European integration, integration, Europe, television news, European Union, Britain, public opinion, Blumler, research, study, journalists, Eurobarometer, the Netherlands, content analysis, stimulus material, independent variable, variables, framing effects, observations, Denmark, European affairs, European citizens, media exposure, media sources, EU countries, Eurobarometer Candidate, Public opinion polls, packaging news, media content, public support, political integration, experiments, European Monetaryy Union, European countries, Comparative studies, Blumler & Gurevitch, cross-national perspective, Gurevitch, Comparative research, political system, Gurevitch & Blumler, European Monetary System
UvA-DARE (Digital Academic Repository) Framing Europe : television news and European integration
de Vreese, C.H. Link to publication Citation for published version (APA): de Vreese, C. H. (2003). Framing Europe : television news and European integration Amsterdam: Aksant General rights It is not permitted to download or to forward/distribute the text or part of it without the consent of the author(s) and/or copyright holder(s), other than for strictly personal, individual use, unless the work is under an open content license (like Creative Commons
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C H A P T E RR I Introduction n Thee process of European integration constitutes one of the most significant economicc and political developments in post-war Europe. The European communityy is an expanding entity with a common currency and advanced cooperationn in a number of areas ranging from economic policies
to defense operations.. As the European Union
moves towards increasingly advanced economicc and political integration, media, and especially news media, play an essentiall role in informing European citizens about the integration process. Givenn the high level of uncertainty and complexity of European integration, citizenss are likely to be dependent on the media for guidance in interpreting developmentss as well as forming opinions (e.g., Ball-Rokeach, 1985; Gamson, 1996;; Gavin, 1998; Herbst, 1998; Page & Shapiro, 1992). With citizens, politicians,, and policy makers relying on the news media as the most important sourcee of information when learning about 'Europe' (Eurobarometer, 56, 2002),, news media have the potential to influence and alter perceptions and evaluationss of 'Europe' by emphasizing potential gains and losses, dangers andd benefits of further integration.' Thiss study deals with the role news media play in the process of advanced economicc and political European integration. This opening chapter provides a generall introduction to the theme and the context of the study, formulates the overarchingg research question, discusses the key features of the design of the study,, and outlines the structure of the book. The project is carried out at a key momentt when the European continent is facing fundamental challenges and whenn the relationship between the political arena, citizens, and media is changing.. The examination of the link between news media production, content, and publicc opinion formation provides insights into the processes directing citizens too either embrace or discard economic and political developments in contemporaryy Europe.
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Settingg the scene: From Coal to Coins T h ee focus of the study is on the communication processes m the particular historical,, economic, and political context of European integration. A brief introductionn to the key issues is warranted. Inn the aftermath of World War II, Churchill called for a 'United States of Europe'.. T h o u g h this idea was not realized immediately, French Foreign Minister,, Schuman in 1950 proposed that France and Germany
, along with other Europeann countries, pool their coal and steel resources. In 1951 Belgium, France,, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands established ECSC, thee European Coal and Steel Community, and in 1957 treaties establishing the Europeann Economic Community (EEC) were signed in Rome. Inn 1972 the EEC expanded with Britain, Denmark, and Ireland. In 1978 the Europeann Council agreed to launch the European Monetary System (EMS) and thee European currency unit (ECU). The eight participating Member States
(Britainn stayed outside) were required to maintain their exchange rates
within certainn fluctuation margins. Almost ten years later, in 1987, the Single Europeann Act (which 'up-dated' the EEC Treaty) was implemented. Its objective was thee completion of a frontier-free market by the end of 1992. Jacques Delors was appointedd to chair a committee of experts to examine ways and means of completingg an economic and monetary union. The first stage of the European Monetaryy Union (EMU) was launched in 1990 and involved the removal of most off the remaining restrictions on capital movements, increased coordination of economicc policies, and more intensive cooperation between Central banks
. Inn 1991 the European Council agreed on The Treaty of the European Union att a meeting in Maastricht. T h e aim was the completion of the economic and monetaryy union and introduction of a single European currency. Denmark andd Britain did not participate fully in the new Union framework. Britain chosee to exclude chapters in the areas of social policy and defense. In a referend u m ,, required by the Danish Constitution, the Treaty of Maastricht was rejected.. A year later, following the Edinburgh negotiations, a new Danish referendumm fell out in favor of the Europeanists and Denmark was included in thee future cooperation of Europe on the basis of the so-called 'Danish exceptions'' which pertain to the monetary union, European citizenship plans, and defensee cooperation. Followingg the Maastricht Treaty, the euro was legally established as a currencyy and in spring 1998 the decision on participating member states wass made. Alll EU countries
joined the euro, except Britain, Denmark, and Sweden that decidedd to postpone the final decision. Dutchman W i m Duisenberg was appointedd President of the European Central Bank (ECB) and by January 1999 the conversionn rates of the participating currencies were irrevocably fixed to the
euro.. The banking and finance industries made the changeover to the euro and thee circulation of euro banknotes and coins commenced in January 2002 as the legall tender status of national banknotes and coins disappeared. Thee European countries have increased the degree of economic and political integrationn continuously since World War II. At no point so far have the developmentss towards integration taken place at such a pace as in the last decade. Thiss study was carried out between the first step (1999) and the full-blown implementationn of the euro (2002), witnessed a Danish national referendum on thee euro (2000), the lowest turnout ever in European elections (1999), the resignationn of the Santer-chaired European Commission
(1999), the Irish two-step approvall of the Treaty of Nice (2001 / 2002), the launch of an international expertt convent addressing the future of the EU (2001), and increased discussions off the EU as an international actor
