Why Do Politicians Use the Media When Making Laws? A Study On the Functional Use of Mass Media During Legislative Processes

  • Lotte Melenhorst
  • Peter Van Aelst
Chapter

Abstract

Previous work on media and politics pays little attention to why politicians use the media in their work. This chapter addresses this topic in the context of lawmaking, a fundamental policy making process. The starting point of is the information and arena model: we study whether mass media are a source of information as well as an arena for political communication to Members of Parliament when they are considering bills. The analysis is based on in-depth interviews with legislators in the Netherlands, in the context of three case studies. We find that some politicians use the mass media as a source of information in the context of lawmaking, but that the media is not very frequently used as an arena for political communication.

References

  1. Andeweg, R. B., & Irwin, G. A. (2014). Governance and politics of the Netherlands (4th ed.). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumgartner, F. R., & Jones, B. D. (1993). Agendas and instability in American politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bergman, T., Müller, W. C., Strom, K., & Blomgren, M. (2003). Democratic delegation and accountability: Cross-national patterns. In K. Strom, W. C. Müller, & T. Bergman (Eds.), Delegation and accountability in parliamentary democracies (pp. 109–220). Oxford: University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bovend’Eert, P. P. T., & Kummeling, H. R. B. M. (2010). Het Nederlandse parlement (11th ed.). Deventer: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  5. Davis, A. (2007). Investigating journalist influences on political issue agendas at Westminster. Political Communication, 24(2), 181–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Elmelund-Præstekær, C., & Wien, C. (2008). What’s the fuss about? The interplay of media hypes and politics. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 13(3), 247–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Esser, F., & Pfetsch, B. (2004). Comparing political communication: Theories, cases and challenges. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Herbst, S. (1998). Reading public opinion: How political actors view the democratic process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hess‚ S. (1984). The government/press connection: Press officers and their offices. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  10. Kunelius, R., & Reunanen, E. (2012). Media in political power: A parsonian view on the differentiated mediatization of Finnish decision makers. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 17(1), 56–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lijphart, A. (2012). Patterns of democracy: Government forms and performance in thirty-six countries (2nd ed.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Melenhorst, L. (2013). De wetgevende macht van de media? Een kwantitatieve analyse van media-effecten op de behandeling van wetsvoorstellen. Res Publica, 55(4), 481–503.Google Scholar
  13. Melenhorst, L. (2015). The media’s role in lawmaking: A case study analysis. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 20(3), 297–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Melenhorst, L. (2017). Media and lawmaking: Exploring the media’s role in legislative processes. Leiden University, Doctoral dissertation.Google Scholar
  15. Sellers, P. (2000). Manipulating the message in the US Congress. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 5(1), 22–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sellers, P. (2010). Cycles of spin: Strategic communication in the US Congress. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Shehata, A., & Strömbäck, J. (2014). Mediation of political realities: Media as crucial sources of information. In A. Shehata & J. Strömbäck (Eds.), Mediatization of politics: Understanding the transformation of Western democracies (pp. 93–113). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Thesen, G. (2012). Political agenda setting and the mediatization of politics: How the media afect political issue attention & party competition. Paper presented at the Comparative Policy Agendas Conference, Reims, France.Google Scholar
  19. Van Aelst, P., & Vliegenthart, R. (2013). Studying the tango: An analysis of parliamentary questions and press coverage in the Netherlands. Journalism Studies, 15(4), 392–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Van Aelst, P., & Walgrave, S. (2016). Information and arena: The dual function of the news media for political elites. Journal of Communication, 66(3), 496–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Van Aelst, P., Melenhorst, L., Van Holsteyn, J., & Veen, J. (2015). Lawmaking and news making: Different worlds after all? A study on news coverage of legislative processes in the Netherlands. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 22(1), 534–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Van Aelst, P., Santen, R. V., Melenhorst, L., & Helfer, L. (2016). From newspaper to parliament and back? A study of media attention as source for and result of the Dutch question hour. World Political Science, 12(2), 261–282.Google Scholar
  23. Van Santen, R., Helfer, L., & Van Aelst, P. (2015). When politics becomes news: An analysis of parliamentary questions and press coverage in three West European countries. Acta Politica, 50(1), 45–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Vliegenthart, R., & Walgrave, S. (2011). Content matters: The dynamic of parliamentary questioning in Belgium and Denmark. Comparative Political Studies, 44(8), 1031–1059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Vos, D. (2014). Which politicians pass the news gates and why? Explaining inconsistencies in research on news coverage of individual politicians. International Journal of Communication, 8, 2438–2461.Google Scholar
  26. Wolfe, M. (2012). Putting on the brakes or pressing on the gas? Media attention and the speed of policymaking. Policy Studies Journal, 40(1), 109–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lotte Melenhorst
    • 1
  • Peter Van Aelst
    • 2
  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenNetherlands
  2. 2.University of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

Personalised recommendations