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The Staging of Politics in Television

The Staging of Politics in Television

The institute has participated, with a qualitative analysis, in an empirical study on the staging of politics in German television for the Federal Agency for pPolitical Education. Here, the qualitative analysis complemented a quantifying study, for which cooperating partners from the Munich Institute for Communications Studies and Media Research were responsible.

The qualitative study examined the question as to which strategies for staging were used by the television stations in reporting on politics, and it discusses the possible consequences for the public’s image of politics. From the perspective of content, the news factors – here personalisation and focussing on elites – appeared, above all, as effective criteria for selection. 

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Project Description

The presentation of politics showed itself to be strongly focussed on decision-making phases (vs development and implementation) and blanked the existing multiplicity of political alternatives almost completely out. In this way, the complexity of the political process becomes invisible. Stylistic devices, such as, for instance, ritualisation or the use of metaphors and symbols were used frequently but relatively uniformly. Creative elements in staging, such as special effects, language and cross-sectional diagrammes, were used sparingly, yet displayed an enormous variety.

There appeared to be little difference between public service and private stations. What was more decisive was the time available in the particular news formats. Overall, the analysis shows that staging in the media follows, above all, the pressure of concentration.

On the basis of the project’s findings a multimedial educational format is to be developed in 2007 and will make the strategies of staging specific to television accessible for schoolchildren at secondary level. The intention is to enable them to „read” political reporting in television and to filter out from the typical television presentation the important information on what is happening in politics to form a comprehensive opinion. The Institute is participating in developing this educational format.

Project Information


Duration: 2006-2007

Involved persons

Prof. Dr. Christiane Eilders

Third party

Cooperation Partner

Contact person

Christiane Matzen, M. A.
Head of Science Communication

Christiane Matzen, M. A.

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17 41

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