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Right-wing populism in the news media: A cross-cultural study of journalist practices and news discourse

Research project
Active research
Project period
2017 - 2020
Project owner
Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, the University of Gothenburg

Financier
The Swedish Research Council

Short description

Right-wing populism is on the rise in many European countries. Research has investigated the performative styles of political populism and argued that its rise would hardly been possible without a media-savvy rhetoric and a significant media impact. However, we have limited knowledge about the reporting on right-wing populism in different news media and political contexts.
Using a comparative approach, this study investigates journalism and news discourse on right-wing populism in four European countries (France, Greece, Sweden, UK) selected to represent diversity in e.g. the profile of the populist parties, media contexts and the roles of professional journalism.

Right-wing populism is on the rise in many European countries. Research has investigated the performative styles of political populism and argued that its rise would hardly been possible without a media-savvy rhetoric and a significant media impact.

However, we have limited knowledge about the reporting on right-wing populism in different news media and political contexts.

Using a comparative approach, this study investigates journalism and news discourse on right-wing populism in four European countries (France, Greece, Sweden, UK) selected to represent diversity in e.g. the profile of the populist parties, media contexts and the roles of professional journalism.

The study investigates how journalism handles three significant challenges.

  1. The risks of journalism creating a news discourse that significantly aligns with the styles and rhetoric of political populism.
  2. How journalism approaches the legitimacy of right-wing populism.
  3. How journalism reports on immigration, and the topics on the main agenda of the populist parties, without reproducing populist discourses.

The study applies a discourse approach to journalism focusing on different genres and subgenres, the framing of news reports and debates, interactional dynamics in interviews, and micro analyses of various discursive features in the construction of news. The empirical data includes the EU parliament Election campaign 2014 and a number of upcoming news events in 2016 and 2017.

Project members

Mats Ekström, the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Gothenburg, Sweden 

Marianna Patrona, Hellenic Army Academy, Greece

Joanna Thornborrow, University of Western Brittany, France