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Media are the communication outlets or tools used to store and deliver news, information or data. The term refers to components of the mass media communications industry, such as print media, publishing, the news media, photography, cinema, broadcasting (radio and television), and advertising. The term ‘medium’ (the singular form of ‘media’) is defined as “one of the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, as newspapers, radio, or television.”

Populists all around the world denounce the independent press and media organizations – institutions that traditionally have been considered central to liberal democracy. In the US, President Trump has frequently called the mainstream media the ‘enemy of the people, a term once popularized in the Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin. Through Twitter, Trump has cultivated a new means to communicate directly with his followers. Elsewhere, populist governments have directed funding to government-allied media and starved independent newspapers and radio of advertising revenue, as they did in Hungary, or simply commandeered the state broadcast media to serve as a government propaganda machine, as they did in Poland and Turkey.

On the other hand, Gianpietro Mazzoleni states in an article that “by looking at the most well-known cases of populist phenomena in Europe, we can see that leaders and movements often seem to rely on some sort of ‘media complicity’.” He also wrote that “in many instances, the European media appear to have contributed to a legitimization of the issues, key-words and communication styles typical of populist leaders. ‘Underdog’ leaders who strive to gain public attention have regularly proved able to exploit the media’s proclivity towards anything that ‘breaks the routine’ in political arenas, by resorting to communication strategies that ensure media coverage. The result of this ‘supply and demand’ relationship is an increased visibility and significant reverberation of the populist message among a wide audience. In other words, the media, intentionally or not, may serve as powerful mobilization tools for populist causes.

According to a research project, the media in Europe and the US, in many instances, appear to have contributed to a legitimization of the issues, key-words and communication styles typical of populist leaders. Leaders striving to gain media attention have successfully exploited the media’s eagerness to break the routine and attract public attention. Thus, the well-established mainstream media, in most countries, is arguably the mouthpiece of the ruling classes. The media tend to overtly combat/downplay/protest populist threats, contributing to their containment. Television, specifically, is central to the political process.

Moreover, Luca Manucci states in an article that the media privilege conflict and negativity, which in turn foster political alienation and cynicism, thus providing a fertile ground for populist messages. Mannuci also underlines the fact that the relationship between populist actors and the media not as a battle between two opposing logics, but rather as an integrated process of content production involving both political and media actors.

In fact, the relationship between populist discourses and the media is structured as a circular and multifaceted process involving different communication outlets and actors. In particular, this integrated approach has the advantage of explaining how populist discourses are generated and through which channels they reach different audiences without taking a normative position on the supremacy of the media sphere over politics or vice versa,” he writes.

Despite concern that the rise of populism is being driven by online media, when it comes to news, those with populist attitudes prefer offline news use – especially TV, according to a report by Richard Fletcher. He wrote that “of those with populist attitudes 46 percent say that television is their main source of news, compared to 40 percent of those without. This preference is stronger for commercial television outlets, but weaker for public service broadcasters. Indeed, public service media have been a particular target for negative attacks from populists as their influence has grown in recent years.”

According to an article written jointly by Frank Esser, Agnieszka Stępińska and David Nicolas Hopmann, media populism lends itself to three distinct perspectives:

  1. The first perspective is populism by the media. It refers to media organizations actively engaging in their own kind of populism. The discursive construction of “anti-elitism” and “appeals to the people” by and through the media are of vital importance for the understanding of populist political communication.
  2. The second perspective on media populism refers to populism through the media. The main guilt of the media not in the dissemination of their own media-specific populism but rather in the strengthening of politicians’ populist messages. In his opinion, populist parties and movements can count on some sort of “media complicity.”
  3.  Populist citizen journalism is the third way in which populist newsroom logic can be observed. It occurs when media organizations open the gates to populist messages by audience members—usually in the form of reader comments on their websites. Although the editorial content of established news outlets may pursue a calm and sober approach to populist parties, the very same outlets may give, in their online editions, space for readers’ comments and blogs—many of which apparently often actively incite hate against Roma or Muslims.

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Wojcieszak, Magdalena & Nisbet, Erik & Kremer, Lea & Behrouzian, Golnoosh & Glynn, Carroll. (2018). What Drives Media Use in Authoritarian Regimes? Extending Selective Exposure Theory to Iran. The International Journal of Press/Politics. 24. 194016121880837. 10.1177/1940161218808372.

