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Party media agenda-setting : How parties influence election news coverage
David N. Hopmann, Christian Elmelund-Præstekær, Erik Albæk, Rens Vliegenthart and Claes H. de Vreese Party Politics 2012 18: 173 originally published online 16 December 2010 DOI: 10.1177/1354068810380097 The online version of this article can be found at: http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/18/2/173
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Party media agenda-setting: How parties influence election news coverage
David N. Hopmann, Christian Elmelund-Præstekær and Erik Albæk
University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Party Politics 18(2) 173–191 ª The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permission: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1354068810380097 ppq.sagepub.com
Rens Vliegenthart and Claes H. de Vreese
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Abstract Political parties have substantial influence on which issues the news media cover during election campaigns, while the media have limited influence on party agendas. However, we know little about why some parties are more successful than others in passing the media’s gates and being covered on sponsored issues. On the basis of content analyses of election news coverage (812 news stories) and press releases published by political parties (N ¼ 334) during the 2007 national election campaign in Denmark, we analyse which parties were successful in appearing in the news on issues on which they published press releases. Using Sartori’s notion of relevant parties, we conclude that the more relevant parties have more success, that there is a positive spillover effect from other parties’ press releases, but also a negative interaction effect between a party’s own and other parties’ press releases. The results are discussed with respect to their generalizability and arising challenges for future research.
Corresponding author: David N. Hopmann, Centre for Journalism, Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark Email: email@example.com
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It is therefore important for both the political scientist and the political parties to gain a better understanding of the factors that condition the ability of parties to put their preferred issues on the media agenda. Even though this article presents a one-country study.sagepub.. we know that voters associate different parties with different policy issues. 2007. the wider implications of these findings are discussed. The present article is thus an important step towards providing new insights in this regard. 2012 . finally. election campaigns. 2002. Second. in turn. In addition. 2009. Semetko et al. 2006). 2006. why parties have differing success in appearing in the news on the issues they sponsor themselves. if so. the study of election campaigns is of central importance in representative democracies and therefore constitutes an obvious point of departure when illustrating parties’ varying agenda-setting capacities. Walgrave and van Aelst. 1972. they try to influence media coverage (Asp. and multiple studies indicate that parties can indeed have substantial influence over the media agenda (Brandenburg. Such knowledge is important primarily because extant research shows that the media agenda has a substantial influence on which policy issues the public perceives as important (McCombs and Shaw.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. 2005. news coverage Paper submitted 26 August 2009. Drawing on datasets measuring daily television news coverage and political parties’ press releases during the 2007 Danish national election campaign. Walgrave and van Aelst. Moreover.. 1991). 2004). 1983. 2009). This ability to influence the media agenda undoubtedly varies across parties (Asp. 2002. Third.174 Party Politics 18(2) Keywords agenda-building. but we do not know why. the ultimate goal is to identify explanations that are likely to apply to parties in other multiparty systems with similar patterns of party competition. the theoretical framework and a number of hypotheses are presented. may affect voting behaviour (Budge and Farlie. accepted for publication 28 December 2009 Introduction While media scholars and political scientists have studied the process of agendasetting for more than four decades. The article proceeds in four sections: first. Downloaded from ppq. the empirical data and the applied methods are described. One important causal factor behind associating different parties with different issues is the extent to which parties are covered in the media in relation to the different issues (Walgrave and de Swert. agenda-setting. Walgrave et al. the findings are reported and. there has been less focus on why some parties are more effective than others when it comes to influencing the issue agenda of the media. content analysis. we analyse whether and. Brandenburg. 1983). although the interplay between the media and politicians may be different during elections and non-election times (van Aelst and de Swert. Weaver et al. 2006). 2003)... Brandenburg. Since party strategists know this. which. Harris et al.