in the aftermath of September 11 (2001) and thee intensified situation in the Middle-East (2002). Moreover, the issues of enlargementt of the European Union and institutional reorganization stabilized ass key points on the EU agenda bringing along debate over issues such as vote distributionn and procedures, the democratic deficit of the Union, its budget andd finances, and the structure and role of the Commission. In short, the periodd under study was a period of time with several key events that contribute to shapingg the European economic and political landscape. Publicc support for European integration Thee developments outlined above have generated heated debates in some Europeann countries. Politicians and interest groups
have outlined scenarios of Europe inn the future ranging from images of a well-united, harmonious financial world playerr to versions ofa politically integrated 'United States of Europe'. News mediaa have played a central role in the debates on Europe, some even advocating clearr pro or con European integration views such as the partisan British press. Inn Britain, Denmark, and the Netherlands, the three cases examined in this study,, Europe has been a 'hot issue' at several points over the last decades. Exampless include the large-scale demonstrations prior to the Danish 1972 referendumm on joining the EEC and the debates over 'Europe' in recent British (1997 andd 2001), Dutch (1998), and Danish (1998) national election campaigns (e.g., Andersen,, Borre, Goul-Andersen & Nielsen, 1999; Norris, Curtice, Sanders, Scammelll & Semetko, 1999; de Vreese, 2001a). The perhaps most striking exampless are the violent riots in the streets of Copenhagen succeeding the 1993 referendumm on the Edinburgh Treaty. For the first time since World War II nationall authorities opened fire on a demonstrating public. Memorable examples off EU-debates include the quota systems for agriculture and the fisheries, guideliness for the production and dissemination of cultural goods, the centralized
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approvall of size and curve of cucumbers and the 1999 resignation of the Europeann Commission based on allegations of fraud, corruption, and incompetence,, leaving the European Union without a daily management. 'Thee European House', as former Chairman of the European Commission, Jaquess Santer, labeled the integrating Europe, will neither be truly European norr have any resemblance to a house, if European citizens do not embrace the idea.. European citizens have only limited occasions at which directly to voice theirr view on the on-going integration. Referendums on the key treaties have onlyy been held in a few countries. National and in particular European electionss are opportunities for the electorate to show their (dis)content with Europeann politics. However, the legitimacy of this democratic function is challengedd by the lack of authority and competences of the European Parliament andd representativity is questioned because so few people vote in European elections,, most dramatically seen at the 1999 elections where the overall EU turnoutt dropped below 50% and turnout was 24% in Britain, 30% in the Netherlands,, and 50% in Denmark.' Overarchingg research question Thiss study takes a cross-national perspective in the investigation of the role of newss and information for the process of opinion formation in the context of Europeann integration. A study of this process in only one country would not alloww for inferences about the situation elsewhere and would hamper the generalizabilityy of the findings. Three European countries are included in the analysis:: Britain, renowned as one of the most euro-skeptic countries, Denmark,, at best 'lukewarm' towards advanced integration, and the Netherlands, a traditionallyy pro-European country. These three countries constitute the basis forr studying the dynamics between news media production, content, and the formationn of public opinion about Europe. Obviously an even more elaborate cross-nationall design would be preferable. As argued below, however, the combinationn of investigations of production, content, and effects with any crossnationall perspective is an extension of our current knowledge. Thee study focuses on the particular role of television news. In terms of audiencee responses to television news about European integration we have only limitedd knowledge though television is the main source of information for a majorityy of citizens in Europe (e.g., Eurobarometer, 56, 2002). With the exceptionn of a study of television in the 1979 European election campaign (Blumler, 1983),, most studies of the role of media in the process of public opinion formationn focus on the written press (e.g., Hoddess, 1997; Kevin, 2001; Werder, 2002).. The impact of television news on public attitudes towards European
integrationn has been largely neglected in previous research, as Gavin (2000) recentlyy concluded. Thee concept of framing is central to the Research Project
. Events have little intrinsicc value unless embedded in a meaningful framework that organizes and lendss coherence to the interpretation of events. Framing, on the one hand, referss to the packaging of information that takes place in the newsroom where journalistss must unavoidably select and prioritize to tell a story in the news. Framing,, on the other hand, also refers to the ability of message attributes to organizee experiences of situations and issues for citizens and rendering certain patternss of thoughts available for the expression of attitudes and opinions. The centrall research question links the study of television news production processess with analyses of news coverage and investigations of effects on public opinionn formation: WhatWhat characteristics of the television news production process influence the framingframing of Europe in the news and what influence does the news have on publiclic opinion about Europe? Thiss overarching research question is divided into a number of sub-questions. Thee formulation of expectations and the specific theoretical rationale for each off these questions is discussed after a review of the literature. For now it suffices too say that the study has three main components: the process of framing in the productionn of news, frames in the news, and framing effects on public opinion. 'Europee in the newsroom' investigates the role of framing in the newsrooms off European broadcasters. The organization of the production of news about Europeann affairs, the constraints and challenges facing journalists covering 'Europe',, and the considerations that go into selecting and packaging news are investigated.. 'Europe in the news' aims at identifying recurrent structures and framess in news about European integration in a cross-national, comparative fashion.. 'Europe in public opinion' finally refers to the analysis of the influence off news frames on public perceptions of European affairs. Trendss in public opinion Inn democratic systems where decision-makers are kept accountable at elections,, surveys and polls have become important ad-hoc indicators about opinionss of the electorate (Lavrakas & Traugott, 2000). Public Opinion Polls
