Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2452-0063
  • E-ISSN: 2452-0071
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This article reports a comparative analysis of the media’s political agenda setting capacity in 27 European media systems, aimed at testing the hypothesis that the magnitude of this phenomenon is moderated by factors such as development of the press markets, journalist professionalization, strength of public television or political pluralism. The empirical analysis relies on data collected by the expert survey European Media Systems Survey, the World Association of Newspapers, the European Audiovisual Observatory, and the research project Providing an Infrastructure for Research on Electoral Democracy in the European Union (PIREDEU). Results show that political agenda setting is perceived as more common in press markets in which newspapers work as means of horizontal communication (and are, as subsystem, politically imbalanced), but that journalist professionalization and strength of public broadcasting systems foster political agenda setting effects.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aarts, K., Fladmoe, A., & Strömbäck, J.
    (2012) Media, political trust and political knowledge: A comparative perspective. InT. Aalberg & J. Curran (Eds.), How media inform democracy: A comparative approach (pp.98–118). New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Aarts, K., & Semetko, H. A.
    (2003) The divided electorate: Media use and political involvement. Journal of Politics65(3), 759–784. 10.1111/1468‑2508.00211
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2508.00211 [Google Scholar]
  3. Adserà, A., Boix, C., & Payne, M.
    (2000) Are you being served? Political Accountability and Quality of Government. Inter-American Development Bank Working Paper 438. New York: IADB. 10.2139/ssrn.1817237
    https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1817237 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bartels, L. M.
    (1996) Politicians and the press: Who leads, who follows?Unpublished conference paper.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Black, E. R., & Snow, P.
    (1982) The political agendas of three newspapers and city governments. Canadian Journal of Communication, 8(2), 11–25. 10.22230/cjc.1982v8n2a269
    https://doi.org/10.22230/cjc.1982v8n2a269 [Google Scholar]
  6. Brüggemann, M., Engesser, S., Büchel, F., Humprecht, E., & Castro, L.
    (2014) Hallin and Mancini revisited: Four empirical types of Western media systems. Journal of Communication, 64, 1037–1065. 10.1111/jcom.12127
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12127 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cook, F. L., Tyler, T. R., Goetz, E. G., Gordon, M. T., Protess, D., Leff, D. R., & Molotch, H. L.
    (1983) Media and agenda setting: Effects on the public, interest group leaders, policy makers, and policy. Public Opinion Quarterly, 47, 16–35. 10.1086/268764
    https://doi.org/10.1086/268764 [Google Scholar]
  8. Curran, J., Iyengar, S., Lund, A. B., & Salovaara-Moring, I.
    (2009) Media system, public knowledge and democracy: A comparative study. European Journal of Communication, 24(1), 5–26. 10.1177/0267323108098943
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323108098943 [Google Scholar]
  9. Davis, A.
    (2007) Investigating journalist influences on political issue agendas at Westminster. Political Communication, 24(2), 181–99. 10.1080/10584600701313033
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584600701313033 [Google Scholar]
  10. EAO – European Audiovisual Observatory
    EAO – European Audiovisual Observatory (2010) Yearbook 2010 – Television in 36 states. Strasbourg: EAO.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. EES – European Election Study
    EES – European Election Study (2009) European Parliament election study 2009, Voter study. Available atwww.piredeu.eu
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Green-Pedersen, C., & Stubager, R.
    (2010) The political conditionality of mass media influence: When do parties follow mass media attention?British Journal of Political Science, 40(3), 663–677. 10.1017/S0007123410000037
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007123410000037 [Google Scholar]
  13. Hallin, D. C., & Mancini, P.
    (2004) Comparing media systems: Three models of media and politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511790867
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511790867 [Google Scholar]
  14. (2017) Ten years after Comparing Media Systems: What have we learned?Political Communication, 34(2), 155–171. 10.1080/10584609.2016.1233158
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2016.1233158 [Google Scholar]
  15. Helfer, L.
    (2016) Media effects on politicians: An individual-level political agenda setting experiment. International Journal of Press/Politics, 21(2), 233–252. 10.1177/1940161215627461
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161215627461 [Google Scholar]
  16. Jones, B. D., & Baumgartner, F. R.
    (2005) The politics of attention. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Kriesi, H.