. studies have repeatedly found high correlations between the agendas of political parties and the media during election campaigns: in a study of the 1979 Swedish parliamentary election. Parties may differ.Hopmann et al. The literature provides some evidence that this. Asp (1983: 339) finds that: ‘The parties (.. Walters et al. we look for factors that allow some parties to be more influential vis-a ` -vis the media than others. 2006). 2004). 2008. e. As Brandenburg (2004: 7) notes. ‘the major parties [Labour and Conservatives] were the driving forces behind the overall Downloaded from ppq. that is. Dearing and Rogers. indeed.) a clear understanding of the mechanism by which political actors actually influence public salience’. 2012 ... Similarly. A closer look at these studies reveals a shortcoming. (1991) found a strong correlation between British party and television news issue agendas. Walgrave and van Aelst. 2002. Following the increasing number of studies on political agenda-setting looking for contingent factors (e. 1996. 1983: 351). Empirically. 1996. A number of studies have shown that this assumption in general holds true (for an overview. Thus. Green and Hobolt. see. Given this knowledge.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. Vliegenthart and Walgrave. however.. it is not surprising that political parties try to control or at least influence the media agenda. on the one hand. intuitively it seems implausible that all parties are equally successful in influencing the media’s issue coverage. In multiparty systems with several parties. ‘debates of salience manipulation are lacking (. 1996. 1998). such studies confirm Walgrave and van Aelst’s (2006) conclusion that political parties are quite successful in shaping the media agenda during election campaigns. 175 Theoretical framework and hypotheses The agenda-setting approach and efforts to set the media agenda The basic idea of agenda-setting studies is that the salience of issues on the media agenda influences the salience of issues on the public agenda.) seem to be powerful agenda setters for the news media.sagepub..g. in their capacities to set the media agenda. ‘[t]he problem with previous research into party– media relationship is that campaigns have not been treated as processes but as events’ (italics in original). 2008. Semetko et al. and thus valuable contribution. Brandenburg shows that. We also know that the salience of issues can influence the party choices of voters (Brandenburg.g. Kleinnijenhuis and de Ridder. Using time-series analysis. our first hypothesis argues that on the aggregated level parties influence the media agenda during election campaigns more than the media influence the party campaign agendas (H1). the media’s issue coverage during the 2002 Irish election was quite close to the political parties’ agendas (Brandenburg. 2004). is not the case: Asp (2006) shows that the agenda of the news coverage during the 2006 Swedish national election campaign was closer to the conservative parties than to the socialist parties. In sum. 2002. 2005). they do not analyse causal mechanisms (Asp. Brettschneider (2002) shows that issue coverage during the 2002 German Bundestag election campaign was more in line with the incumbent leftwing parties’ agenda than with the liberal–conservative opposition agenda. Weaver et al. An exception. while the media have limited or no power to influence the issue agendas of the political parties.. Weaver et al. Weaver. This process has been described as parties’ ‘media agenda-setting’ or ‘agenda-building’ (Brandenburg. is Brandenburg’s (2002: 40) study of television and press issue coverage during the 1997 British general election: as he emphasizes.’ Analysing the British general election of 1983. Most studies analyse correlations between the party and the media agendas. in the minds of voters.
Italy (Djerf-Pierre and Weibull. the then incumbent red–green government and the major opposition party ‘exerted significant influence on the news agenda of the public television station ARD’. Notwithstanding the important insights from Brandenburg’s and others’ studies. 2005). The relevance of parties Studies have shown that incumbent parties experience a bonus in terms of media attention.176 Party Politics 18(2) Party relevance + Own press releases + – Other parties' press releases + Appearances in TV news on issues from press releases Figure 1. 2000). which means that the party differences are under-theorized and explained post hoc. 1998). Second. Thus. hence.. 2006). 2002: 46). the (smaller) Liberal Democratic Party had no success with influencing the media agenda. those in the opposition merely talk and. Spain (Dı ´ez-Nicola ´ s and Semetko. obviously it cannot explain why (some) also oppositional parties appear to be successful. it was the dominant Fianna Fail that set the media agenda. as is the case in for example The Netherlands (van Praag and van der Eijk. Studies on Irish and German election news coverage also reported by Brandenburg (2004: 25) show similar results. In Ireland. Denmark (Hopmann et al. Notwithstanding this intuitive logic. Model of how parties influence their own and other parties’ appearances on television news during election campaigns by publishing press releases agenda dynamics rather than being driven. A graphical overview of the theoretical model we present – and subsequently test empirically – is shown in Figure 1. 2004: 22).. 2010) and Germany (Schneider et al. 1999). in Ireland the media agenda apparently also had an effect on the party agendas (Brandenburg. In Germany. when incumbent parties are more present in election news because they are incumbent. 1996.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. While parties in power act. the incumbency effect might be smaller in times of election campaigns because incumbent parties are not only ‘the Downloaded from ppq. the following subsection theorizes about the varying ability of parties to set the media agenda. the United Kingdom (Brandenburg. Brandenburg (2002. On the other hand.sagepub. incumbent parties are more newsworthy (Scho ¨ nbach and Semetko. Accordingly. Moreover. it might be assumed that incumbent parties also have most success in appearing in the news on issues they publish press releases about (H2A). 1999). 2004) suggests that focusing simply on incumbency might be too simple: first. the majority of works mentioned are primarily empirical. 2012 . at least not by the media’ (Brandenburg.
