2004
Volume 43, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 1384-6930
  • E-ISSN: 1875-7286

Abstract

The political agenda-setting effect of media storms. A story-level analysis

The political agenda-setting effect of media storms. A story-level analysis

This paper studies the political agenda-setting effect of media storms. Over an eight-year period (2001-2008), it examines the extent to which media storms in Belgium (Flanders) led to action in the Belgian federal Parliament. It then compares the agenda-setting effect of those media storms with the effect of a random sample of general (‘non-storm’) news coverage. Quantitative story-level analyses show that media storms, more than non-storms, lead to political reaction. In particular, they generate more consequential types of political reaction such as mentions by the Prime Minister or bills. However, an in-depth look at those instances where media storms led to the initiation of a bill, nuances these findings, in the sense that media storms not often lead to ‘new’ bills; rather, they accelerate or highlight the existing legislative process. Politicians strategically use media storms as a ‘window of opportunity’ to get their bills on the political agenda.

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