Oana STEFANITA, EU – from media discourse to citizens’ interpersonal conversation agendas

Abstract: The paper addresses the role of media in the Europeanization process, in determining the transition from a Romanian public sphere to a Europeanized Romanian public sphere, by analyzing the influence of media coverage of European topics on people’s discussions about the European Union. The Europeanization of media discourse is an essential step in the construction of a Europeanized public sphere (Koopmans & Erbe, 2003; Brüggemann & Königslöw, 2009), and a key element of the theoretical frame of the realist model that guides the analysis (de Vreese, 2007). However, a Europeanized media communication model does not necessarily ensure the interest of citizens or their involvement in discussions regarding EU topics. For an accurate analysis of the
Europeanization process of the national public sphere, both levels should be considered. Therefore, the research consisted in a comparative approach between media coverage of the EU topics and their reflections on citizens’ conversations and attitudes towards EU.
In order to analyze the Europeanization process at the level of media discourse a quantitative research⃰ was conducted which consisted in a content analysis of a corpus of 6626 news from March 2013 on the two main online news portals in Romania, ziare.com and hotnews.ro (according to the ranking on trafic.ro). We aimed to see how visible and prominent are the news on EU topics as compared to other types of news in the online Romanian media; which are the most visible actors in the European news and whether the EU topics are presented from a European or a national perspective.
To analyze the short-term media effects, the transition of EU subjects and perspectives from media to citizens’ interpersonal conversation agenda, 20 interviews were conducted at the end of March 2013 among Romanian master students to see how young
and educated people relate to EU topics and get involved in discussions. The research questions that guided the analysis were: Which are the European topics that raised people’s interest or determined them to enter discussions, and to what extent the topics
match those covered in the media?; To what actors they refer mostly when discussing EU topics as compared to the most visible actors at the news level?; Which is the contextualization of the EU topics within discussions and to what extent it corresponds to
the one prevailing in the news?
The results indicate a lack of real connectivity to the European Union as a whole both at the level of media coverage, and at the level of citizens’ interest since the Europeanization of the national public sphere is in its early stages. The aspects that have a national impact or a direct relevance for personal activities are still the main ones that
stimulate the interest in EU topics and the involvement in discussions.

Keywords: public sphere; Europeanization; Europeanized national public spheres; media coverage; citizens’ agenda; EU visibility; EU prominence; EU actors; contextualization; people’s interest.

To cite the article: ŞTEFĂNIŢĂ, Oana. “EU- from media discourse to citizens’ interpersonal conversation agendas”. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Studies and Environmental Communication 2.2 (2013): 25-37.

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