Research Report WP 5

RECON Summer School

Mediating European Democracy: Comparative News Media and EU Treaty Reform in 14 Member States (2004-2007)

Ulrike Liebert and Hans-Jörg Trenz with Alexander Gattig, Sönke Maatsch and Regina Vetters

December 2008


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This report analyses the meanings involved in the ‘reconstitution of democracy in Europe’ from the perspective of the public sphere, more particularly, the mass media. It adopts the method of comparative political discourse analysis and aims at contributing to the current state of the art in four respects:
  • A systematic stock-taking of public-sphere research (theoretically and methodologically, with a particular focus on empirical comparative media analysis)
  • An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative methods and their applications to European media analysis in order to develop a methodology for the RECON project, aimed at combining the depth of qualitative interpretative analysis with a largest possible scope of cross-national quantitative comparison
  • Constructing the hitherto most comprehensive empirical knowledge base on media discourses on EU treaty reform, by incorporating the findings on TCE ratification, failure and crisis (2004–5) from two previous research projects, EU-CONSTITUENCY and ConstEPS (see also Special Issue of Perspectives on European Politics and Society), as well as constructing a new data set on the subsequent reflection period and run-up to the Lisbon Treaty
  • A testing of the RECON models of democracy with the aid of this comprehensive comparative survey of media discourses debating the most recent stage of the European treaty reform.
Parts of this report draw on results from the RECON Summer School 'Advanced Methods and Techniques in Media Analysis', which was organised by the University of Bremen in 2007. 


Table of contents


In Search of the European Public Sphere: State of the Art

Methods of Comparative Media Analysis

Findings from Comparative Media Analysis I: The TCE Gridlock

Findings from Comparative Media Analysis II: The Route to the Lisbon Reform Treaty

Transnational Media Debates: Quantitative Analysis

Media Discourses of EU Treaty Reform: Which Democracy?