Yang, J., Rojas, H., Wojcieszak, M., et al. (2016). Why are “others” so polarized? Perceived political polarization and media use in 10 countries. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 21(5), 349- 367.

Barberá, Pablo & Vaccari, Cristian & Valeriani, Augusto. (2017). Social Media, Personalisation of News Reporting, and Media Systems’ Polarisation in Europe. 10.1057/978-1-137-59890-5_2.

Bos, L., van der Brug, W., & de Vreese, C. (2011). How the media shape perceptions of right-wing populist leaders. Political Communication28(2), 182-206. https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2011.564605

Bos, L., van der Brug, W., & de Vreese, C. (2010). Media coverage of right-wing populist leaders. Communications : The European Journal of Communication Research35(2), 141-163. https://doi.org/10.1515/COMM.2010.008

Hameleers, M., & van der Meer, G. L. A. (2020). Misinformation and polarization in a high-choice media environment: How effective are political fact-checkers? Communication Research47, 227-250. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650218819671

Koomen, M. & A. van Heelsum, ‘The impact of public debates on Muslim representative in Western Europe: the agenda setting function of mass media’, in: M. Kortmann & K. Rosenow-Williams (eds.), Islamic organisations in Europe and the USA, a multidisciplinary Perspective, Besingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 79-94.

van Klingeren, M., Boomgaarden, H. G., & de Vreese, C. H. (2017). Will Conflict Tear us Apart? The Effects of Conflict and Valenced Media Messages on Polarizing Attitudes Toward EU Immigration and Border Control. Public Opinion Quarterly, Volume 81, Issue 2, 2017, pages 543–563.

van Klingeren, M., Boomgaarden, H. B., Vliegenthart, R., & de Vreese, C. H., (2015). Real World is not enough: Media as an Additional Source of Anti-immigrant Sentiment, a comparison between the Netherlands and Denmark, 2003-2010. European Sociological Review. Vol. 31, No. 3, 268–283.

van Spanje, J., & de Vreese, C. (2014). Europhile media and Eurosceptic voting: effects of news media coverage on Eurosceptic voting in the 2009 European Parliamentary elections. Political Communication31(2), 325-354. https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2013.828137

Vliegenthart, R., Boomgaarden, H. G., & van Spanje, J. (2012). Anti-immigrant party support and media visibility: a cross-party, over-time perspective. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties22(3), 315-358. https://doi.org/10.1080/17457289.2012.693933

Hameleers, Michael & Vliegenthart, Rens. (2019). The Rise of a Populist Zeitgeist? A Content Analysis of Populist Media Coverage in Newspapers Published between 1990 and 2017. Journalism Studies. 1-18. 10.1080/1461670X.2019.1620114.

Kroon, Anne & Trilling, Damian & Selm, Martine & Vliegenthart, Rens. (2018). Biased media? How news content influences age discrimination claims. European Journal of Ageing. 16. 1-11. 10.1007/s10433-018-0465-4.

Bos, Linda & Lecheler, Sophie & Mewafi, Moniek & Vliegenthart, Rens. (2016). It’s the Frame that Matters: Immigrant Integration and Media Framing Effects in the Netherlands. International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 55. 97-108. 10.1016/j.ijintrel.2016.10.002.

Kroon, Anne & Kluknavská, Alena & Vliegenthart, Rens & Boomgaarden, Hajo. (2016). Victims or perpetrators? Explaining media framing of Roma across Europe. European Journal of Communication. 31. 10.1177/0267323116647235.

Boomgaarden, Hajo & Vliegenthart, Rens. (2007). Explaining the Rise of Anti-Immigrant Parties: The Role of News Media Content. Electoral Studies. 26. 404-417. 10.1016/j.electstud.2006.10.018.

Markus Wagner, J.-M. Eberl and H. G. Boomgaarden; One bias fits all? Three types of media bias and their effects on party preferences. Communication Research, 2017, 44(8): 1125–1148. Paper

Silvio Waisbord. Populism as media and communication phenomenon, Routledge Handbook on Global Populism, edited by Carlos de la Torre, Routledge, 221-234, 2019.

