Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 17, Issue 3

Rens Vliegenthart and Stefaan Walgrave, "When the media matter for politics: Partisan moderators of the mass media's agenda-setting influence on parliament in Belgium," Party Politics, 17 (May, 2011), 321-342. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
The fact that mass media coverage affects the political agenda to some extent has been substantiated in numerous previous studies. However, we know less about the contingencies of this process; the media matter more for the political agenda in some instances than in others. This study focuses on the contingencies of the media's political agenda-setting power, that is, the conditions that make the media sometimes matter and sometimes not (or less). A start has been made in earlier work to explore these conditions, but a lot remains to be done. Drawing upon an exceptionally large and broad dataset covering eight years of continuous media coverage and including the agendas of key political actors in Belgium, both government and political parties, we test a series of hypotheses about the modulators of the mass media's impact on parliament.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Correlations between different types of media
Table 2. Main effects: explaining parliamentary questions and interpellations
Table 3. Contingency models: explaining parliamentary questions and interpellations

Last Paragraph:
Finally, our article offers additional insight into the interaction between politics and the mass media - an issue that is receiving increasing attention in current political science research - and we hope to have contributed to this important line of investigation. We already knew that media coverage matters for politics. This article offers a first and tentative empirical answer to the next question: when does it matter more? We contend that the most important element of the answer lies in the institutional role of and interaction between political parties and we challenge other researchers to explore this line of research further.

Last updated April 2011