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News about the European Parliament: patterns and drivers of broadsheet coverage

Gattermann, Katjana (2011) News about the European Parliament: patterns and drivers of broadsheet coverage. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is about broadsheet coverage of the European Parliament (EP). More precisely, it studies the amount and content of news referring to the EP as well as the professional attitudes of their producers. The main purpose of the thesis is to explain variation in the press coverage. Thereby it combines political communication research with the European integration literature discussing the legitimacy of the EP. It argues that cross-country and inter-temporal variation cannot be explained by factors internal to news production alone. Instead, national parliamentary traditions impact profoundly on the way EU parliamentary affairs are reported. The thesis employs a mixed-methods research design. It conducts a quantitative content analysis of 18 broadsheets published in six European countries – Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria – over three time periods: one is a routine period of two years; the remaining two datasets are oriented at key issues and events over time. In total, 3956 newspaper articles are analysed. In addition, 18 in-depth interviews with the respective Brussels correspondents and a director at the EP Directorate-General for Communication complement the findings. While the EP receives regular coverage, the thesis finds that news are selected and presented according to the interest of the audience. Hence the domestic angle prevails in the news coverage and the EP’s own prominence and potential to generate conflict attract media attention more often when major issues are at stake. However, domestic relevance is not the only explanatory factor. While newsmakers also respond to varying levels of public support for EU membership, the thesis identifies national parliamentary traditions as a strong external driver of EP news coverage. Here, procedural characteristics and public expectations shape the amount and content of EP news as well as newsmakers’ attitudes – and more significantly so with the rising powers of the Parliament.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Katjana Gattermann
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: Hix, Simon and Chalmers, Damian

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