Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-78dcdb465f-8p2q5 Total loading time: 0.312 Render date: 2021-04-18T18:49:26.372Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

Explaining the visibility of EU citizens: a multi-level analysis of European Union news

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2015

Stefanie Walter
Mannheim Centre for European Social Research, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany


This article analyses the visibility of European Union (EU) citizens in EU news during the 2009 European Parliament election. It argues that the presence of EU citizens in EU news is vital for responsiveness of European governance. First, the theoretical notion of EU citizens is considered. Next, a new way of defining EU citizens is proposed: EU citizens are divided into national and supranational EU citizens. The visibility of EU citizens in EU news of 27 EU member states is analysed aiming to explain cross-country differences. The paper is based on a large-scale content analysis of TV and newspaper articles gathered during the 2009 European Parliament election. To explain different levels of visibility, a multi-level analysis is carried out. The results suggest that EU citizens are visible in the EU news, yet, their presence strongly varies across countries. The findings indicate that explanations for different levels of visibility can be found at both the media and country level.

Research Article
© European Consortium for Political Research 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


Andeweg, R.B. and Thomassen, J.J.A. (2005), ‘Modes of political representation: toward a new typology’, Legislative Studies Quarterly XXX(4): 507528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Arceneaux, K. and Nickerson, D.W. (2009), ‘Modeling certainty with clustered data: a comparison of methods’, Political Analysis 17(2): 177190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Asp, K. and Esaiasson, P. (1996), ‘The modernization of Swedish campaigns: individualization, professionalization, and medialization’, in D.L. Swanson and P. Mancini (eds), Politics, Media, and Modern Democracy: An International Study of Innovations in Electoral Campaigns and Their Consequences, Westport, CT: Praeger, pp. 7390.Google Scholar
Beetham, D. (1991), The Legitimation of Power, Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bennett, W.L. and Entman, R.M. (2001), ‘Mediated politics: an introduction’, in W.L. Bennett and R.M. Entman (eds), Mediated Politics: Communication in the Future of Democracy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 129.Google Scholar
Bentele, G. and Fähnrich, B. (2010), ‘Personalisierung als sozialer Mechanismus in Medien und gesellschaftlichen Organisationen’, in M. Eisenegger and S. Wehmeier (eds), Personalisierung der Organisationskommunikation: Theoretische Zugänge, Empirie und Praxis, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, pp. 5175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boomgaarden, H.G., Vliegenthart, R., de Vreese, C.H. and Schuck, A.R.T. (2010), ‘News on the move: exogenous events and news coverage of the European Union’, Journal of European Public Policy 17(4): 506526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boomgaarden, H.G., Schuck, A.R.T., Elenbaas, M. and de Vreese, C.H. (2011), ‘Mapping EU attitudes: conceptual and empirical dimensions of euroscepticism and EU support’, European Union Politics 12(2): 241266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boomgaarden, H.G., de Vreese, C.H., Schuck, A.R.T., Azrout, R., Elenbaas, M., van Spanje, J.H.P. and Vliegenthart, R. (2013), ‘Across time and space: explaining variation in news coverage of the European Union’, European Journal of Political Research 52(5): 608629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brookes, R., Lewis, J. and Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2004), ‘The media representation of public opinion: British television news coverage of the 2001 general election’, Media, Culture & Society 26(1): 6380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brubaker, R. (1992), Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Brüggemann, M. and Kleinen-von Konigslöw, K. (2009), ‘“Let’s talk about Europe”: why Europeanization shows a different face in different newspapers’, European Journal of Communication 24(1): 2748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carey, S. (2002), ‘Undivided loyalties: is national identity an obstacle to European integration?’, European Union Politics 3(4): 387413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Coicaud, J.-M. (2004), Legitimacy and Politics: A Contribution to the Study of Political Right and Political Responsibility, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Commission of the European Communities (2006), White paper on a European communication policy, Commission of the European Communities, Brussels.Google Scholar
Dahl, R.A. (1994), ‘A democratic dilemma: system effectiveness versus citizen participation’, Political Science Quarterly 109(1): 2334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Daschmann, G. (2000), ‘Vox pop & polls: the impact of poll results and voter statements in the media on the perception of a climate of opinion’, International Journal of Public Opinion Research 12(2): 160181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Vreese, C.H. (2003), Framing Europe: Television News and European Integration, Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis.Google Scholar
De Vreese, C.H. (2004), ‘Primed by the Euro: the impact of a referendum campaign on public opinion and evaluations of government and political leaders’, Scandinavian Political Studies 27(1): 4564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Vreese, C.H., Banducci, S.A., Semetko, H.A. and Boomgaarden, H.G. (2006), ‘The news coverage of the 2004 European parliamentary election campaign in 25 countries’, European Union Politics 7(4): 477504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Wilde, P., Michailidou, A. and Trenz, H.-J. (2013), Contesting Europe. Exploring Euroscepticism in Online Media Coverage, Colchester: ECPR Press.Google Scholar
