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Baugut, Philip; Fawzi, Nayla; Reinemann, Carsten (May 2017): Close, dependent, and out of touch with the people? Investigating and explaining local political communication cultures in a multi-level analysis. In: The International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 22, No. 3: pp. 357-379


The relationship of political actors and journalists is a central topic in political communication research. However, it remains challenging to explain the different patterns of interaction observed in different contexts. To address that challenge, this study draws theoretically on the concept of “political communication cultures” and transfers the logic of internationally comparative research to the local level to analyze patterns and causes of politics–media interactions in a large number of diverse contexts. To this end, micro-level empirical data from a representative survey of more than 600 local political actors and journalists in fifty-two German cities were integrated with macro-level data describing the social, political, and media contexts of those cities. This allows us, first, to describe patterns of politics–media relations at the notoriously under-researched local level in terms of proximity, dependency, and seclusiveness of the politics–media milieu. Second, we are able to investigate various potential micro- and macro-level causes of those patterns. We show that different dimensions of relationships are variously affected by different factors; among these, media and political competition seem to be significant predictors of politics–media relations.