Stefanie Walter
Three models of the European public sphere

Journalism Studies, 2017: 18, Heft 6, S. 749-770
ISSN: 1461-670X (print); 1469-9699 (online)

While previous research has taken into account different normative theories when examining the concept of the public sphere at the national level, the underlying normative conceptualisation of the European public sphere has often remained vague. However, better understanding whether the European public sphere is functional and able to fulfil its democratic role needs further specification of the underlying normative criteria. This study considers different normative public sphere theories in the context of the European Union (EU) news coverage. Specifically, it focuses on one main criterion, namely the actor structure, and examines which normative theory is able to describe the actor structure of the EU best. The visibility of national and European governmental actors, civil society actors and citizens is examined by drawing on secondary data of a large-scale content analysis of television and newspaper articles of all 27 EU member states gathered during the 2009 European Parliament election campaign (N = 12,850).