we expect to find a spillover effect from other parties’ press releases (H3A). For our present purpose. The latter group of parties is. as H2A and H2B imply: both hypotheses ignore that any given party competes against other parties for attention from the same journalists. In their study on the effects of news on voters’ perceptions of issue-ownership. Donsbach and Klett. we subscribe to the parsimonious classification of Sartori and argue that when some parties are more relevant than others in the political system the media may reflect these differences: with limited space in the news bulletins and a wide range of parties to cover. in multiparty systems not every party competes for governmental office. and/or are anti-system.sagepub. 177 commanders in chief’ but also ordinary parties in open competition with other parties that are able to gain office (cf. Having said this. some parties are more relevant than others in both the government formation process and everyday law-making. Walgrave et al. van Aelst and de Swert. Hence. journalists may also turn to party B or party C to balance the statements by party A. more parties focusing on the same issue may also have the opposite effect. Sartori (2005: 107–10) formulates two attributes defining so-called ‘relevant parties’: they need to have coalition or blackmailing potential. with achieving more politically balanced news coverage by including candidates from different parties in their news reports (cf. especially during election campaigns. 1990) of parties vary greatly in most multiparty systems. still more successful in influencing the media agenda than irrelevant parties (H2B) (for similar reasoning. looking at incumbency alone is to ignore that the size. According to this theory. Therefore. 2009). 2000) and the goals (Strøm. Thus. can be seen as largely irrelevant. Following in Sartori’s footsteps. this line of thought jibes well with Bennett’s indexing theory of press– politics relations (1990). small parties that are redundant to form a government. and a range of parties have never held office. Unlike the American case. (2009) argue that voters can be more affected by news items containing only one politician claiming ownership of a given issue than Downloaded from ppq. In his seminal work on party systems. 2007: 49). 2008). see also Brandenburg. The competition between parties Parties’ success in appearing on issues they focus on themselves may not simply reflect their general newsworthiness. Denmark. The second set of hypotheses therefore takes the party competition perspective. Thus. the political power (Powell. Thus.Hopmann et al. 2003). see Blau. Extant research tells us that journalists are concerned. is no exception (Skjæveland. political scientists have designed more sophisticated measures by which to count the number of relevant parties in a given political system (for an overview. the news media ‘open the gates wider or close them more tightly as they perceive potentially decisive challenges or a lack of challenges to the most powerful institutional players and their agendas’ (Bennett et al. if party A publishes a press release on a given issue and subsequently is interviewed on this issue. 1993: 65. Walgrave and van Aelst. 2006: 98).com at University of Bucharest on December 4. we suggest the following hierarchy: parties with coalition potential are more successful in influencing the media agenda than parties with blackmailing potential. our case.. 2012 . nevertheless. In fact. 2003: 113). Finally. journalists may simply pick up the agendas of the most relevant parties.
(4) education and science. the dominant issue and all actors featuring. (3) value politics (such as immigration and foreign aid).00. Party agendas Here. Mazzoleni and Schulz. TV2: 19.3 We also exclude ‘other issues’ because it is a residual category which by definition contains all kinds of issues – hence.30. (7) defence and terrorism. In order to have a reasonable number of news stories each day. possible effects on the audience of parties’ appearances are cancelled out by a balance between the parties. they most likely do not report on them..2 Second. That is. for example. we hypothesize that there is a negative interaction effect on a party’s media appearances on a specific issue of the number of press releases by that party on that issue and other parties’ press releases on the same issue (H3B). If we adopt this reasoning for the present study.1 To test hypotheses 2 to 4. we use the daily number of times a party is mentioned together with an issue as the dependent variable. it makes no sense to compare it across different issue agendas. 1999).sagepub. (2) welfare and social politics. the success with influencing journalists by an individual party diminishes. the proximate audience of the political parties is the gate-keeping journalists. Given the very short duration of Danish election campaigns. voter and campaign trail stories.e. 2012 . see D’Angelo et al. we conducted a content analysis of all political news stories raised in the four major evening news bulletins on Danish television (DR1: 18. Television news bulletins were chosen because televised news is the public’s main source of political information (Lund. For each news story. (6) the European Union. N ¼ 812). 2005. it follows that when too many parties publish press releases on the same issues on a given day. finally. we study the agendas of the different parties by using their press releases as published during the election campaign. If the television media responds to.00. 22. We included all political news stories regardless of the focus.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. the definition follows previous research. journalists refer to the upcoming election in virtually all news stories. (9) other issues. press releases on photo opportunities. the range of small issues categories is collapsed into nine border issue categories: (1) economy and employment. Press releases are analysed for a number of reasons. The last two categories are not included in the analysis: it is difficult to conceive how and why the news media would ‘copy’ issues within the campaign category.00. 21. Data. the length. case and method The media agenda For all 20 days of the 2007 national election campaign. that is. Esser and D’Angelo. we coded the day of the campaign. (5) environment and infrastructure. Parties’ efforts to influence media coverage using press releases may have the characteristics of a zero-sum game: as depicted in Figure 1. Hence. both election news and other types of political news stories. we first aggregate the results for all four news bulletins. Downloaded from ppq.178 Party Politics 18(2) on balanced news where one party’s claims are countered by another party. 2006) and. 2001. (8) campaign (i. but simply use the information to put their cameramen to work.
