Javnost - The Public, Vol. 15 - 2008, No. 4
This article analyses the behavior and attitude of the Spanish press at the beginning of the transition towards democracy (November 1975 – December 1978), during the most signifi cant political and institutional change. The role of the main newspapers is assessed from different perspectives, together with the reasons for the newspapers’ consensus on the basic issues that were in the public eye. Through examples from several papers, taken one by one and as a whole, we will explain the exceptional characteristics of this interesting relationship between politics and journalism, and include some exceptions such as the ultraright-wing press and the Basque nationalist sector.
This article aims at assessing the theoretical and empirical role of the national press in the emerging European public sphere. The study draws on Europeanisation as the emerging framework for transnational communication across European nation states. It assumes that the press itself may perform as a political actor and make a substantial contribution to Europeanisation by advocating European integration and by broadening its scope to include the perspectives of all EU member states and the EU itself. In order to discern the infl uence or role of the media – its “voice” – this study analysed the content of editorials of 28 newspapers in seven European countries along two dimensions. First, the receptiveness of the press towards European perspectives is investigated by measuring the degree to which its editorials feature European scopes. Second, the study examines newspapers’ attitudes about European integration as a political project. The overall findings point to a remarkable representation of European perspectives, and substantial support for EU integration, by the national press in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The newspapers in the Netherlands and Switzerland were somewhat more parochial, but still supportive. We also see that the United Kingdom (UK) media deviate substantially from these patterns. This study concludes that, in contrast with the findings of earlier studies, the press must be regarded as a signifi cant agent of Europeanisation fostering transnational linkages of public debate.
Immigration is a policy fi eld increasingly shifting under supranational decision-making in the EU. This article analyses news coverage of African “illegal” migration to the Canary Islands in a Finnish and a Swedish newspaper. Analysis of the northern European public debate of a southern European news event shows how the “migration crisis” is simultaneously Europeanised and domesticated in Finland, yet treated as a typical foreign news event in Sweden. Domestication increases coverage and viewpoints: in addition to the dominating news frames which present the African migrants as objects of criminalisation, control, and victimisation, reportage from Africa suggests a heroic frame. Although there are characteristics of a mediatised public crisis within the event, and therefore potential for social change through increased media salience, the main news coverage remains stigmatising – constructing a division between Europe and Africa.
This paper distinguishes between laissez-faire and interventionist models used to justify and implement cultural diversity initiatives in the news media. The laissez-faire model is characteristic of U.S journalism. However, due to the convergence of media systems and the widespread adoption of diversity management, the laissez-fair model may also become the prevalent model throughout other Western democracies, in Europe and elsewhere. The paper argues that the problem with the laissez-fair approach to cultural diversity in the media is that it relies on commercial instead of normative justifi cations. As a result, cultural diversity is mostly reduced to ornament. Equated with accuracy and treated as a business asset, diversity serves, rather than challenges, the existing media system. By failing to open suffi cient spaces for alternative social voices, business-driven media policies do not respond to the democratic needs of a multicultural society.
Different languages representing different frameworks of thought and perspectives on reality also carry different frameworks of thought on journalism and on how the profession may contribute to democracy. A shortcut to understanding varieties of journalism may be provided by the study of diff erent understandings of journalistic key notions in diff erent languages, by comparing two varieties of journalism – the “reporter” and the “publicist” tradition – in English and German. The current homogenisation of journalism, using the Anglo-American reporter traditions as the model, strengthened by the simultaneous move towards English as the international language, may be seen as a loss of diversity in journalism and even a threat to democratic diversity in Europe. An increased stress on language understanding and conceptual hygiene in the education of journalists is proposed to maintain diversity.
The Dutch government, like many other governments of advanced democracies, finds itself confronted with political disaff ection. Recent cabinets have searched for ways to reconnect with citizens. The main argument made in the article is that these eff orts are saddled with constructions of the public, which pre-empt the transformation of citizen-government relations that the government seeks. The article shows that there are many instances in which we find that government’s theories and practices of communication for reconnection are rooted in constructions of the public as a present and clearly defi ned entity, as ready and eager for constructive interaction, and for interaction about specific policies. It is argued that both assumptions about citizens fi tting these constructions and attempts at connection through these constructions are problematic. Finally, the article discusses possibilities for alternative constructions of the public, which suggests that the connection is possible if the public is constructed diff erently.