    (2004) Comparing mass communication systems: Media formats, media contents and media processes. InF. Esser & B. Pfetsch (Eds.), Comparing political communication: Theories, cases and challenges (pp.64–86). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Lengauer, G., P. Donges, & Plasser, F.
    (2014) Media power in politics. InB. Pfetsch (Ed.), Political communication cultures in Europe: Attitudes of political actors and journalists in nine countries (pp.171–195). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Maurer, P.
    (2011) Explaining perceived media influence in politics: An analysis of the interplay of context and attitudes in four European democracies. Publizistik, 56(1), 27–50. 10.1007/s11616‑010‑0104‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11616-010-0104-3 [Google Scholar]
  20. Midtbø, T., Walgrave, S., Van Aelst, P., & Christens, D. A.
    (2014) Do the media set the agenda of parliament or is it the other way around? Agenda interactions between MPs and mass media. InK. Deschouwer & S. Depauw (Eds.), Representing the people. A survey among members of statewide and substate parliaments (pp.188–208). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684533.003.0009
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684533.003.0009 [Google Scholar]
  21. Mortensen, P. B., Green-Pedersen, C., Breeman, G., Chaqués-Bonafont, L., Jennings, W., John, P., Palau, A. M., & Timmermans, A.
    (2011) Comparing government agendas: Executive speeches in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Denmark. Comparative Political Studies, 44(8), 973–1000. 10.1177/0010414011405162
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414011405162 [Google Scholar]
  22. Norris, P., & Inglehart, R.
    (2007) Silencing dissent. The impact of restrictive media environments on regime support. Working Paper.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Patterson, T. E.
    (2000) The United States: News in a free-market society. InR. Gunther & A. Mughan (Eds.), Democracy and the media: A comparative perspective. (pp.241–264). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139175289.007
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139175289.007 [Google Scholar]
  24. Popescu, M., Gosselin, T., & Santana-Pereira, J.
    (2010) European media systems survey 2010. Data set. Colchester, UK: Department of Government, University of Essex. URL: www.mediasystemsineurope.org
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Popescu, M., Toka, G., Gosselin, T., & Santana-Pereira, J.
    (2011) European media systems survey 2010: Results and documentation. Colchester, UK: Department of Government, University of Essex. URL: www.mediasystemsineurope.org
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Popescu, M., & Toka, G.
    (2008) The impact of media systems on the making of informed election outcomes. Working Paper presented at theElectoral Behaviour Researchers Colloquium. Florence: European University Institute.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Santana-Pereira, J. A. A.
    (2012) Media systems, information environments and media effects: A comparative approach to the agenda setting hypothesis. PhD dissertation. Florence: European University Institute.
  28. Santana-Pereira, J.
    (2015) Variety of media systems in third-wave democracies. InJ. Zielonka (Ed.), Media and politics in new democracies: Europe in a comparative perspective (pp.231–247). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747536.003.0015
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747536.003.0015 [Google Scholar]
  29. (2016) The Portuguese media system and the normative roles of the media: A comparative view. Análise Social, 221(4), 780–801.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Schmitt-Beck, R.
    (2004) Political communication effects. The impact of mass media and personal conversations on voting. InF. Esser & B. Pfetsch (Eds.), Comparing political communication: Theories, cases and challenges (pp.293–322). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511606991.014
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511606991.014 [Google Scholar]
  31. Semetko, H. A., Blumler, J. G., Gurevitch, M., Weaver, D. H., & Barkin, S.
    (2013) The formation of campaign agendas: A comparative analysis of party and media roles in recent American and British elections. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203709276
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203709276 [Google Scholar]
  32. Sevenans, J., & Vliegenthart, R.
    (2016) Political agenda setting in Belgium and the Netherlands: The moderating role of conflict framing. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 93(1), 187–203. 10.1177/1077699015607336
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699015607336 [Google Scholar]