the issues of parties’ letters-to-the-editor can be biased by newspaper editors who may have good reason to publish letters about issues covered by their newspapers. No data were available for the Red– Green Alliance (Enhedslisten). The two minor parties – New Alliance (NA) and the Christian Democrats (KD) – published only five press releases each.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. since no central archive exists – not even within the individual parties.. Ads (typically televised) are frequently used in the Anglo-American literature (Kaid... It is therefore necessary to choose a source of communication that is used every day. Second. 1999). which would invalidate an analysis drawing solely on this source. (. on average at least two a day. The sheer number of press releases published by all parties indicates that these are indeed considered important channels of communication in election campaigns (Table 1). Shea and Burton (2001: 173) emphasize that ‘[t]he most important tool for selling a candidate is the news release. indicating that these parties treat this channel of communication as important. Neveu. 2006). Numbers of press releases in different issue categories by the parties during the 2007 campaign Economy DF K KD NA RV S SF V N 5 8 1 0 6 12 5 6 43 Welfare 8 10 4 2 12 11 27 18 92 Values 16 20 0 0 13 10 8 12 79 Education 2 5 0 0 3 2 7 3 22 Environment 4 9 0 2 27 17 22 4 85 EU 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 5 Defence 2 0 0 1 0 3 2 0 8 N 40 52 5 5 62 55 71 44 334 DF ¼ Danish People’s Party.g..sagepub. 1973). journalists have limited resources and work under considerable time pressures (Brandenburg. which narrows the possible choices to campaign ads. including Denmark (Kaid and HoltzBacha. Finally. Walters et al.. a number of studies capture party agendas using party election manifestos (e. Similarly. but this source does not allow dynamic analysis of the developments in the course of the campaign.. that is. (. 2012 . 179 Table 1. 2002. K ¼ Conservatives. journalists rely on routine and readily accessible channels of news material.. 1995). KD ¼ Christian Democrats.. small parties often cannot afford ads in the print media. Downloaded from ppq. The remaining major parties published at least 40 press releases each.. but televised political ads are prohibited in many European countries. S ¼ Social Democrats. releases have the potential to amplify themes and images stressed by the campaign’. 2002. Moreover. such as party press releases (McLeod et al. RV ¼ Social Liberals.. speeches.Hopmann et al. 2005). None of the mentioned problems applies to press releases. (1996: 9) note that ‘political campaigns (. V ¼ Liberals. Plasser.) This form of communication (. First. 2002. SF ¼ Socialist People’s Party.) Properly used. NA ¼ New Alliance.) plays a central role in any campaign’s earned media strategy’. Speeches are extremely difficult to get.) require many vehicles to transmit issue and image salience to voters. letters-to-the-editor and press releases. Klingemann et al. Sigal. so we are forced to exclude them from the following analyses. Hence.
We are therefore able to see whether several parties with similar roles in the party system are equally successful in influencing media coverage. Gould. in Denmark there are two ‘government nucleuses’ (Skjæveland. the then prime minister. 2008). parties monitor the campaign activities. SF). A party issuing a press release on a non-preferred issue probably aims at presenting it with its own slant rather than letting other parties express their opinions on it unopposed – if that was not the goal. 2006). and their status within the political system in the 2007 Danish national election. 2012 . S. 1998. This coalition would also have been a minority government. when still publishing press releases on such issues it frames them to its own advantage (Sides. At the same time. Following Sartori (2005). the day of the campaign and the dominant issue. we coded which party published the release. H2B takes a more detailed approach. On 24 October 2007. the definition of a party-sponsored issue is an issue on which a party released a press release. see Kosiara-Pedersen. Anders Fogh Rasmussen. the incumbent right-wing government consisting of the Liberals (V) as major partner in the coalition. we expect the Liberals (V) and the Conservatives (K) to be most successful. announced that the next national election would be held on 13 November. however. that is. and the prime minister’s party. Jønsson. However. Hence. issues and media appearances of their opponents in order to be able to respond immediately (Farrell and Webb. 2000. a party will also publish press releases on issues it would like to avoid highlighting in general. In Denmark. Therefore. The case and its political context Apart from data availability. Hence.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. Downloaded from ppq. no anti-system party is represented in parliament and all other parties in the analysis are involved in government formation. RV) are more successful than parties with blackmailing potential only (DF. in this case their supporting parties are two left-wing parties (the Socialist People’s Party [SF] and the minor Red–Green Alliance [EL]). This government is a minority coalition supported by the Danish People’s Party (DF). K. is given in Table 2 (for more details on the 2007 election. it would not make much sense to publish a press release on the issue.4 Again we collapsed minor issues into the nine categories described above and we excluded the ‘campaign’ and the ‘other issues’ categories. H2B can therefore be specified stating that parties with coalition potential (V. a party cannot completely ignore issues that are sponsored by other parties. all six parties in our analysis are relevant. we can specify H2A and H2B: H2A assumes that incumbent parties are successful in appearing in the news on issues they sponsor. the 2007 Danish national election is chosen as our case because a large number of parties competed in this campaign.180 Party Politics 18(2) In their ‘war rooms’. 2003). and the Conservatives (K) as the minor partner. Obviously. An overview of the parties included in our study. arguing that there is a difference between nonrelevant and different types of relevant parties.sagepub. Each press release is coded the same way as individual news stories in the televised broadcasts. With the information given in Table 2. Two government alternatives were running against each other: on the one side. with 20 days’ notice. 2007: 467). The possible alternative government composition presented to the voters consisted of the Social Democrats (S) and the Social Liberals (RV).
