The study investigates the quality of media debates on unemployment in six European countries – Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Denmark. Because there exist different normative conceptions of the democratic process (e.g., liberal and deliberative theories), the quality of media debates can be measured according to different normative standards. We argue that the characteristics of a country’s media system influences to which normative standards the country’s media debates conform. Hypotheses about the performance of each media system with regard to a set of normative standards were derived from the typology of media systems by Hallin and Mancini (2004). We find that there exist considerable differences in the quality of the debate on unemployment between the media systems. However, we only partly succeed in predicting debate quality on the basis of this typology. Implications of the results are discussed.