are toolss to adjust political strategies and policies (Brettschneider, 1997). The issue off European integration is no exception to this pattern and public opinion is monitoredd closely. Beyond media commissioned polls, regular aggregate-level dataa on public opinion about issues of European integration is available from,
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forr example, the Eurobarometer reports.1 These data show considerable variationn and fluctuation in the levels of support for European integration, both in a between-countryy comparative perspective and in a within-country temporal perspective.. Britain, Denmark, and the Netherlands are three interesting cases inn terms of public support for integration. Inn terms ofgeneral supportfor membership in the EU, the overall EU average approvall rating has fluctuated from 50% to 7 0 % over the past two decades and hass been around 50-55% in the past few years (Eurobarometer, 56, 2002). Britainn is considerably below the EU average with an aggregate-level support for membershipp of around 40%, reaching a high 50% around 1990 and in the past yearss being around 30% (Eurobarometer, 56, 2002). In Denmark, public supportt for membership of the EU was below the EU average up until 1992 and has sincee been equal to the overall EU average so that support currently is around 55-60%% (Eurobarometer, 56, 2002). Public support in the Netherlands is high, withh a stable approval rate of about 70%, which is 15-20 percentage points abovee the overall EU average. Lookingg specifically at supportfor the common currency, the euro consistently hadd an overall EU wide approval rating of approximately 50%. Between 1998 andd 2002 a considerable increase in the approval rating was matched by an equall drop in the opposition to the currency so that the average currently is aboutt 60-70% in the twelve countries participating in the euro (Eurobarometer,, 56, 2002). T h e current level of support in the Netherlands is 71%, Denmarkk 4 7 % , and Britain 27% (Eurobarometer, 56, 2002). O n the issue of the euro,, however, public opinion may change rapidly (de Vreese & Semetko 2002a)) and in Britain and Sweden, public opinion is monitored closely in advancee of the up-coming referendums on the common currency. T u r n i n gg to public supportfor the enlargement of the Union, there is an overall EUU average support of about 50% for the enlargement plans (Eurobarometer, 56,, 2002). Denmark is among the strongest supporters with 69% favoring enlargementt while the Netherlands is at 58%, and the British are the most skepticall at 4 1 % (Eurobarometer, 56, 2002). Evidence from countries on the ascensionn list shows support for inclusion in the EU, but a decrease in support in recentt years is noticeable (Eurobarometer Candidate, 1, 2002; KolarskaBobinska,, Doblinska et al., 2001). Inn sum, on the aggregate level, the three countries relevant to this study can bee situated on a 'Europe Warm -- Europe Cold' scale. In Britain, public opinion iss divided and the country is among the most Europe-skeptic members of the EU,, both in general terms and with regard to specific key EU policies such as the c o m m o nn currency and the enlargement. Denmark is 'lukewarm' towards advancedd integration. O n the aggregate level, the support for membership is similarr to the EU average. The support for the euro is lower than in most other
countries,, which was demonstrated in the 2000 rejection of the euro in a nationall referendum, but support for EU enlargement is higher than in most other countries.. The Netherlands is pro-European, both in terms of general support andd in terms of support for key EU policies. Factorss influencing public opinion about Europe Beyondd descriptive summaries of developments in public opinion on key Europeann issues, the Eurobarometer reports also outline a number of bi-variate relationshipss between attitudes towards European integration and, for example, social-demographicc characteristics such as gender, age, and education. These analysess suggest main effects of gender (men being more supportive of Europeann integration) and education (higher levels of education are associated with beingg more positive towards the EU). Over time, differences in terms of age, gender,, and education have decreased, suggesting that explanations of attitudes towardss European affairs must include other predictors than social-demographicc data. Extant research investigating the antecedents of attitudes towards Europeann integration can be classified in three groups:4 PoliticalPolitical sophistication and values. The first group of studies examines the relationshipp between support for European integration and value orientations with regardd to economic and political issues
(Inglehart, 1970; 1990). Inglehart's work suggestss that political attitudes are shaped by the socio-economic environment duringg the formative years. The social-economic environment is translated into valuess and attitudes that persist in adult life. According to Inglehart, Rabier, andd Reif (1991), the European Union is a vehicle for economic, political, and sociall change towards a more egalitarian society which is more attractive to citizenss with post-materialist values. In addition, these studies suggest that high levelss of political sophistication and awareness enable citizens to identify with a supra-nationall entity such as the European Union (Inglehart, 1970). This argumentt is partly supported by Eurobarometer data that suggest that higher levels off knowledge are associated with support for European integration. EconomicEconomic experiences and expectations. The second group of studies posits thatt "EU citizens from different socio-economic situations experience different costss and benefits from integrative policy" (Gabel, 1998, p. 336). These studies explainn support for European integration in terms of income, education, occupationall skills, and proximity to border regions (e.g, Anderson & Reichert, 1996;; Gabel & Palmer, 1995)/ The proposition that attitudes towards integration,, including the common currency, is driven by economic experiences and evaluationss is also shared by Pepermans and Veleye (1998) who found national economicc pride and satisfaction to be the a key explanatory variable for support
forr the euro across the 15 EU-countries. However, Bosch and Newton (1995) did nott find any coherent pattern in their 12-country study of how economic variabless may explain support for European unification. DomesticDomestic Politics