3 –4. they need parliamentary support from other parties.7 þ0. Specifically. Rather. hence.0 Status prior to election Government (PM’s party) Government Supporting government* Government alternative Government alternative Supporting gov. The second question that needs to be addressed is whether the series are stationary. In addition. Parties running in the 2007 Danish national elections Vote-share Liberals (V) Conservatives (K) Danish People’s Party (DF) Social Democrats (S) Social Liberals (RV) Socialist People’s Party (SF) 26. making a negative binomial regression a viable option (Long. This is not the case. we are dealing with highly skewed count data with a fairly large variance. Other reasons than party–media dynamics are likely to account for those variations (e. that is. we have to choose between a fixed-effects or a random-effects analysis.1 13.Hopmann et al. In that case. The relevant Fisher tests indicate that all our series are stationary and do not have to be differenced. whether the mean of each medium-level series is unaffected by a change of time origin and thus the expected value is the same for all time-points. Statistical considerations For each party.g. the dependent variable has some moderate first-order autocorrelation. To establish the most appropriate analytical technique that takes into account the nested structure as well as the possible dynamic structure of the series. 181 Table 2. this finding is no surprise: there are substantial differences across issues with some issues receiving more party attention than others. several steps have to be taken (see also Wilson and Butler.5 5.4 13. results demonstrate that results from this type of analysis largely resemble the same analysis using a linear regression. Taking into account this heterogeneity. Finally. we chose to report those analyses.2 10. classification of issues).6 –0. the datafile resembles a pooled time-series structure with time-points (days) nested within issues.9 25.0 Change 07–05 –2.1 þ7. 2007). alternative* *Government coalitions normally do not have a parliamentary majority of their own. 1997). The Hausman test indicates that both types of analysis – the fixed effects resembling a regression with dummies for each of the issues and the random effects resembling a regression for which the intercept is allowed to randomly differ across issues – yield largely similar results. for most of the parties. Since results from the latter have a more straightforward interpretation. we find heterogeneity in the series which indicates the presence of panelspecific (in our case issue-specific) differences in the dependent variable that are not captured by the independent variables in the model. which we handle by including a lagged dependent variable as an Downloaded from ppq.sagepub. However. random effects are more efficient. From a substantial point of view.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. 2012 . we test for each party separately whether it appears in the evening news on the same issues (the dependent variable) it and other parties published press releases on during the day. The first question that needs to be addressed is whether the dependent variable resembles a normal distribution.1 þ0.
074 (0. we find empirical support for H1: parties indeed influence the media agenda. parties are more stable in their issue focus than the evening news is. independent variable. indicating little stability. we look at a model that includes the lagged dependent variable and the party’s own press releases. and that the media have little impact on the party agendas (H1).224)** 2. As a first step.003 (0. N ¼ 133 (19 days Â 7 issue categories) for the analyses in the right column.05 significance level (one-sided). To test our hypotheses. 2012 .209 (0. this results in pooled linear regressions with random effects and a lagged dependent variable. we add the number of press releases other parties published on the issue. First. N ¼ 140 (20 days campaign Â 7 issue categories) for the analysis in the left column.197)** 6.069) 2. tests revealed that including a lagged term for their own issue focus is appropriate. Influence on the agenda in evening news bulletins of the party agendas and vice versa.182 Party Politics 18(2) Table 3.37 Issue agenda in party press releases – 0.sagepub. Second. Second. over time. Findings It is asked how successful parties are in appearing in the evening news on the issues of their press releases published the same day. Table 3 (left column) gives the results when all press releases of all parties are pooled: first. Third.059 (0. the issue agenda of the parties’ press releases apparently has a systematic effect on the issue agenda in the evening news.01 significance level. This finding supports Brandenburg’s (2002: 43) conclusion that ‘agenda stability and continuity appears to be a short-term process during campaigns’. we analyse the hypotheses that parties as such are able to influence the media agenda. therefore no lagged term of the dependent variable is included in the model.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. we find in all instances positive coefficients Downloaded from ppq.121 (0. That is. generalized least squares fixed-effects model (unstandardized coefficients) Issue agenda in the media Issue agenda in party press releases Issue agenda in the mediat–1 Issue agenda in party press releasest–1 Constant F-value 0. Overall.82 **0. no significant effect of the media agenda in the news on parties’ issue agenda in their press releases the following day is found. Second. no autocorrelation is found in the media agenda. whereas the media do not influence the parties’ campaign agendas. Results for the opposite causal direction are shown in the right column of Table 3: first. Turning to the main question of the present article. we test the remaining hypotheses formulated above. Summing up.082)* – – 3. Robust standard errors in parentheses. we include an interaction term between the party’s own press release and the other parties’ press releases.058) 0. a significant effect on the evening news bulletins of all press releases published the same day is found. Looking at the first model in Table 4 (first column for each party) including each party’s own press releases. we execute the analysis for each party in three steps. *0.
