Attribution of Responsibility for Economic Policy Issues in the Mainstream Media

Susana Rogeiro Nina (2021) - Attribution of Responsibility for Economic Policy Issues in the Mainstream Media, Before (2002-2009) and after (20011-216) the Great Recession

The literature widely considers that the attribution of responsibility frame tends to prevail on media coverage of economic news, as attributing responsibility can act as a powerful frame to shape the public understanding of who is responsible for a specific economic issue. However, in a multilevel structure such as the EU, where boundaries between national and supranational levels are often blurred, a phenomenon that tends to be amplified in an economic crisis context and the increasing politicisation of European issues. This paper considers a very specific policy issue, the economic crisis, in three countries: Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Through an in-deep manual content analysis of more than 600 economic articles published in the two daily mainstream newspapers of each country, during 14 national elections held before and after the Great Recession, this paper has two goals. Firstly, to show the politicisation of EU economic issues in Ireland, Portugal and Spain, before and after the crisis. This is important because it focuses concretely on the constitutive policy issue par excellence, which reflects the Eurozone crisis in print media. Secondly, it seeks to understand which actors the national media attribute responsibility to for the economic problem in EU economic articles. The empirical evidence show that the Irish media unequivocally supra-nationalised the responsibility for European economic issues, while in Portugal and Spain the national media presented a trend to nationalise the attribution of responsibility. Moreover, in the southern European countries, national actors tended to prevail on the critical moments of national economy, such as the outbreak of the Eurozone crisis. At the European level, the actors to which the main responsibility was attributed were mainly supranational institutions.

Download Article