A study of the visibility of Finnish Members of the European Parliament in the Finnish media
The concept of identity has recently become an important theme in social sciences. My aim is to apply this concept to political journalism by studying how the media represent the identity of the Finnish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The theoretical framework of my research is based on identity theories by Stuart Hall, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, and I apply also Erving Goffman’s framing theory to explain how the media represents politicians. In media texts discourses can be distinguished that offer politicians different subject positions. Through these subject positions the media construct politicians’ identities by directing them to a range of locations and giving them antagonistic placements regarding other possible positions. Critical discourse analysis, by Norman Fairclough, offers the methodological framework to my study. I analyse my data with linguistic tools with aim determining the spectrum of identities the Finnish media give to the Finnish MEPs. The primary data of my study is a collection of news articles from two sources: Helsingin Sanomat, the daily paper with the largest circulation in Finland, and Internet news by YLE, Finland’s public broadcast company. I have chosen two six month periods of time to examine. Both periods take place during the term of the European Parliament, avoiding election campaigns, to focus the study on the general publicity of the MEPs. As secondary data, the research is supplemented by interviews of Finnish MEPs with the aim of hearing their views of how the media represent them. The analysis is implemented at three levels: 1/ a quantitative analysis of all the news articles that concern the Finnish MEPs in the chosen time periods, 2/ an overall analysis of different discourses and subject positions in the data, and 3/ a more detailed linguistic analysis of texts chosen from the data. The research process is iterative and as in discourse analytic studies, my study does not include specific hypotheses, despite this the study will find the spectrum of MEP’s professional identities. The final goal of the research is to develop a Finnish MEP’s identity profile, which gathers different subject positions and discourses used in the media.