  33. Sevenans, J.
    (2018) One concept, many interpretations: The media’s causal roles in political agenda setting processes. European Political Science Review, 10(2), 245–265. 10.1017/S1755773917000078
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1755773917000078 [Google Scholar]
  34. Strömbäck, J., & Dimitrova, D. V.
    (2006) Political and media systems matter. A comparison of election news coverage in Sweden and the United States. International Journal of Press/Politics, 11(4), 131–147. 10.1177/1081180X06293549
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1081180X06293549 [Google Scholar]
  35. Van Aelst, P., & Walgrave, S.
    (2011) Minimal or massive? The political agenda setting power of the mass media according to different methods. International Journal of Press/Politics, 16(3), 295–313. 10.1177/1940161211406727
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161211406727 [Google Scholar]
  36. (2016) Political agenda setting by the mass media: Ten years of research, 2005–2015. InN. Zahariadis (Ed.), Handbook of public policy agenda setting (pp.157–179). Cheltenham, Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing. 10.4337/9781784715922.00018
    https://doi.org/10.4337/9781784715922.00018 [Google Scholar]
  37. Van Dalen, A., & Van Aelst, P.
    (2014) The media as political agenda-setters: Journalists’ perceptions of media power in eight west European countries. West European Politics, 37(1), 42–64. 10.1080/01402382.2013.814967
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2013.814967 [Google Scholar]
  38. Van Kempen, H.
    (2007) Media-party parallelism and its effects: A cross-national comparative study. Political Communication, 24(3), 303–320. 10.1080/10584600701471674
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584600701471674 [Google Scholar]
  39. Vesa, J., Blomberg, H., & Kroll, C.
    (2015) Minimal and massive! Politicians’ views on the media’s political agenda setting power revisited. International Journal of Press/Politics, 20(3), 279–296. 10.1177/1940161215575391
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161215575391 [Google Scholar]
  40. Vliegenthart, R., & Montes, N. M.
    (2014) How political and media system characteristics moderate interactions between newspapers and parliaments: Economic crisis attention in Spain and the Netherlands. International Journal of Press/Politics, 19(3), 318–339. 10.1177/1940161214531335
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161214531335 [Google Scholar]
  41. Vliegenthart, R., Walgrave, S., Baumgartner, F. R., Bevan, S., Breunig, C., Brouard, S., Chaqués, L., Grossman, E., Jennings, W., Mortensen, P., Palau, A. M., Sciarini, P., & Tresch, A.
    (2016) Do the media set the parliamentary agenda? A comparative study in seven countries. European Journal of Political Research, 55(2), 293–301. 10.1111/1475‑6765.12134
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6765.12134 [Google Scholar]
  42. Voltmer, K.
    (2000) Structures of diversity of press and broadcasting systems: The institutional context of political communication in Western Democracies. Discussion Paper FS III 00–201. Berlin: WZB.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Walgrave, S.
    (2008) Again the almighty mass media? A subjective assessment of the media’s political agenda setting power by politicians and journalists in Belgium. Political Communication, 25(4), 445–459. 10.1080/10584600802427047
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584600802427047 [Google Scholar]
  44. Walgrave, S., Soroka, S., & Nuytemans, M.
    (2008) The mass media’s political agenda-setting power. A longitudinal analysis of media, parliament, and government in Belgium (1993 to 2000). Comparative Political Studies, 41(6), 814–836. 10.1177/0010414006299098
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414006299098 [Google Scholar]
  45. Walgrave, S., & Van Aelst, P.
    (2006) The contingency of the mass media’s political agenda setting power: Toward a preliminary theory. Journal of Communication, 56, 88–109. 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.2006.00005.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2006.00005.x [Google Scholar]
  46. WAN – World Association of Newspapers
    WAN – World Association of Newspapers (2010) World Press Trends – 2010 edition. Paris: WAN.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Wolfe, M., Jones, B. D., & Baumgartner, F.
    (2013) A failure to communicate: Agenda setting in media and policy studies. Political Communication, 30(2), 175–192. 10.1080/10584609.2012.737419
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2012.737419 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): expert survey; media system characteristics; political agenda setting
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error