Political Transparency and its Effects on the Media: A Study of the Eurocrisis

  • Maarten Fröling


The perceived importance of both transparency and openness has never been greater and more lucid in modern society than they are at the present day. Demanded by the public, and both catalysed and facilitated by the Internet, governments and other institutions have increased their direct communication to their subordinates in a substantial manner. As the exercise and importance of communication increases, accordingly will the effect it has on power and influence. French philosopher Foucault argues that the holder of information has the power to shape and create discourse and thereby influence behaviour and response (1978). Public relations (PR), specifically political public relations (PPR), has the prime function to inform the general public about important issues regarding the own conduct. This form of, what Heald defined as downward transparency, facilitates that “the ruled can observe the conduct behaviour, and/or results’ of their ‘rulers’” (2006, p. 27). The main objective is to research whether PPR, in the form of press releases and statements, is able to influence the debates in the media on a certain topic. In other words, it is assessed whether and to what extent the media directly adopts the information it is given by a political actor. In order to answer this research focus, a case study format is adopted in the form of the PPR of the European Council (EC) during the European Sovereign debt crisis.


Berkowitz, D. (1993). Work rules and news selection in local TV: Examining the businessjournalism dialectic. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 37, pp. 67-81.

Callaghan, K. & Schnell, F. (2001). Assessing the Democratic Debate: How the News Media Frame Elite Policy Discourse. Political Communication, 18, pp. 183-212.

Cameron, G. T., Sallot, L. M. & Curtin, P. A. (1997). Public Relations and the production of news: Critical review and theoretical framework. Communication year book, 20, pp. 111-115.

Cohen, S. & Young, J. (1973). The manufacture of news, deviance, social problems and the mass media. Newbury Park. Sage.

Curtin, P.A. (1999). Re-evaluating public relations information subsidies. Market-driven journalism and agenda-building theory and practice. Journal of Public Relations Research, 11, pp. 53-90.

Curtin, P.A. & Rhodenbaugh, E. (2001). Building the news media agenda on environment: A comparison of public relations and journalist sources. Public Relations Review, 27, pp. 179-105.

Davis, A. (2001). Public Relations, news production and changing patterns of source access in the British national media. Media Culture & Society, 22 (1), pp. 39-60.

Dimitrova, D. V. & Strömbäck, J. (2005). Missing accomplished? Framing of the Iraq war in the Elite Newspapers in Sweden and the United States. Gazette: The International Journal for Communication Studies, 67 (5), pp. 399-417.

Dimitrova, D. V. & Connolly- Ahern, C. (2007). A Tale of Two Wars: Framing Analysis of Online News Sites in Collation Countries and the Arab World During the Iraq War. Howard Journal of Communication, 18 (2), pp. 153-169.

Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm. Journal of Communications, 43 (4), pp. 52-58.

Foucault, M. (1978). Security Territory, Population. In lectures at the College de France 1977-1978. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/7861907/Foucault-security-territorypopulation

Froehlich, R. & Rüdiger, B. (2006). Framing political Public Relations: Measuring success of political Communication strategies in Germany. Public Relations Review, 32, pp. 18-25.

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard University Press.

Heald, D. & Hood, C. (2006). Transparency; The Key to better Governance? Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Heider, F. (1930). Die Leistung der Wahrnehmungssystems. Zeitschrift für Psychology, 114, pp. 371-394.

Hiebert, R.E. (2003). Public Relations and propaganda in framing the Iraq war: a preliminary review. Public Relations Review, 29, pp. 243-255.

Kahneman, D. & Tversky, A. (1979). Prospect Theory: An analysis of Decision of Risk. Ecometrica, 47 (2), pp. 263-292.

Lakoff, G. (2002). 2nd Edition. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. London Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.

Lim, J. & Jones, L. (2010). A baseline summary of framing research in public relations from 1990 to 2009. Public Relations Review, 36, pp. 292-297.

Lyengar, S. (1991). Responsible? How television Frames Political Issues. Chicago, London.The University of Chicago Press.

Luther, C.A. (2005). Framing of the 2003 U.S. – Iraq war Demonstrations: An analysis of News and Partisan texts. Journalism & Mass Media Quaterly, 82 (1), pp. 78-96.

Schoemaker, P. J. & Reese, S. D. (1991). Mediating the message: Theories of influence on mass media content. New York: Longman.

Spielvogel, C. (2005). “You know where I Stand”: Moral Framing of the War on terrorism and the Iraq War in the 2004 Presidential Campaign. Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 8 (4), pp. 549-570.

Van Slyke Turk, J. (1998). Public relations’ influence on the news. In R.E. Hiebert (Ed.), Precision public relations (pp. 224-239). New York: Longman