extent reflects the institutional structure of the political system, but that media characteristics such as the autonomous position of television should also be taken into account.