The appropriate interaction term is included in the third model in Table 4 (the third column of each party). 183 confirming the basic assumption that parties are successful in influencing the media agenda – not only at the aggregate party-system level (as shown above) but also at the individual party level. but in general they show a similar pattern. we find a positive coefficient possibly reflecting the especially exposed position of this party. it seems that the ‘big brother’ in each government coalition alternative has the most influence on the media coverage (Social Democrats and Liberals. but none when looking at blackmailing parties. thus H2A on incumbency remains unsupported. Liberals and Conservatives).sagepub. blackmailing potential only (Socialist People’s Party. In this model we include a term for other parties’ press releases. respectively). which corroborates the assumption that journalists pay more attention to more relevant parties (H2B). the Downloaded from ppq. which does not fit into this general picture. that is. the more success it will have with its press releases. The one exception is the Prime Minister’s party (the Liberals). a given party will also be covered in the news on this issue – even though it did not publish press releases on the issue. The Socialist People’s Party had enormous momentum throughout the 2007 election campaign gradually altering the party’s position in the political system from a blackmailer to a party with coalition aspirations (comparable to the Socialist Left in the rather similar Norwegian political landscape. the media saw this change coming during the election campaign.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. 2012 . Next. significant results are found for only one of the two parties with less relevance. implying that the more other parties emphasize an issue. Social Liberals and Liberals). we present a second set of models in Table 4 (second column for each party). and as expected once more we find positive coefficients in all instances. One might also note that the coefficients are significant in three out of the four cases when looking at parties with coalition potential (Social Democrats. 2006). Conservatives) exert a significant impact on news coverage. this finding clearly shows that not only incumbent parties (Liberals. we find positive and significant effects for three out of four parties with coalition potential (Social Democrats. Possibly. Finally. keeping in mind that we compare six parties only. Moreover. we hypothesized a negative interaction effect between parties’ own press releases and other parties’ press releases (H3B). There are some indications: first. see Sitter.Hopmann et al. In sum. the larger the intercept in Figure 2 – when other parties do not issue any press release on the issue either. We find negative signs in all but one instance (significant for Social Democrats. Figure 2 illustrates the negative interaction effect between the party’s own press releases and other parties’ releases for the Social Democrats. Second. The more elaborate H2B on the relevance of parties suggests that a hierarchy exists: the more relevant a party is. Here. testing the effects of party competition. That said. This finding clearly supports H3A: there is indeed a spillover effect from other parties. the results differ for the other parties. Social Liberals and Conservatives). This effect would imply that the effects of publishing press releases have the characteristics of a zero-sum game: if everybody shouts. the effects for the Socialist People’s Party are much smaller than for the Social Democrats and the Liberals. With regard to the relevance of parties. we find partial support for H2B. Of course. but not Danish People’s Party). The graph shows the positive effect of other parties’ press releases when the party itself does not issue any releases on the issue under consideration: the more press releases. single voices drown. We also find significant results for other parties.
100) 0.352) 0.455** (0.470** (0.246** (0.237* (0.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. *0.168) 0.091) 0.281) 0.112 0.155 Supporting parties (blackmailing potential) Socialist People’s Party Own releases Other parties’ releases ‘Own releases’ Â ‘Other parties’ releases’ Media attentiont–1 Constant R2 0.093) – – 0.086) 0.131) – – 0.082) 0.116* (0.174) 0.179) 0.266** (0.057) – 0.217 (0.041 (0.118 (0.086) 0.139* (0.114 (0. a lagged term for each party’s appearances on the evening news on a given issue is included.061 (0.082) 0.085) 0.090) 0.162) – – 0.145) 0.204) 0.sagepub.180 0.042) –0.186** (0.082) 0.115 Bourgeois government Liberals Own releases Other parties’ releases ‘Own releases’ Â ‘Other parties’ releases’ Media attentiont–1 Constant R2 0.027 (0.163* (0.515** (0.075 0.140 (0.016 (0.089) 0.252* (0.034) –0.015 (0.141 (0.194 0.030) – 0.112 **0.081) 0.130) – – 0.244** (0.532** (0.066 (0.161) – – 0.029) – 0.147) 0.032 (0.090) 0.153** (0. To correct for the fact that parties tend to appear on the same issues consecutively.168) 0.106 0.080) – – 0.055) 0.083) 0.054) –0.380* (0.082) –0.619** (0.109 (0.114) 0.209** (0.217 (0.131 0.621** (0.051 0.092 (0.157 (0.276** (0.095) 0.135) 0.131) 0.184 Party Politics 18(2) Table 4.139 (0.068) –0.183 (0.101** (0.039) –0.036 (0.030 (0.578** (0.075) 0.182** (0.007 (0.041 (0.048 (0.177** (0.100 0.05 significance level (one-sided).330** (0.278** (0.097 (0.122 Conservatives 0. 2012 .057 (0. Downloaded from ppq.114* (0.083) 0.123* (0.083) 0.083) 0.064) 0.266** (0. Three sets of models on the effects on appearing on television evening news in relation to specific issues of publishing press releases on these issues (standard errors in parentheses) Socialist government alternative Social Democrats Own releases Other parties’ releases ‘Own releases’ Â ‘Other parties’ releases’ Media attentiont–1 Constant R2 0.095 (0.006 Social Liberals –0.076) 0.053) – 0.091) 0.072) 0.051 0.074) 0.150 (0.076) 0.316* (0.139) 0.200** (0.254** (0.133) 0.179* (0.205 –0.225 0.267) 0.033) – –0.144* (0.100** (0.159) 0.01 significance level.141) 0.191** (0.096 (0.106) 0.053 Danish People’s Party 0.099) 0.050) – 0.164) 0.006 (0.074) 0.076) 0.177 0.075) 0.005 (0.239** (0.061) 0.082) 0.188 (0.037) –0.015 (0.138) 0.102* (0. N ¼ 133 observations (19 days Â 7 issue categories).034) 0.077) 0.126 (0.100 (0.690** (0.
