Panel 11: Media and Governance
Chaired by: Iris Korthagen (MSc) (EUR) & prof. dr. Erik-Hans Klijn (EUR)
To an increasing degree societies are submitted to or become dependent on the media and their logic (Hjarvard 2008:113; Mazzoleni & Schulz 1999; Reunanen et al. 2010; Strömbäck & Esser 2009). This process is known as the mediatization of societies.
While the influence of media and their logic on politics is often studied, the link with policy processes and public management has received less scholarly attention (Hajer, 2009; Schillemans, 2012). However, not only politicians but also public managers have to cope with sudden media attention for their organizational actions and policy initiatives.
The logic of the media, the way media frame actions and initiatives is sometimes very different or even conflicting with the experience in daily practice and with the logic of administrative life. Where media often tend to focus on problems, conflicts and criticism in a policy process, public managers need to collaborate with stakeholders and work towards solutions and compromises.
On the other hand, media can be an instrument to sell policies as well. By news management strategies such as PR activities, public organizations can gain positive publicity (Davis, 2002; Cook, 2005; Louw, 2007; Eshuis and Klijn 2012). These strategies are increasingly important in mediatized societies, not only for politicians, but also for public managers.
The panel welcomes papers that in some way deal with (coping with) the two different logics of media and administrative life by public managers and policy makers. That can be papers either focusing on the framing of news on policy processes, or papers dealing with coping mechanisms of public managers regarding media and their logic. Moreover, the panel welcomes papers that deal with effects media and their logic have on policy processes.
The work of public managers is situated in a mediatized environment. Although the degree of mediatization varies among public institutions, policy issues or policy phases, media and their logic can have large effects on public management.
Firstly because media can shape a shared experiential world, a new political reality, through their logic. A dominance of a commercialized news media-logic results often in a simplified, dramatized and negative representation of a public organization, a policy issue or process. This might change the behavior of actors in public institutions in an undesirable manner.
Secondly, media and their logic have effects on political processes. Because of their dependence on media to reach the public, politicians adapt to the requirements of news-media forms and formats in advance. This might lead to more scandals, more political conflicts and less willingness to compromise.
This mediatized context might thus put much pressure on the work of public managers. However, they might also use media for their own goal, strengthening their position and bolstering their image. But then, they also have to accommodate media’s needs.