. T h e third group of studies focuses on the effects of domesticc political considerations for attitudes towards European integration. This researchh suggests that attitudes towards European integration are a function of citizens'' partisanship and the degree to which their preferred political party is supportivee of integration (Franklin, Marsh & Wlezien, 1994; Franklin, van der Eijkk & Marsh, 1995). These studies in essence suggest that support for integrationn is mediated by party affiliation. Along these lines, studies have also suggestedd that voters' support for integration is conditional upon their support for andd evaluation of the incumbent government (Franklin et al., 1995).' Gabell (1998) examined the explanatory value of the different theories of supportt for European integration using Eurobarometer data from 1978-1992. T h ee data substantiated the claims of all of the theories, but he found 'utilitariann consequences', that is the expected economic benefits of integrative policy,, to provide the most robust explanation. Political values and sophistication,, as proposed by Inglehart (1970, 1990), received only limited support as predictorss of support for European integration, while domestic political considerations,, in the form of partisanship and government evaluations, were the secondd most important predictors. Inn a study specifically investigating voting behavior (as opposed to general attitudes)) in the 1994 European Parliamentary elections, van der Eijk, Franklin, andd Oppenhuis (1996) assessed the simultaneous influences of several theories traditionallyy used to explain party choice. They specified a model where the likelihoodd of voting for different political parties
was regressed on the influence off social cleavages, post-materialist values, ideology, issue voting, government performance,, and EU evaluations. They found that preferences for political partiess in the European Parliament elections were driven by "parties' political stancess and voters' preferences in terms of left/right ideology, issues, and governmentt approval" (van der Eijk et al., 1996, p. 359). N o n ee of the previous studies specifically address the impact of campaigns (in thee context of European elections) or news and information (in the context of understandingg general attitudes towards the EU). By and large, the impact of mediaa in understanding variation in support for European integration has been neglected.. Some studies allude to the impact of the media, such as Hewstone (1986)) who discusses the role of the press or Anderson and Weymouth (1999) whoo analyze the British press coverage of the EU. None of these studies, however, havee attempted to formally model the impact of media and communication variables.. Moreover, the discussion so far has been focused on the role of the press. .
T H EE ROLE OF THE MEDIA. T h e key question for this study is what role televisionn news plays in shaping public opinion about 'Europe'. Available data suggestt that citizens who consult several different media sources are generally more positivee towards, for example, the euro than citizens who rely on only one sourcee (Eurobarometer, 50, 1999). Such observations, however, say nothing aboutt the causality of this relationship. D o interested and pro-European citizenss turn more to the news media for information? O r does the use of multiple informationn sources contribute positively to interest and enthusiasm for integration?? In addition, such general observations fail to say anything about what informationn citizens obtain when turning to the news media and about the typess of effect this information may have. Previouss work discussing support for integration has speculated about the rolee of the media in this process.7 Norris (2000) offered initial insights into the contributionn of news media for, for example, public support for the euro and EUU membership. Drawing on survey data from several EU countries, she found aa significant effect of the tone of press coverage about the euro on support for thee euro and EU membership. This study is an initial indication of a relationshipp between tone of news and, for example, support for the EU. This investigation,, however, focused on the bivariate relationship between the slant of the newss and aggregated expressions of public opinion. Controls were only made forr cross-national differences, but there was no individual-level investigation. T h ee study was not designed to address the crucial issue of causality in the relationshipp between media content and citizen responses. O n ee study investigated how the information environment, in particular the newss media, in a referendum campaign served to crystallize opinion on an issue withinn the context of a number of other hypothesized influences on the vote (de Vreesee & Semetko, 2002c). Drawing on a nationally representative two-wave panell survey and a Content Analysis
of news coverage of the Danish 2000 euro referendumm campaign, it was found that exposure to certain media outlets, and thee tone of the coverage, influenced how voters made their decision, when controllingg for other predictors. These findings emphasize the importance of consideringg the news and information environment during a campaign and providee a direct link between exposure to the content of specific news outlets andd electoral behavior. T h ee aforementioned study of a referendum campaign on a European issue consideredd the role of media content in a specific campaign in one country. W i t hh the exception of a study of the 1979 European elections, cross-national investigationss of the role of media are rare. T h e study of the 1979 campaign addressed,, for example, the relationship between exposure to different media andd campaign evaluations (Cayrol, 1983) and media exposure and learning (Schonbach,, 1983). However, these studies offer only discussions of the
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bivariatee relationships between media exposure and a variety of dependent measures.. In sum, studies of attitudes towards European integration have beenn negligent of the role of the media in this process. Given the characteristicss of previous research, cross-national investigations of media production, content,, and effects in the context of European integration are important extensionss to the research field. Threee political systems
, three media systems, three journalistic cultures T h ee three countries in this study are interesting cases in terms of their varying rolee in the history of European integration. They also vary substantially with respectt to aggregate-level support for future European integration as discussed above.. In addition, the countries have several system-level characteristics that definee the context in which news about European affairs is produced and consumed.. In this perspective it is important to consider key features of the politicall system, the media landscape, and the 'journalistic culture' in which the processs takes place (Semetko, de Vreese & Peter, 2000). POLITICALL SYSTEM. Although Britain, Denmark, and the Netherlands are parliamentaryy democracies in which the Prime Minister is almost always the leader off the largest party in parliament, they represent different political systems. T h ee traditional British de facto two-party system is fundamentally different fromm the multi-party systems of Denmark and the Netherlands where governancee is a coalition issue. The