Silvio Waisbord. Media populism: Neopopulism in Latin America. In Gianpietro Mazzoleni, Bruce Horsfield, and Julianne Stewart editors, The Media and Neo-Populist Movements, 197-216. Westport: Praeger, 2003. Republished in Portuguese in, Contracampo 28, 2013. http://www.uff.br/contracampo/index.php/revista/article/view/617

Silvio Waisbord. Regulating Hate Speech in the Bolivian Media: Underlying Issues, Jurist: Legal news and Research, http://jurist.org/forum/2010/11/regulating-hate-speech-in-the-bolivian- media-underlying-issues.php

Wettstein, Martin & Esser, Frank & Schulz, Anne & Wirz, Dominique & Wirth, Werner. (2018). News Media as Gatekeepers, Critics, and Initiators of Populist Communication: How Journalists in Ten Countries Deal with the Populist Challenge. The International Journal of Press/Politics. 23. 194016121878597. 10.1177/1940161218785979.

The Mediatization and the Politicization of the “Refugee Crisis” in Europe — Krzyżanowski, M., Triandafyllidou, A., Wodak, R. 3/04/2018 In: Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies . 16, 1-2, p. 1-14. 14 p.

Mediatization, right-wing populism, and political campaigning: the case of the Austrian Freedom Party — Forchtner, B., Krzyzanowski, M., Wodak, R. 2013 In: Media talk and political elections in Europe and America. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan p. 205-228. 24 p.

Press-party parallelism and polarization of news media during an election campaign: The case of the 2011 Turkish electionsA Çarkoğlu, L Baruh, K Yıldırım, The International Journal of Press/Politics, 2014, 19 (3), 295-317.

“Variations in Media Freedom: Why do some governments in Central and Eastern Europe respect media freedom more than others?” Central European Journal of Communication,vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 4–21 (May 2015).

“The Party Colonisation of the Media. The Case of Hungary,” East European Politics & Societies, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 67–87 (February 2013). / Re-published in: Péter Krasztev & Jon van Till (eds.): The Hungarian Patient. Social Opposition to an Illiberal Democracy. Budapest & New York: The Central European University Press, 2015, pp. 59–80.

“From One-Party to Multi-Party Media Control – and Back. Paradigm Shifts in Hungary’s Media Politics,” Global Media Journal/Slovak Edition, vol. 1. no. 1, pp. 26–41 (January 2013).

“History of the Media in Central and Eastern Europe,” Bajomi-Lázár, Péter, Aukse Balčytienė, Alena Dobreva and Beata Klimkiewicz: “History of the Media in Central and Eastern Europe,” in: The Handbook of European Communication History, ed. K. Arnold, P. Preston & S. Kinnebrock, pp. 277–298 (Wiley Blackwell, 2019).

“Inequalities and the media and the ‘Maslow pyramid’ of Journalism in Central/Eastern Europe,” in: Inequalities and the Media, ed. J. Trappel, pp. 113–126 (Göteborg: Nordicom, 2019).

“Political Actors and the Colonisation of the Media,” in Media and Politics in New Democracies: Europe in a Comparative Perspective, pp. 73–84. ed. Jan Zielonka (Oxford University Press, 2015).

De Miguel Pascual, Roberto & Berganza, Rosa. (2019). Media priming effects and ethical ambivalence in corruption scandals. In book: The routledge companion to media and scandal, pp.466-474 10.4324/9781351173001-47.

Berning, C. C., Lubbers, M., and Schlueter, E. (2019). Media Attention and Radical Right-Wing Populist Party Sympathy: Longitudinal Evidence from the Netherlands. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 31 (1): 93–120.

Blassnig, Sina; Rodi, Patricia; Tenenboim-Weinblatt, Keren; Adamczewska, Kinga; Raycheva, Lilia; Engesser, Sven; Esser, Frank (2019).  Dimensions, speakers, and targets: Basic patterns in European media reporting on populism. In: Reinemann, Carsten; Stanyer, James; Aalberg, Toril; Esser, Frank; de Vreese, Claes H.. Communicating populism : comparing actor perceptions, media coverage, and effects on citizens in Europe. New York: Routledge, 71-101.