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Over-responsibilised and over-blamed: Elected actors in media reporting on network governance. A comparative analysis in eight European metropolitan areas


Hasler, Karin; Kübler, Daniel; Christmann, Anna; Marcinkowski, Frank (2016). Over-responsibilised and over-blamed: Elected actors in media reporting on network governance. A comparative analysis in eight European metropolitan areas. Policy and Politics, 44(1):135-152.

Abstract

This article contributes to the study of democratic problems related to governance networks, by focusing on the role of the media. Two main rivalling hypotheses are examined. The functionalist hypothesis postulates that the media accurately inform the public about policy actors and their responsibilities, independent of these actors' institutional status. The media-bias hypothesis postulates an attention bias towards elected policy actors, resulting in reduced public visibility of non-elected policy actors. The analysis uses standardised data on decision-making processes and newspaper content relating to public transport and economic promotion policies in eight western European metropolitan areas. Findings are that the actor mix of governance networks is quite accurately reflected in newspaper reporting. However, elected actors are more often presented as responsible for policies ('over-responsibilised'), and they are more often blamed for policy failures than other actors ('over-blamed'). The extent of this media bias depends on commercial pressure on media outlets. We also show that variations of this general pattern are linked to different types of media systems found across the cases under scrutiny.

Abstract

This article contributes to the study of democratic problems related to governance networks, by focusing on the role of the media. Two main rivalling hypotheses are examined. The functionalist hypothesis postulates that the media accurately inform the public about policy actors and their responsibilities, independent of these actors' institutional status. The media-bias hypothesis postulates an attention bias towards elected policy actors, resulting in reduced public visibility of non-elected policy actors. The analysis uses standardised data on decision-making processes and newspaper content relating to public transport and economic promotion policies in eight western European metropolitan areas. Findings are that the actor mix of governance networks is quite accurately reflected in newspaper reporting. However, elected actors are more often presented as responsible for policies ('over-responsibilised'), and they are more often blamed for policy failures than other actors ('over-blamed'). The extent of this media bias depends on commercial pressure on media outlets. We also show that variations of this general pattern are linked to different types of media systems found across the cases under scrutiny.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:network governance, democratic accountability, political communication, metropolitan areas
Language:English
Date:January 2016
Deposited On:21 Jan 2016 09:29
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:54
Publisher:Policy Press
ISSN:0305-5736
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1332/030557315X14434668993301
Official URL:http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=0a1c2fa9-03f8-4527-aa1a-2a3032261299%40sessionmgr4004&vid=4&hid=4204
Related URLs:http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=0a1c2fa9-03f8-4527-aa1a-2a3032261299%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4204&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=112090585&db=poh

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