political system in the three countries is characterizedd by continuity and change. In domestic politics, studies suggest that the alignmentt between political parties and their voters is decreasing while the numberr of vote switchers, undecided voters, and strategic voters is increasing (e.g.,, Andersen et ah, 1999; Franklin, Mackie & Valen et al., 1992). In the contextt of European integration, little is different from the national systems. The partyy systems in the EU are still essentially organized along the lines of national politics,, and no European-level party system has emerged as the result of advancedd integration (Mair, 2000).' Inn addition to the developments in the political system, the relationship betweenn politics and the media has evolved over the past decades. Broadly speakingg a transition has taken place in which more assertive journalism was paralleledd by politicians' use of streamlined communication strategies, PR, news managers,, and spin-doctors. Journalists have adapted by making the 'exposure' off professional political tactics the focus of news stories (Bennett & Entman, 2001;; Blumler & Kavanagh, 1999; Esser, Reinemann & Fan, 2001; Farrell, 1996;; Mancini, 1999; Mazzoleni & Schulz, 1999; Newman, 2000; Norris, 2000; Swansonn & Mancini, 1996).
Whilee these developments have been addressed in the context of nationallevell elections in both Europe and the US, little is known about changes in the politicalpolitical culture at the European level. Though a European party system has nott emerged, changes at the national level provide reason to believe that the Europeann political institutions have also adapted new strategies and that the mediaa have responded accordingly. Only few studies, however, have investigated thee efforts made by EU institutions to deal with public relations and media attention.. One study argued that in the wake of the Maastricht treaty, the EU was alarmedd by its inability to 'get its message across' and launched a program of providingg background information and press briefings and increased accessibilityy to documents (Tumber, 1995). A second study provides a picture of the Europeann Commission's media communication as poor and incompetent suggestingg that 'fragmented political authority', a 'pervading technocratic mindset',, and 'inadequate staffing' result in severe communication deficits (Meyer,, 1999). The study suggests that the degree of professionalization of politicss at the European level might be less prominent compared to the national level.. However, the general tendency in a number of European countries is to adaptt more advanced technical and organizational modes of communication as welll as strategic parameters of professional campaigning (Plasser, Scheucher & Senft,, 2000). MEDIAA SYSTEMS. The changes in political communication discussed above coincidee historically with significant changes in the European media landscape in generall and broadcasting in particular. Today all countries have full-blown competitionn in broadcasting and all operate in a dual system, far from earlier publicc service broadcasting monopolies (McQuail & Siune, 1998).'0 Britainn represents a European frontier in terms of broadcasting and has knownn a dual system since 1954. The British television news market is highly competitivee and dominated by BBCNews and ITN. The main evening 55Cnews bulletinn was traditionally at 9 p.m. but moved to 10 p.m. in 2002. It competes head-onn with /77Vwhich, after a rescheduling to 6.30 p.m., appeared at 10 p.m. againn in 2002. Denmarkk was a 'late arrival' in the era of deregulated broadcasting. The monopolyy of national public broadcaster - the BBC equivalent Denmark's Radio, DR,DR, (which also broadcasts television) - was challenged as late as 1988 by the launchh of the semi-public, semi-private TV2." The national channels have daily newss with DR's 'TV-Aviseri at 9 p.m. and TV2 'sy p.m. 'Nyhedernй being the markett leaders. Broadcastingg in the Netherlands is a product of Dutch society's traditionally pillarizedd structure and is entirely different from Britain and Denmark. Broadcastingg associations are organized around religious and societal segments in the
populationn and are allocated air time according to membership volume (Brants && McQuail, 1997). Commercial television was de facto introduced in the Netherlandss in 1989 with RTL broadcasting in Dutch from Luxembourg. The publicc broadcasters and private RTL4 and RTL$ lead the news market with the publicc 8 o'clock NOS bulletin and the 7.30 p.m. 'RTL Nieuws being the most widelyy watched.'2 Too understand the context in which news about European affairs is producedd an important question is whether the structural changes outlined above havee affected content and the way audiences respond to the diversity in news provision.. Over time, from 1971 to 1996, it seems that the share of news and informationn might have gone down slightly, at least in Denmark and the Netherlandss (Norris, 2000, p. 108). However, there are no comparable data available too suggest whether these changes have also been paralleled by changes in the amountt of time audiences spend on political and international news. The specificc impact on the volume of political news and audiences' exposure and attentivenesss to such news notwithstanding, the fully competitive media market is thee backdrop against which news production and content about Europe must bee seen. JOURNALISM.. A third and final aspect to consider in cross-national news researchh is 'journalistic culture' (Semetko, 1996). The orientation towards politicss and politicians by news people varies greatly in Europe. In two Comparative studies
s of the British and German press, Kцcher (1986) suggested that German journalistss place more value on opinion whereas their British counterparts see themselvess more as transmitters of facts. This finding dovetails with Blumler andd Gurevitch's (in Semetko et al., 1991) description of British television journalistss as cautious and reactive. In Spain, a comparative analysis of public servicee and commercial television news during the 1996 general elections found profoundd differences in the attitude and approach taken by the two competing newss organizations with the public broadcaster being descriptive and nonevaluativee and the private broadcaster being analytic and interpretative (Semetkoo & Canel, 1997). This suggests that news peoples' orientations differ nott only between, but also within countries. Whilee there is some evidence of how British journalists compare in their orientationss towards national politics, this is absent when looking at attitudes towardss EU politics. One study investigated the British press corps in Brussels (Morgan,, 1995), but this study does not allow for any tentative comparative expectations.. In the Danish case, virtually nothing is known about the professionall culture and attitudes of journalists. In the Dutch case, recent research suggestt that Dutch journalists consider 'being analytical' and providing 'interpretationn of the news events' important when covering politics (Deuze, 2002).
