The relation between political scientists and the media is fragile; from both sides opportunism can have a major influence. Both political scientists as well as politicians should thus reflect on the role both parties can and want to assume. The symposium presents 2 contributions coming from both sides, offering analysis and insight. The first article by Dave Sinardet discusses important aspects of the role political scientists can play in the media. He states that it is the responsibility of social scientists to participate in the public debate and to adjust form, style and use of language of the media in order to shape a public opinion. The second article by the editor of a Belgium newspaper incites political scientists to closer examine their wishes and aspirations regarding their role in the media. O. van Zijl
Political scientists often see differences among citizens in the level of their political knowledge as an explanatory variable of their political behavior. To determine whether political interest is a motivating factor in obtaining political knowledge via the media, questionnaire data obtained in 1975 from 1,977 respondents ages 16-74 in the Netherlands were analyzed. It was expected that a high level of political knowledge would lead to a better perception of political advantage & profit. Surprisingly, the results showed that political knowledge was obtained from other channels besides the media, & that the perception of political advantage & profit did not account for the level of knowledge. The way in which the concept of political knowledge is measured deserves closer scrutiny by political scientists. 4 Tables, 4 Figures, 25 References. Adapted from the source document.
There seems to be a growing consensus on the personalization of politics, meaning that not parties but individual politicians have increasingly become the central actors in politics. The media, especially TV, are given a prominent role in this tendency toward 'candidate-centered politics'. In this article we discuss the role of newspapers in this regard. Is there a more personalized & less party political way of reporting in the written press? On the basis of a longitudinal study (1958-1999) of two Flemish newspapers, we found only a modest & gradual tendency toward a personalization of politics. Political parties have not been removed to the backstage of political reporting & remain a dominant player in the written press. 6 Tables, 1 Figure. Adapted from the source document.