Media coverage of right-wing populist leaders

Communications 35 (2):141-163 (2010)
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Abstract

This article focuses on how leaders of new right-wing populist parties are portrayed in the mass media. More so than their established counterparts, new parties depend on the media for their electoral breakthrough. From a theoretical perspective, we expect prominence, populism, and authoritativeness of the party leaders' media appearance to be essential for their electoral fortunes. We used systematic content analyses of 17 Dutch media outlets during the eight weeks prior to the 2006 national elections and compared the appearances of four right-wing populist and seven mainstream party leaders. This article makes two contributions to the existing literature: First, we develop valid and reliable indicators of authoritativeness and populism and apply them to a systematic content analysis. Second, we show that more successful right-wing populist leaders were more prominent during the election campaign and that the most successful right-wing populist leader also appears more authoritative in the news.

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