Butt this general observation tells us little with respect to journalists' attitudes towardss covering European affairs. Inn sum, this study of television news and public opinion about European integrationn takes place in a context of transition. The political system is faced with changess in electoral behavior and internationalization ofgovernance. The media landscapee has become a competitive market led by a quest for audiences, also for televisionn news. The journalistic approach to politics has evolved parallel with thee changes towards professionalization of politics (Blumler & Gurevitch, zooi).. Within these general trends, Britain, Denmark, and the Netherlands representt considerable variation on each of the variables. This is the context in whichh the findings must be interpreted. Designingg the study Ann important impetus for this study is to provide initial insights in to how news mediaa may affect public opinion about European integration. Equally important,, however, are the questions how news about European affairs is produced andd how European affairs are represented in the media. Both questions have receivedd only limited attention in previous research (Gavin, 2000; Semetko etal., 2000).. There is little known about the structure and content of economic and politicall news in a cross-national perspective, let alone in the specific context of Europeann integration. And there is even less known about the effects such coveragee might have on public opinion. CROSS-NATIONALL COMPARATIVE DESIGN. Our understanding of the relationshipp between news media and public opinion is largely based on national studies,, suffering somewhat from "naive universalism" (Gurevitch & Blumler, 1990, p.. 308) by making generalizations of theoretical propositions and single-country dataa to different political, cultural, and media systems. Comparative research is labeledd communication science's "extended and extendable frontier" (Blumler, McLeodd & Rosengren, 1992, p. 3) and has gained in scope and frequency, thoughh comparative designs are still the exception rather than the rule." Comparativee research knows several dimensions, most notably time and space.. Comparative studies often contrast findings at different levels, including system-levell variables, individual-level variables, and aggregated within-system observationss (Przeworski & Teune, 1970). Longitudinal comparative research iss often faced with severe problems of comparability. The lack of control over dataa collection poses great challenges. Researchers are often forced to make concessionss and establish "equivalencies" rather than comparing "identical measures"" (Gurevitch & Blumler, 1990). Comparative research with a cross-
nationall design (comparisons in space and between cultures) is less vulnerable too these problems. Researchers often have more control of the (systematic) collectionn of data, though this may be a highly resource demanding matter. Researchh comparing across countries is faced with other pitfalls in the attempt to interprett findings. T h ee three countries in this study represent interesting cases in terms of publicc support for European integration as well as in terms of the differences in politicall systems, media landscape, and journalism. Whereas it has been argued elsewheree that it will be "more productive to compare dissimilar than similar thingss - and much more fun" (Blumler et al., 1992, p. 280), the perspective appliedd in this project is that comparing 'pears with apples' may indeed be both interestingg and valuable in an exploratory phase, but a certain degree of similarityy is required to make comparisons worthwhile and interpretable. Nonetheless,, dissimilarity and cross-national variation, as found in the political and broadcastingg systems in Britain, Denmark, and the Netherlands is of course an essentiall premise for any insightful comparison. By using the differences in politicall and media systems, and the knowledge about aggregate-level public opinionn as the backdrop for understanding the findings, in other words as independentt systemic variables, the investigation of television news' role in the Europeann integration process is potentially enhanced beyond the level of nationall parochialism. M U L T I - M E T H O D O L O G I C A LL APPROACH. Beyond the cross-national design, a secondd feature of the study is the multi-methodological approach. T h e project integratess the study of news content with studies of production and effects. Basedd on investigations of the persuasive effects of media, Hovland (1959) concludedd that the effects found depended on the method of measurement. He demonstratedd how differently collected data
(in that case survey versus experimentation)) could be used as evidence of exact opposite hypotheses about the effectss of media. H e concluded that a test of media effects would need to balancee and integrate the strengths of measurement precision and validity offered byy each methodological approach (Hovland, 1959). T h ee plea for multi-methodological designs also refers to investigations combiningg different phases of communication processes in single studies. Shoemakerr and Reese (1996), for example, call for more studies integrating productionn and effects in an attempt to look at the general picture and not over-simplify thee actual communication process. "We cannot fully understand the effects of thatt version of social reality if we do not understand the forces that shape it" (Shoemakerr & Reese, 1996, p. 258). O n e example of an integrated design is Neuman,, Just, and Crigler (1992, p. 25) who used "content analyses to study
mediaa coverage of issues and depth interviews, surveys, and experiments to study individuall conceptualizations and mediated learning". Thee current study draws on interviews and observations in the newsroom to studyy the production process of news about Europe, content analysis to study thee media coverage, and experiments to study the effects of news on public opinion.. In the following sections, the various research methods
