News media's position-taking regarding the European Union: the synchronization of mass media's reporting and commentating in the 2014 European Parliament elections

Silke Adam, Beatrice Eugster, Eva Antl-Wittenberg, Rachid Azrout, Judith Möller, Claes de Vreese, Michaela Maier, Sylvia Kritzinger
2017 Journal of European Public Policy  
We analyse whether a newspaper's editorial position regarding the European Union is related to its selection decisions in the news section. We ask whether such a synchronization between news and editorials exists, whether it is conditioned by the type of media system and under which conditions it also affects the selection of transnational voices. Our study is based on a quantitative content analysis of the quality press in seven European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, The
more » ... Greece, The Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom) in the run-up to the 2014 European Parliament elections. Our results support a synchronization between editorials and news, specifically with regard to the selection of national speakers. With regard totransnational speakers, they are selectively chosen by a medium if its editorial position is not supported at the national level. Furthermore, they are used to put forward a portrayal of a political community in accordance with the editorial line. Euroscepticism is thus compared to a virus that 'has now spread across the continent' (Torreblanca et al. 2013: 1). This spread is remarkable given the fact that for long a permissive consensus has characterized the citizens' relationship with the EU. The question is how the virus of Euroscepticism could have been fuelled to such a large extent? While recent research has examined extensively not only parties' behaviours and citizens' attitudes on the EU but also how mass media attach salience to Europe and how they reflect party positions on Europe, little research has been conducted on news media's independent position-taking on the EU. This research deficit is even more surprising as news media are important owing to their excellent 'access' to the citizens. News media can play an independent role in formulating positions towards the EU, turning into political actors themselves (Page 1996) . They do so legitimately in the editorial sections. In the reporting sections, in contrast, newspapers are expected to turn into conveyors of information independently of their editorial lines. Yet, research has shown that position-taking in editorials might also impact news selection by, for example, privileging those voices that support the editorial lines (e.g., Hagen 1993; Kahn and Kenney 2002). Consequently, we ask: Is a newspaper's editorial position regarding the EU related to its selection decisions in the news? So far this 'synchronization' (Schönbach 1977) of editorials and news has primarily been studied in the realm of national politics. Here it is left-leaning newspapers that primarily refer to left-leaning sources, whereas the contrary applies to right-leaning newspapers (e.g., Hagen 1993). With the European integration process, however, issues are no longer decided at the national level, which also makes national mass media grant a voice (to different degrees and under specific circumstances [e.g., Adam 2016] to speakers of other member states or the EU. We thus ask: Is the editorial position of a newspaper regarding the EU related only to the selection of national voices or does it also impact the selection of transnational ones in the news section? We explore these questions by using a unique dataset on news media reporting
doi:10.1080/13501763.2017.1375546 fatcat:ouxxpkktuzgxhf6coiufbkvexq