Delanty, G. (1997), ‘Models of citizenship: defining European identity and citizenship’, Citizenship Studies 1(3): 285303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Easton, D. (1965), A Systems Analysis of Political Life, New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
Eriksen, E.O. (2005), ‘An emerging European public sphere’, European Journal of Social Theory 8(3): 341363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
European Commission (2007), Eurobarometer 67.1 (February-March 2007), in TNS Opinion & Social. Brussels: GESIS Data Archive, Cologne, ZA4529 Data file Version 3.0.1.Google Scholar
EVS (2008), European values study 2008: integrated dataset (EVS 2008), Brussels: GESIS Datenarchiv, Köln, ZA4800 Datenfile Version 3.0.0, doi: 10.4232/1.11004.Google Scholar
Ferree, M.M., Gamson, W.A., Gerhards, J. and Rucht, D. (2002), ‘Four models of the public sphere in modern democracies’, Theory and Society 31: 289325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Follesdal, A. and Hix, S. (2006), ‘Why there is a democratic deficit in the EU: a response to Majone and Moravcsik’, Journal of Common Market Studies 44(3): 533562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gabel, M.J. (1998), ‘Economic integration and mass politics: market liberalization and public attitudes in the European Union’, American Journal of Political Science 42(3): 936953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Garcia-Blanco, I. and Cushion, S. (2010), ‘A partial Europe without citizens or EU-level political institutions’, Journalism Studies 11(3): 393411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gattermann, K. (2013), ‘News about the European parliament: patterns and external drivers of broadsheet coverage’, European Union Politics 14(3): 436457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gattermann, K. and Vasilopoulou, S. (2015), ‘Absent yet popular? Explaining news visibility of members of the European parliament’, European Journal of Political Research 54(1): 121140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gerhards, J. (1993), ‘Europäische Öffentlichkeit durch Massenmedien?’, in B. Schäfers (ed.), Lebensverhältnisse und Soziale Konflikte im Neuen Europa, Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, pp. 558567.Google Scholar
Habermas, J. (2006), ‘Political communication in media society: does democracy still enjoy an epistemic dimension? The impact of normative theory on empirical research’, Communication Theory 16(4): 411426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haller, M. (2009), ‘Is the European Union legitimate? To what extent?’, International Social Science Journal 60(196): 223234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hepp, A., Brüggemann, M., Königslöw, K.K., Lingenberg, S. and Möller, J. (2012), Politische Diskurskulturen in Europa: Die Mehrfachsegmentierung europäischer Öffentlichkeit, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hooghe, L. and Marks, G. (2001), Multi-Level Governance and European Integration, Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
Hooghe, L. and Marks, G. (2004), ‘Does identity or economic rationality drive public opinion on European integration?’, Political Science and Politics 37(3): 415420.Google Scholar
Hooghe, L. and Marks, G. (2005), ‘Calculation, community and cues: public opinion on European integration’, European Union Politics 6(4): 419443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hooghe, L. and Marks, G. (2009), ‘A postfunctionalist theory of European integration: from permissive consensus to constraining dissensus’, British Journal of Political Science 39(1): 123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hopmann, D.N. and Shehata, A. (2011), ‘The contingencies of ordinary citizen appearances in political television news’, Journalism Practice 5(6): 657671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Isin, E.F. and Wood, P.K. (1999), Citizenship and Identity, London: SAGE.Google Scholar
Iyengar, S. (1991), Is Anyone Responsible? How Television Frames Political Issues, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kleinen-von Königslöw, K. (2010), ‘Europe for the people? The Europeanization of public spheres in the tabloid press’, in D. Tréfás and J. Lucht (eds), Europe on Trial. Shortcomings of the EU with Regard to Democracy, Public Sphere, and Identity, Insbruck, Wien, Bozen: Studienverlag, pp. 4460.Google Scholar
Kleinen-von Königslöw, K. (2012), ‘Europe in crisis? Testing the stability and explanatory factors of the Europeanization of national public spheres’, International Communication Gazette 74(5): 443463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Koopmans, R. (2007), ‘Who inhabits the European public sphere? Winners and losers, supporters and opponents in Europeanised political debates’, European Journal of Political Research 46(2): 183210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Koopmans, R. and Erbe, J. (2004), ‘Towards a European public sphere? Vertical and horizontal dimension of Europeanized political communication’, Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research 17(2): 97118.Google Scholar
Lewis, J., Wahl-Jorgensen, K. and Inthorn, S. (2004), ‘Images of citizenship on television news: constructing a passive public’, Journalism Studies 5(2): 153164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Machill, M., Beiler, M. and Fischer, C. (2006), ‘Europe-topics in Europe’s media. The debate about the European public sphere: a meta-analysis of media content analyses’, European Journal of Communication 21(1): 5788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Markowski, R. (2011), ‘Responsiveness’, in B. Badie, D. Berg-Schlosser and L. Morlino (eds), International Encyclopedia of Political Science, Los Angeles, CA: Sage, pp. 23012306.Google Scholar
