What Politicians Look For in the News and How That Affects Their Behavior: A Uses and Gratifications Approach to Political Agenda Setting

Juho Vesa, Helena Blomberg, Christian Kroll, Peter Van Aelst


Studies have shown that politicians follow the news media closely and react to news through their parliamentary activities. However, we know little about what kinds of information politicians look for in the media and actively use when being responsive to the media. Inspired by the uses and gratifications tradition, we ask what kinds of information politicians look for in the news and how these “informational media use motives” explain their media responsiveness. A survey of Finnish parliamentarians shows that most politicians use the news to learn about society and societal problems. Politicians also use the news to look for information about public opinion, and younger politicians especially search information about other political actors. Politicians who look for information about public opinion from the media are more reactive to media regarding symbolic agendas. Politicians who use the media to learn about other political actors are more responsive to media regarding substantial agendas.


political agenda-setting, uses and gratifications, mediatization, politicians, survey, Finland

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