© 2017

How Political Actors Use the Media

A Functional Analysis of the Media’s Role in Politics

  • Peter Van Aelst
  • Stefaan Walgrave

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. Conceptualizing Media Influence in Politics

  3. The Media as a Source of Information

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 105-105
    2. Stefaan Walgrave, Julie Sevenans, Alon Zoizner, Matthew Ayling
      Pages 127-145
  4. The Media as a Political Arena

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 165-165
    2. Caroline Dalmus, Regula Hänggli, Laurent Bernhard
      Pages 187-205
    3. Christoffer Green-Pedersen, Peter B. Mortensen, Gunnar Thesen
      Pages 207-223
  5. Combining Information and Arena

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 281-282

About this book


This book investigates how individual politicians and political parties political actors strategically make use of the media to reach their political goals. Looking beyond a purely Americentric viewpoint, the chapters present data from more than ten Western democracies to argue that the media are both a source of information and an arena for political communication. This double functional role of the media is examined from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective, including chapters dealing with different aspects of politics - from campaigning to law making - and within different political contexts. The role of the news media is discussed from the perspective of the political actor, focusing on both the opportunities and the constraints the news media provide, resulting in a multidisciplinary text that will appeal to students and scholars of both communication and political science.  


politicians political parties campaigning lawmaking Western democracies

Editors and affiliations

  • Peter Van Aelst
    • 1
  • Stefaan Walgrave
    • 2
  1. 1.Universiteit AntwerpenAntwerpenBelgium
  2. 2.Universiteit AntwerpenAntwerpenBelgium

About the editors

Peter Van Aelst and Stefaan Walgrave are professors in political science at the University of Antwerp, Belgium and leading members of the research group ‘Media, Movements and Politics’( They have published widely on the relationship between media an d politics and the agenda-setting role of the media. 

Bibliographic information


“How Political Actors Use the Media’ is a unique and coherent collection of well written chapters focusing on a very important topic. The eminent list of editors and contributors are among the best scholars worldwide on this topic. Centred around four core questions on the relationship between media and politics, the chapters address different sub-questions, using different methods, and provide evidence from a range of countries. The editors’ mission, to show that the media have a double function for political actors, being both a source of information and an arena that they need to access, is forcefully accomplished! This book is likely to set an agenda for further research in this area and become the key reference point for such future work.” (Claes de Vreese, University of Amsterdam)

“This book offers a rich exploration of how politicians use the news media. A common ‘information and arena’ framework provides a degree of focus that is rare in edited volumes. The result is a rich set of ideas about how to understand the media arena and its role in politics.” (Lance Bennett, University of Washington)