Party Populism and Media Access: The News Value of Populist Communication and How It Is Handled by the Mass Media

Franzisca Schmidt


The continuing successes of populist parties across Europe direct us to comprehensively examine the circumstances contributing to their growth. In this context, the question is often asked whether and to what extent the mass media provide a stage for populist messages and actors. The aim of this article is to discuss the relationship between party populism and media access and to analyze whether the use of populist communication is a successful strategy for disproportionate media attention. Through an input-output analysis, the article provides information about the specific proportions of populist party input that made it into news coverage. A quantitative content analysis of press releases and political news coverage in four EU countries shows that only in certain countries do political actors receive overproportionate visibility because of their populist communication. Moreover, all newspapers have a corrective effect on the dissemination of populist party statements. Thus, despite the news value inherent in populist communication, the mass media do not play an unreservedly conducive role in the promotion of populism.


populism, party communication, news value, news reporting

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