used to addresss the central research question are introduced. Each method is briefly definedd and its relevance to this study is discussed. The specific applications of the differentt methods as well as the operationalization of key concepts and measuress used are discussed in the relevant chapters. INTERVIEWS.. The processes underlying news stories are essential for understandingg patterns and conventions found in the content, not only during elections,, but also in relation to everyday coverage of political and economic issues. Interviewss with journalists and editors and newsroom observations are valuable sourcess for understanding the journalistic sense-making of political affairs, and interviewss provide exclusive information about news production processes, workk routines, and attitudes held by newsmakers. This stream of research using newsroomm observations and interviews has not been at the core of research agendas.. Holtz-Bacha (1999, p. 59) argued that this is because "both journalists andd politicians do not appreciate people looking over their shoulder". This observationn touches the nerve of research in this tradition. Access to newsrooms is aa prerequisite for enhancing our knowledge about news production and the interactionn between politicians and the media. Newsroom observations and interviewss have merit in themselves, but they are particularly relevant in additionn to the 'content and effects research paradigm' that prevails in election studies,, because they contribute with specific insights about why election news iss shaped as it is. Mostt European newsroom observations have been carried out in Britain withh studies of thetfBCcoverageof British elections (e.g. Blumler, Gurevitch & Ives,, 1978; Blumler, Gurevitch & Nossiter, 1989). Research outside Britain offerss comparisons between the production of different national news programs, forr example in Germany (Semetko & Schцnbach, 1994) and in Spain (Semetko && Canel, 1997). As argued above and elsewhere (Gavin, 2000) there is hardly anyy previous research available investigating the production of news about Europeann integration-issues. One exception was Noлl-Aranda's (1983) survey of broadcasterss during the 1979 European elections, but this is the only reference pointt with regard to the approach by television journalists and editors to news aboutt European integration. The current study makes an attempt to fill some off this gap by drawing on interviews with journalists and editors in a crossnationall perspective. 'Europe in the newsroom', the first dimension of this
F R A M I N GG E U R O P E
study,, is investigated by means of structured interviews with news practitioners inn the three countries to examine the organization of the coverage and the key challengess perceived by journalists and editors when reporting Europe, and to investigatee how the framing of Europe emerges within the newsroom. C O N T E N TT ANALYSIS. Content analysis of the news coverage of European affairs iss the central component of the 'Europe in the news' dimension of this study. A contentt analysis is a systematic method of research which aims at "making replicablee and valid inferences from data to their context" (Krippendorf, 1980, p.. 21). T o do so, an appropriate sample of material must be identified and reliablee procedures and measures are required.4 Inn this study data were collected during multiple periods in Britain, Denmark,, and the Netherlands. The multiple rounds of data collection
enable comparisonss of the coverage of European affairs during key events, elections, andd routine periods. T o reliably analyze and compare findings across countries andd periods, the content analysis is systematic and deductive in nature. That is too say the features of the content analysis were formulated in advance of the analysiss on the basis of the existing literature and consequently applied in the analysis.. This approach is different from, for example, an inductive approach wheree content is used to illustrate latent meaning that emerges during the researchh and is not based on a priori expectations (McQuail, 2000). T h ee content analysis identifies general and specific characteristics of the newss coverage of European affairs. The analysis serves several purposes in the overalll study. First, it provides a systematic, cross-national comparative examinationn of the news coverage with particular attention paid to the framing of Europeann issues as well as the visibility of themes and the presence of different actorss in the news. Second, the content analysis provides a valuable data base andd source of inspiration for creating stimulus material to be used in experimentss (see below). T h e findings from the content analysis validate and guide thee operationalization of the independent variables in the experiments. PUBLICC O P I N I O N . Although the premise of most studies in political communicationn is that news media have the ability to influence public opinion, there is littlee agreement on the nature of these effects (McQuail, 2000). The relative contributionn of news to the formation of public opinion is dependent on other mediaa coverage and available information as well as a variety of audiences' characteristicss such as the antecedents of support for European integration discussedd above. Opinions consist of newly acquired information meeting a set of predispositionss in terms of, for example, values and knowledge. Zaller (1992, p. 6) statess it succinctly: "every opinion is a marriage of information and predisposition".. Public opinion about Europe is the sum of the influence of new informa-
tion,, as provided for instance in news media, and existing predispositions, values,, and knowledge. To investigate the effects of television news on public opinionn about European affairs, experiments were conducted. EXPERIMENTATION.. The essence of an experiment is the manipulation of thee experimental variable under investigation and observation of changes in a dependentt variable. Brown and Melamed (1990, p- v) summarize the key principlee of experimentation as "the manipulation of a treatment variable (X), followedd by observation of a response variable (Y)" (italics in original).'1 Thee advantage of experimentation over alternative methods is the knowledgee of causation it ideally provides (Jackson, 1992; Kinder & Palfrey, 1993; Nealee & Libert, 1986). Correlations found in survey data between, for example, televisionn news viewing and the belief that unemployment is the nation's most importantt problem, are insufficient to establish a direct causal relation