Meyer, C. (1999), ‘Political legitimacy and the invisibility of politics: exploring the European Union’s communication deficit’, Journal of Common Market Studies 37(4): 617639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Michailidou, A. and Trenz, H.-J. (2010), ‘Mediati(zi)ng EU politics: online news coverage of the 2009 European parliamentary elections’, Communications 35: 327346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Milbrath, L.W. (1972), Political Participation: How and Why do People Get Involved in Politics?, Chicago, IL: Rand McNally & Company.Google Scholar
Neidhardt, F. (2006), ‘Europaische Öffentlichkeit als Prozess. Anmerkungen zum Forschungsstand’, in W.R. Langenbuche and M. Latzer (eds), Europäische Öffentlichkeit und medialer Wandel: Eine transdisziplinäre Perspektive, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, pp. 4661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
O’Neill, D. and Harcup, T. (2009), ‘News values and selectivity’, in K. Wahl-Jorgensen and T. Hanitzsch (eds), The Handbook of Journalism Studies, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 161174.Google Scholar
Peter, J. and de Vreese, C.H. (2004), ‘In search of Europe: a cross-national comparative study of the European Union in national television news’, The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 9(4): 324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pitkin, H.F. (1967), The Concept of Political Representation, Berkeley, CA and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Powell, G.B. (2004), ‘The chain of responsiveness’, Journal of Democracy 15(4): 91105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Putnam, R.D. (2007), ‘E pluribus unum: diversity and community in the twenty-first century the 2006 Johan Skytte Prize lecture’, Scandinavian Political Studies 30(2): 137174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scharpf, F.W. (1999), Regieren in Europa: Effektiv und demokratisch?, Frankfurt: Campus Verlag.Google Scholar
Schuck, A.R.T., Xezonakis, G., Banducci, S.A. and de Vreese, C.H. (2010), European Parliament Election Study 2009, Media Study, GESIS Data Archive, Cologne. ZA5056 Data file Version 1.0.0, doi:10.4232/1.10203.Google Scholar
Schuck, A.R.T., Xezonakis, G., Elenbaas, M. and Banducci, S.A. (2011), ‘Party contestation and Europe on the news agenda: the 2009 European parliamentary elections’, Electoral Studies 30(1): 4152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schuck, A.R.T., Azrout, R., Boomgaarden, H.G., Elenbaas, M., Van Spanje, J., Vliegenthart, R. and de Vreese, C.H. (2011), ‘Media visibility and framing of the European parliament election 2009: a media content analysis in 27 countries’, in M. Maier, J. Strömbäck and L.L. Kaid (eds), Political Communication in European Parliamentary Elections, Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 175196.Google Scholar
Schuck, A.R.T., Vliegenthart, R., Boomgaarden, H.G., Elenbaas, M., Azrout, R., van Spanje, J. and de Vreese, C.H. (2013), ‘Explaining campaign news coverage: how medium, time, and context explain variation in the media framing of the 2009 European parliamentary elections’, Journal of Political Marketing 12(1): 828.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sifft, S., Brüggemann, M., Kleinen-von Königslöw, K., Peters, B. and Wimmel, A. (2007), ‘Segmented Europeanization: exploring the legitimacy of the European Union from a public discourse perspective’, Journal of Common Market Studies 45(1): 127155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thomassen, J. and Schmitt, H. (1999), ‘Introduction: political representation and legitimacy in the European Union’, in H. Schmitt and J. Thomassen (eds), Political Representation and Legitimacy in the European Union, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Van Deth, J.W. and Kreuter, F. (1998), ‘Membership in voluntary associations’, in J.W. van Deth (ed.), Comparative Politics: The Problem of Equivalence, London: Routledge, pp. 135155.Google Scholar
Wessler, H. (2007), ‘Politische Öffentlichkeit jenseits des Nationalstaats?’, in O. Jarren, D. Lachenmeier and A. Steiner (eds), Entgrenzte Demokratie? Herausforderungen für die Politische Interessenvermittlung, Baden-Baden: Nomos, pp. 4971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wessler, H., Peters, B., Brüggemann, M., Kleinen-von Königslöw, K. and Sifft, S. (2008), Transnationalization of Public Spheres, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wessler, H., Skorek, M., Kleinen-von Königslöw, K., Held, M., Dobreva, M. and Adolphsen, M. (2008), ‘Comparing media systems and media content: online newspapers in ten eastern and western European countries’, Journal of Global Mass Communication 1(3/4): 165189.Google Scholar
Wiener, A. (1998), ‘European’ Citizenship Practice: Building Institutions of a Non-State, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar

Stefanie Walter supplementary material S1

Appendix 1

File 32 KB

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 26
Total number of PDF views: 378 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th April 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Explaining the visibility of EU citizens: a multi-level analysis of European Union news
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Explaining the visibility of EU citizens: a multi-level analysis of European Union news
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Explaining the visibility of EU citizens: a multi-level analysis of European Union news
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *