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Strategies of Secession and Counter-Secession

Relations between Political Actors and Journalists in the Era of Social Media in Central and Eastern Europe

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Civil Society
Political Parties
Political Cultures
Bogusława Dobek-Ostrowska
University of Wrocław
Bogusława Dobek-Ostrowska
University of Wrocław

The digitalization of the media and the development of new technologies, particularly social media, contribute to media fragmentation. It is already possible to distinguish, as I have tried to highlight in my analysis, the different ways in which politics is covered. In Europeʼs case, including Poland, traditional public and commercial media still play a leading role in political communication. However, as the example of Barack Obama, and subsequently Donald Trump and other American candidates in the elections, as well as politicians, shows, social media - Facebook and later Twitter - constitute an increasingly important channel of political communication. Thus, current political communication studies in Europe should take into account not two but three types of media - public, commercial, and social. The role of public media in politics in CEE countries is an ongoing question. On the one hand, it is unknown whether they can survive in the saturated market, and if so, in what form. We can presume that the politicians will lose their monopoly and control over them, which will cause politicization to disappear, as politicians will no longer be able to influence the media content. Such a perspective seems to be closest to the countries included in the Hybrid Liberal (and Northern models, such as Estonia, Latvia,and Lithuania. After murder of investigative journalist, Jan Kuciak in 2018, the future of Slovakia seems uncertain. On the other hand, entrenched journalism in public media will not be eliminated, and strong political instrumentalization, partisanship, and structural bias will not only persist but will be strengthened. This is confirmed by the case of Polish public television TVP after the 2015 elections; the aforementioned casus of orbánization of the media in Hungary, where, according to Ash, `we seemingly have pluralism, but all media owners are Orbán’s acquaintances; as well as a deep politicization of the media in Bulgaria and Romania, reflected in the highest (1.09) cluster profile among the eleven countries of the region surveyed by Castro-Herrero et al., (2017).
Commercial media will distance themselves from politics, and the horse-race coverage and escapism will become their most convenient strategy. On the other hand, maybe the fragmentation will result in all parties, even the smallest ones, having their own medium. What about local media? Their future is the biggest question mark. Maybe the public will take matters into their own hands and replace commercial media with their own teams open to the problems of the community. Today, all options seem possible,
Social media, Facebook, and above all Twitter, have thoroughly transformed the nature of political communication in the last decade. The public sphere has become open to every citizen, who wants to promote and circulate ideological values and political views, sympathies or antipathies toward political actors. The personal logic of the users (politicians and non-politicians) meets party logic and political bias. For this reason, studies on coverage of politics on social networks and their significance to politics are one of the biggest research challenges.
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