Lawmaking and news making : different worlds after all? A study on news coverage of legislative processes in the Netherlands
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
The journal of legislative studies. - London
, p. 534-552
University of Antwerp
Over the last decades the importance of the media for understanding the functioning of democracy in the contemporary world has become evident. Yet despite the developing body of knowledge on political communication and newsworthiness there is little research about why and how the media cover legislative processes in a European context. Therefore this study analyses media coverage of lawmaking in the Netherlands and investigates which characteristics of legislation influence the amount of news coverage. It shows that only one out of five laws is covered at all and that no more than one out of 10 laws receives substantial media attention. This leads to the question why some laws get extensive news attention, whereas most laws are completely ignored. Press coverage for the legislative process turns out to be both selective and predictable. Traditional news values such as political conflict and significance are good predictors of media coverage for lawmaking. In addition, laws are largely ignored when they are part of the budgetary cycle.