television) renders this conclusion quite robust.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. the findings show that the more press releases a party publishes on a specific issue.05. r represents 3 releases. When the other parties release no press releases on the issue. the slope of the various lines indicates the effects of issuing press releases for different levels of other parties’ press releases. this. ~ represents 6 releases (results for Social Democrats) predicted media attention is close to zero (line with c). this effect is only 0. it was asked how to explain that some parties are more successful in appearing on television news on issues they focus on themselves. but the results are mixed. 2012 . while if other parties release a total of six press releases it is close to 2 (line with ~). For the case where other parties release three press releases. too.69 higher predicted number of media appearances on that issue. of appearances in the news 3 2 1 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 No. especially with respect to Downloaded from ppq. Second. This finding seems to hold more for parties with coalition potential than for parties with blackmailing potential only.32. if other parties publish press releases on a specific issue. 2004) finding that in election times party agendas affect the issue agenda in the news media but not vice versa. 185 4 No. while for six press releases by other parties.sagepub. raises the chances of being covered on this issue. our data support Brandenburg’s (2002. the more often this party will appear on this issue in the evening television news. Discussion On the aggregated level. First. of press releases Figure 2. Effects on appearing on television evening news related to specific issues of publishing press releases on these issues moderated by the number of press releases by other parties: c represents 0 press releases by other parties. But these findings do not in and of themselves explain why some parties are more successful in influencing the media agenda than other parties. The fact that Brandenburg’s and our study investigate both different countries (Germany. the effect is even negative: –0.Hopmann et al. Furthermore. Denmark) and different media outlets (press. Therefore. Ireland. each press release results in a 0. the UK.
our results indicate that if too many parties publish press releases on the same issue.186 Party Politics 18(2) more relevant parties. party resources can be used elsewhere. 1993. the more press releases are published by other parties on a specific issue the less the effect a given party will experience by publishing yet another press release. to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the press–politics nexus. only that this was Downloaded from ppq. for example. Splichal and Sparks. as mentioned above. the study in hand has limitations: first. These findings have major implications for democracy in broader terms as well as how parties can set the media agenda. Moreover. such a dynamic can be seen as problematic as it potentially disfavours new. the media are not independent actors acting autonomously but are engaged in an interaction with political actors who are their central sources in election campaign coverage. Plasser. publishing yet another press release does not help gain media attention. 2005). future studies might look at second-level agenda-setting and the parties’ ability to influence not only issues in the media but also the framing of these issues (Stro ¨ mba ¨ ck and Nord. 2005). 2006). If more relevant parties have more success with influencing the media agenda and hence influence the public agenda in their favoured direction we might be observing a self-sustaining circle – because you are relevant you have influence and because you have influence you are relevant. journalists in many other countries are. we studied news coverage of an election campaign. Moreover. Next. the findings help us to understand by which dynamics the media agenda is shaped and whose agenda the public effectively is following when influenced by media coverage. from our study. concerned with objectivity. Neveu. leading eventually to an overall negative effect of an increased number of press releases. Recent research shows that campaign news is more balanced than routine news (van Aelst and de Swert.sagepub. 2006).5 Depending on which ideal of democracy one adheres to. 1994). 2012 . emerging political voices (see Stro ¨ mba ¨ ck. Likewise. First. Second. Obviously. Second. there is no reason to assume that journalists in general use press releases much differently in other countries: it is not just Danish journalists who work under considerable time and resource pressure (e. the media indeed appear to be receptive to the issue attention of the parties rather than setting the agenda for the parties.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. political neutrality and hence aim at balancing their news reports (cf. Walgrave and van Aelst. Third. Donsbach and Klett. 2009. 2002. the Danish People’s Party in general was less successful in being covered on self-sponsored issues. Notwithstanding. it even seems to make a difference which party is the larger coalition member. it raises the important question of how inclusive media coverage can and should be. Inspired by the emerging research focusing on the contingent factors that determine the size of the mass media’s influence on politics and vice versa. During election periods. It does make a difference whether a party has coalition potential rather than having blackmailing potential only. which might affect the possibility for parties to manipulate the media agenda in a negative direction for incumbents and a positive direction for other parties. one cannot infer that.g. we set out to identify factors that condition a party’s success in influencing media coverage: we find that systemic party characteristics indeed make a difference. From a practical perspective. We expect our empirical conclusions to hold true in other multiparty systems with similar patterns of party competition: first. party strategists can take advantage of this fact.
