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Europe’s Future in the Media – A Comparison of German and Dutch Newspapers as Public Fora of Communication

Open Panel

Abstract

This paper analyzes newspapers’ coverage on the issue of European integration within two European member states and different types of newspapers. The aim is to depict similarities and differences within the media discourse on this topic, either according to country or to newspaper type, following the question what characterizes the debate on European integration in German and Dutch daily print media. As the distance between decision-makers and citizens in international regimes like the EU is even larger than normally in modern democracies, their dependency on the media to inform the citizens increases proportionally. (de Vreese et al. 2006) The media consequently maintain a powerful position which enables them to influence public discourse on the European Union extensively. However, media coverage on the EU remains highly nationalized which supposedly leads to twenty-seven different media images at least and just as many public debates on the EU. As national publics are also fragmented, there is not one public debate but many (Schlesinger 2001), meaning that opinions on European integration may differ substantively. Based on these considerations, a quantitative and qualitative content analysis on German and Dutch daily newspapers is being conducted on the issue of European integration. Opinion articles from correspondents and experts within the newspapers are analyzed alongside with reader opinions taken from the newspapers’ websites. Following this methodological approach it is possible to see, whether opinions on the process of European integration concur with the images displayed in the newspapers. National quality newspapers, local and tabloid newspapers are compared. This allows for the possibility to compare not only national media publics, but sub-publics according to newspaper type and respective readership. This paper assumes that newspapers’ ways of framing European integration matches with the main notion among their readerships, as these gain almost all information on the EU through media coverage.