The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies

Symbiotic leader-media relations? Exploring interaction between prime ministers and the media in Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden

Field: Statsvetenskap
Project leader: Karl Magnus Johansson
Starting year: 2014

This research programme explores leader-media relations – mainly interactions between prime ministers (and their communication aides) and journalists – in Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. More specifically, the programme addresses three scholarly and related themes: (1) the ‘presidentialization’ of politics; (2) the ‘personalization’ of politics; and (3) the ‘mediatization’ of politics. The programme goes beyond existing research in two central respects. First, it integrates the themes of ‘presidentialization’, ‘personalization’ and ‘mediatization’ of politics. Second, the programme includes and assesses the full spectrum of leader-media relations – personal as well as impersonal relations. Our starting assumption is that these relations are mutually reinforcing and symbiotic rather than adversarial, but this is an open and empirical question to be explored in this programme. We will rely on complementary forms of primary material in our case studies. Interviews and content analysis will be our main research techniques. The programme adopts a comparative research design, with empirical research in a cross-national context. There is variation in our set of selected countries both regarding media system and political system. We propose a highly integrated programme, in which all researchers work with the same research problem in a comparative research design and in a concerted effort to exploit the synergies between the academic disciplines of political science and journalism/media studies. The programme is inter-disciplinary by linking these academic disciplines, on the basis of our shared concern with political communication. The programme includes researchers with strong publication records, and has close ties to internationally leading scholars.