42. from the journalists’ point of view. Testing for inter-coder reliability yielded the following results (Krippendorff’s alpha values): 0. 187 the case with respect to the party’s press releases. as press releases.96 for length and 0. the issue-ownership logic does not influence journalists in their decisions about what to cover. for example. journalists are more sceptical towards parties when they trespass on other parties’ issues. Kent (2006) Ra ¨ teborg: ¨ttvisa nyhetsmedier – Partiskheten under 2006 a ¨relse. 2010). the results presented here are essentially the same when the campaign category is included in the analyses. Communication Research 10: 333–55. This finding is in line with previous research on Danish television broadcasters concluding that the coverage is similar at both stations (Hopmann et al. The next steps are to compare our results with those of other countries across time and to include more detailed information on party communication and media content.96 for actor affiliation.81 for issue. for whatever reason published. In sum. 4. that is.Hopmann et al. it could be suggested that parties have more success with publishing press releases on issues which they hold ownership. but by a third factor or ‘external shocks’ such as developments outside the political sphere. Nevertheless. Notes 1. we have shown that. future studies should also try to account for exogenous factors such as ‘real-world events’: one could argue that simultaneous issue attention by parties is not caused by their strategic reactions to one another.73 (Krippendorff’s alpha) for the issue coding. but also why some parties appear to be more successful than others in setting the media agenda. 5. parties have a substantial effect on the media agenda. at least in a multiparty context as Denmark. The inter-coder reliability was 0. Kent (1983) ‘The Struggle for the Agenda’. the publication of new unemployment figures or an incident in a war.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. Go JMG Arbetsrapport nr. as it is argued to influence voters. 0. there is no interaction effect between issue-ownership and success with influencing news coverage with press releases on owned issues. Hence. ˚rs medievalro Asp. Apparently. Go ¨ teborgs Universitet. it is not the case that the overall results are driven by one of them. we selected the issue to which they devoted most attention in their party manifestos and assessed whether the effects of press releases were larger for that issue. For each party included in our analysis. during election times. 2012 . this does not change much.. The length variable is logtransformed. in which issue-ownership can be considered to be more divided and diffuse. Finally. 2. Downloaded from ppq. Although we find that parties are more covered on issues they own. That said. Rerunning the full model presented in Table 4 does not indicate substantial differences between the two broadcasting stations. still signal that parties want to speak on specific issues and therefore suggest themselves to the media as interviewees. Similarly. 3.sagepub. References Asp. future studies should try to account for the fact that the media–party relationship also involves other communication channels than press releases. Following findings from Hayes (2008) for several US presidential election campaigns.
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David. Rens Vliegenthart is Assistant Professor in Political Communication at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR). His research has been published in more than 70 articles in international peer-reviewed journals. Political Communication 26: 153–72. pp. Weaver. Weaver. Department of Political Science.) Handbook of Political Communication Research. 191 Walgrave. Maxwell McCombs and Donald L.com at University of Bucharest on December 4. and Influences’. Butler (2007) ‘A Lot More to Do: The Sensitivity of Time-Series Cross-Section Analyses to Simple Alternative Specifications’. His recent works have been published in European Political Science Review and the International Journal of Press/Politics. 2012 . University of Southern Denmark. Stefaan. media effects on public opinion. Downloaded from ppq. pp. which investigates the evolution in processes of political reform throughout the post-war era. He is currently engaged in the Danish Local Election Program. T. vol. Walters and Roger Gray (1996) ‘Agenda Building in the 1992 Presidential Campaign’. Public Relations Review 22: 9–24. Hopmann is Assistant Professor in Media and Politics at the Centre for Journalism.) Political Communication Research: Approaches. where his primary focus is local agenda dynamics and the concept of personalization. de Vreese is Professor of Political Communication and Director of the Amsterdam School of Communication Research at the University of Amsterdam. in Lynda Lee Kaid (ed. David (1996) ‘Media Agenda-Setting and Elections: 1970s–1990s’. in David L. social movements and time-series analysis. Political Analysis 15: 101–23. and Daniel M. Shaw (2004) ‘Agenda-Setting Research: Issues. election campaigns. Sven E. He was chairman of the Danish Social Science Research Council 2001–2005. 2. Studies.sagepub. 211–24. He works on the production of media content and how it affects news consumers. University of Amsterdam. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Walters. Erik Albæk is Professor in Journalism and Political Science at the University of Southern Denmark. His most recent articles appear in Journal of Communication and Political Communication. Claes H. He is currently working on projects on ‘Political Journalism in Comparative Perspective’ and ‘Morality Politics in Comparative Perspective’. Dutch and European Science Foundations. Author Biographies David N. Attributes. Norwood: Ablex Publishing. N. Christian Elmelund-Præstekær is Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Denmark.. Assessments. Jonas Lefevere and Michiel Nuytemans (2009) ‘Issue Ownership Stability and Change: How Political Parties Claim and Maintain Issues Through Media Appearances’.Hopmann et al. and his work is funded by Danish. M. L. Paletz (ed. He is also working on the project ‘Beyond Class Politics’. Wilson. 257–81. His research interests include politics–media relations.
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