What Politicians Learn from the Mass Media and Why They React to It: Evidence from Elite Interviews
This chapter explores the informational function of the mass media in politicians’ work. More precisely, it focuses on instances where political elites actively use media coverage in their political work—called “political agenda-setting processes”. It tries to understand what role the media precisely play in these instances. The central claim is that the interpretation of media effects on political agendas is dependent on two factors: (1) what politicians learn from the media when they react to it and (2) which motivations underlie politicians’ reactions to media information. The author develops a theoretical model that integrates the various possible learning and motivational mechanisms. By means of in-depth interviews, she tests whether political elites themselves confirm the existence of these mechanisms.
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