ship betweenn the two observed phenomena. By creating different conditions in experiments,, the researcher can isolate and test one variable at a time. To assure that anyy variation found between the conditions is not caused by differences betweenn the individuals in the conditions, randomization procedures are used. Byy randomly assigning participants to different conditions, the contaminating influencee of other variables is ideally ruled out. Differences in the dependent measuress can then with more confidence be ascribed to the systematically manipulated,, independent variable." Ass a result of the extensive degree of control, internal validity in experimentationn is high. One potential disadvantage of experiments is the essentially unnaturall environment in which experiments often take place. Problems such ass test effects, forced exposure, and alterations in behavior and responses are recognized.. However, given the absence of research investigating the effects of newss coverage of European integration on the individual level, experimentationn is an appropriate and valuable method of investigating such effects. Experimentss provide a rigorous test of the impact of particular structures in news coveragee on, for example, public perceptions and evaluations of European policies. . CHALLENGESS IN EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH WITH TELEVISION NEWS. Beyond the moree generally applicable criticisms of experimentation, including forced exposure,, artificiality, and low external validity, an additional number of challengess pertain to experimental framing research and experimentation with televisionn news. Scholars are often not able to exercise full control over the creation off the stimulus material, i.e. specifically manipulating the independent variable whichh implies jeopardizing the experimental design
(Reeves & Geiger, 1994; Slater,, 1991).
F R A M I N GG E U R O P E
Experimentall research on the effect of news frames'mprint news requires attentionn to the construction of the frames in the composition and wording of a newss article. Such studies of effects of press, however, have a number of advantagess compared to experimental research involving television news. For print media
,, the production costs and efforts involved in producing stimulus materiall are lower than for television news. News articles can be drafted by researcherss and validated through supervision of, for example, senior journalists (e.g., Valentino,, Buhr & Beekman, 2001a). Most importantly, however, the researcherr can meet one of the requirements for genuine experimental research: fulll control over the manipulation of the stimulus material. Televisionn production, on the contrary, is expensive, labor intensive, and requiress specific technical skills. Scholars have addressed these challenges differentlyy in previous research on framing effects. Iyengar, for example, used news storiess that were "actual news reports that had been previously broadcast by one off the thee major networks" (Iyengar, 1991, p. 20). Cappella and Jamieson (i997'yy P- 90) utilized both segments already broadcast, and when these "were clearlyy of one type or the other, they were left unchanged". For other stories, the experimentall manipulation was created by retaining the original visual material,, but changing the introduction and voice-over (Cappella & Jamieson, 1997).. Yet other scholars have utilized already broadcast stories that were deemedd to be representative of a specific news frame (e.g., McLeod & Detenber,, 1999; Nelson, Clawson & Oxley, 1997). Thee drawback when opting for already broadcast news stories deemed to representt a particular form of framing is that the researcher does not have completee control over the manipulation. While a frame may indeed vary between twoo news stories, so too may a number of other aspects such as texts, use of footage,, valence off the story etc. In other words, a successful isolation of the manipulationn of the one independent variable, the news frame, is jeopardized because potentiallyy confounding variables are not kept constant. Ann important goal of this project is to address the potential shortcomings of previouss research by fulfilling the requirements for conducting experimental researchh with television news. The news stories used in this study sue produced ratherr than selected as being representative of a particular frame. This ensures fulll control over the stimulus material, i.e. variation in the manipulation only andd exclusion of other, unintended, variation in the material. In addition, it alsoo ensures that participants in the study had not been exposed to the news storyy in advance of the study. Finally, the experimentally manipulated news storyy is inserted into a simulated bulletin of the national main evening news whichh addresses the challenge of using a single stimuli design (Slater, 1991). The specificc design of the stimulus material used to address these potential shortcomingss in television news research is discussed in chapter 5 and 6.
Outlinee of the book InIn the next chapter (Chapter 2) the concept of framing is introduced. The chapterr reviews previous research in the field. A typology and an approach to studyingg the production, contents, and effects of news in a framing perspective aree proposed. Following this chapter, the book continues with its three empiricall components. These are reported in chapters 3 to 6. Chapter 3 discusses the productionn of news about European integration and draws on interviews with newsmakerss in Britain, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Chapter 4 reports the findingss of a content analysis of the television news coverage of European affairss in the three countries. Chapter 5 reports an experiment conducted to investigatee the effects of framing a European issue in the news. Chapter 6 also dealss with the effects of framing Europe and reports a second experiment. Chapterr 7 summarizes the key findings, attempts to draw both theoretical and practicall lessons, and proposes avenues for future research.
CH De Vreese