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Newspaper attention and policy activities in Spain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2013

Laura Chaqués Bonafont*
Universitat de Barcelona and Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), Spain
Frank R. Baumgartner*
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Laura Chaqués Bonafont Professor of Political Science Universitat de Barcelona Departament de Dret Constitucional i Ciència Política Avinguda Diagonal, 690 08002 Barcelona Spain Email:
Frank R. Baumgartner Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professor of Political Science The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 313 Hamilton Hall Campus Box 3265 Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3265 USA Email:


Spain's newspapers are characterised by strong partisan identities. We demonstrate that the two leading newspapers nonetheless show powerful similarities in the topics of their coverage over time. The media system is strongly related to the policy process and it shows similar levels of skew (attention focuses on just a few topics) and friction (attention lurches rapidly from topic to topic) as others have shown for policy processes more generally. Further, media attention is significantly related to parliamentary activities. Oral questions in parliament track closely with media attention over time. Our assessment is based on a comprehensive database of all front-page stories (over 95,000 stories) in El País and El Mundo, Spain's largest daily newspapers, and all 7,446 oral questions from 1996 to 2009. The paper shows that explanations of friction and skew in governmental activities should incorporate media dynamics as well. Political leaders are clearly sensitive to media salience.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013

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