Policy-making and public debate
My PhD focuses on the interplay between news media, public debate and policy-making in Finland. How do policy-making institutions and political culture, on the one hand, and the media system and journalistic culture, on the other hand, affect the way that public policies are debated in the media? Does the mediatisation of politics result in more openness and accountability, or more secrecy and a growing distance between backstage and front-stage politics? I will answer these questions with four case studies. The first case is the State Productivity Programme, launched by the Finnish government in 2003. I study when and why the policy process was covered and debated in the media and how the responsibility of political actors was presented in the media. The second case study is about the SATA-committee, which was appointed to reform the social security system in Finland. The members of the committee seem to have tried to keep the news media away from the negotiations. I am interested in the tension between the increasingly intrusive media and political bargaining. The third case study is about the public debate on nuclear power. I will study the strategic communication of nuclear power advocates and opponents. What arguments are used in public vs. private lobbying? In the fourth case study, I look at how media coverage of law-making processes has changed during the last 50 years. Have the media become more selective, focusing on law-making processes that fit into ‘media logic’? And how have changes in the institutional context of law-making affected the public debate? To study these cases, I analyse media content quantitatively and qualitatively, conduct interviews with elite actors and analyse policy documents such as draft legislation.