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News Media as Gatekeepers, Critics, and Initiators of Populist Communication: How Journalists in Ten Countries Deal with the Populist Challenge


Wettstein, Martin; Esser, Frank; Schulz, Anne; Wirz, Dominique S; Wirth, Werner (2018). News Media as Gatekeepers, Critics, and Initiators of Populist Communication: How Journalists in Ten Countries Deal with the Populist Challenge. International Journal of Press/Politics, 23(4):476-495.

Abstract

In the wake of the recent successes of populist political actors and discussions about its causes in Europe, the contribution of the media has become an issue of public debate. We identify three roles—as gatekeepers, interpreters, and initiators—the media can assume in their coverage of populist actors, populist ideology, and populist communication. A comparative content analysis of nine thousand stories from fifty-nine news outlets in ten European countries shows that both media factors (e.g., tabloid orientation) and political factors (e.g., response of mainstream parties) influence the extent and nature of populism in the media. Although newspapers in most countries do not overrepresent populist actors and tend to evaluate them negatively, we still find abundant populist content in the news. Several media outlets like to present themselves as mouthpieces of the people while, at the same time, cover politicians and parties with antiinstitutional undertones.

Abstract

In the wake of the recent successes of populist political actors and discussions about its causes in Europe, the contribution of the media has become an issue of public debate. We identify three roles—as gatekeepers, interpreters, and initiators—the media can assume in their coverage of populist actors, populist ideology, and populist communication. A comparative content analysis of nine thousand stories from fifty-nine news outlets in ten European countries shows that both media factors (e.g., tabloid orientation) and political factors (e.g., response of mainstream parties) influence the extent and nature of populism in the media. Although newspapers in most countries do not overrepresent populist actors and tend to evaluate them negatively, we still find abundant populist content in the news. Several media outlets like to present themselves as mouthpieces of the people while, at the same time, cover politicians and parties with antiinstitutional undertones.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sociology and Political Science, Communication
Language:English
Date:1 October 2018
Deposited On:29 Nov 2018 13:46
Last Modified:29 Nov 2018 13:46
Publisher:Sage Publications Ltd.
ISSN:1940-1612
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161218785979
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID51NF40-151577
  • : Project TitleChallenges to Democracy in the 21st Century (Phase 3)

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