Critical Perspectives on the European Mediasphere. The intellectual work of the 2011 European media and communication doctoral summer school.

Title chapter: The flip-side of mediatised politics: ‘Unpackaging’ politics to avoid publicity
Author: Juho Vesa
Keywords: political communication, media events, publicity, politicians
Abstract: A central argument in theories of mediatization is that the selectivity in the media presentation of politics affects the behaviour of political actors: they adapt to the media logic (Meyer, 2002; Hjarvard, 2008; Strömbäck, 2008). I argue that this adaptation is only one side of the story. This is because political actors do not always try to maximise their opportunities to get their views and actions onto the media agenda. I propose that politicians have various means of avoiding publicity that are diametrically opposed to the tendency to adapt to media logic. To avoid media attention, politicians can manage and communicate decision-making processes in ways that reduce their newsworthiness. Politics is ‘un-packaged’. This flip-side of mediatization is not equivalent to secrecy or the non-mediatised elite’s retreat to closed-door cabinets, which would annoy the increasingly intrusive news media, but is something more subtle. This argument is backed up with a case study focusing on the Finnish government’s State Productivity Programme. I will show to what extent this policy-making process was debated on the media agenda and what kind of strategies the decision-makers used to avoid or calm down public debate over this unpopular policy.
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