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Comparing Media Systems
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  • 3 b/w illus. 18 tables
  • Page extent: 360 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.53 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521543088 | ISBN-10: 0521543088)

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published April 2004

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$41.99 (P)

Comparing Media Systems

This book proposes a framework for comparative analysis of the relation between the media and the political system. Building on a survey of media institutions in eighteen West European and North American democracies, Hallin and Mancini identify the principal dimensions of variation in media systems and the political variables that have shaped their evolution. They go on to identify three major models of media system development, the Polarized Pluralist, Democratic Corporatist, and Liberal models; to explain why the media have played a different role in politics in each of these systems; and to explore the forces of change that are currently transforming them. It provides a key theoretical statement about the relation between media and political systems, a key statement about the methodology of comparative analysis in political communication, and a clear overview of the variety of media institutions that have developed in the West, understood within their political and historical context.

Daniel C. Hallin is a Professor of Communication and an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. He has written widely on media and politics, including studies of media and war, the shrinking soundbite in television news, the history of professionalism in American journalism, and the media and the process of democratization in Mexico, as well as earlier studies of U.S. and Italian news with Professor Mancini. His previous books include The “Uncensored War”: The Media and Vietnam and We Keep America on Top of the World: Television Journalism and the Public Sphere. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Communication, Political Communication, Media Culture & Society, the Journal of Politics, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications, and have been translated into many languages. He has served as editor of The Communication Review and as an at-large board member of the International Communication Association.

Paolo Mancini is presently a full professor at the Dipartimento Istituzioni e Società, Facoltà di Scienze Politiche, Università di Perugia. He is also the Director of Centro Interuniversitario di Comunicazione  Politica  (Interuniversity Center of Political Communication).

  He received his Laurea degree from the Facoltà di Scienze Politiche and his Dea at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science  Sociales of Paris. Professor Mancini went on to teach at various institutions in Italy and abroad including the University of California, San Diego, and Università di Perugia and was a Fellow at the  Shorenstein  Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard University.  Professor Mancini is the author of a number of books including his most recent, Il sistema fragile (2000). With David Swanson he edited Politics, Media and Modern Democracy. Professor Mancini is also corresponding editor of many journals including European Journal of  Communication, Press/Politics, The Communication Review, Political Communication, and Journalism Studies.



W. Lance Bennett, University of Washington
Robert M. Entman, North Carolina State University

Editorial Advisory Board

Larry M. Bartels, Princeton University
Jay G. Blumer, Emeritus, University of Leeds
Daniel Dayan, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Paris, and
University of Oslow
Paolo Mancini, Università di Peruia
Pippa Norris, Harvard University
Barbara Pfetsch, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Socialforschung
Philip Schlesinger, University of Stirling
David L. Swanson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Gadi Wolfsfeld, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
John Zaller, University of California, Los Angeles

Politics and relations among individuals in societies across the world are being transformed by new technologies for targeting individuals and sophisticated methods for shaping personalized messages. The new technologies challenge boundaries of many kinds  – between news, information, entertainment, and advertising; between media, with the arrival of the World Wide Web; and even between nations. Communication, Society, and Politics probes the political and social impacts of these new communication systems in national, comparative, and global perspective.

Titles in the series:
C. Edwin Baker, Media, Markets, and Democracy
W. Lance Bennett and Robert M. Entman, eds., Mediated Politics: Communication
   in the Future of Democracy

Bruce Bimber, Information and American Democracy: Technology in the Evolution of
   Political Power
Murray Edelman, The Politics of Misinformation
Frank Esser and Barbara Pfetsch, eds., Comparing Political Communication: Theories,
   Cases, and Challenges

Hernan Galperin, New Television, Old Politics: The Transition to Digital TV in the
United States and Britain

Myra Marx Ferree, William Anthony Gamson, Jürgen Gerhards, and Dieter Rucht,
   Shaping Abortion Discourse: Democracy and the Public Sphere in  Germany and the
   United States
Robert B. Horwitz, Communication and Democratic Reform in South Africa
Richard Gunther and Anthony Mughan, eds., Democracy and the Media: A
   Comparative Perspective

Pippa Norris, A Virtuous Circle: Political Communications in Postindustrial  Society
Pippa Norris, Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty, and the Internet

Adam F. Simon, The Winning Message: Candidate Behavior, Campaign Discourse
Gadi Wolfsfeld, Media and the Path to Peace

Comparing Media Systems


Daniel C. Hallin          Paolo Mancini
University of California            Università di Perugia

The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA
477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia
Ruiz de Alarcón 13, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Dock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa

© Daniel C. Hallin and Paolo Mancini 2004

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2004

Printed in the United States of America

Typefaces Minion 11/13 pt. and Centaur     System  LATEX 2e    [TB]

A catalog record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data available

ISBN 0 521 83535 6 hardback
ISBN 0 521 54308 8 paperback


    List of Figures and Tables page viii
    List of Acronyms xi
    Preface xiii
1 Introduction 1
Part I. Concepts and Models
2 Comparing Media Systems 21
3 The Political Context of Media Systems 46
4 Media and Political Systems, and the Question of Differentiation 66
Part II. The Three Models
5 The Mediterranean or Polarized Pluralist Model 89
6 The North/Central European or Democratic Corporatist Model 143
7 The North Atlantic or Liberal Model 198
Part III. The Future of the Three Models
8 The Forces and Limits of Homogenization 251
9 Conclusion 296
    Bibliography 307
    Index 329

List of Figures and Tables

3.1 Relation Between Literacy Rate in 1890 and Newspaper Circulation in 2000 page 64
4.1 Relation of Individual Cases to the Three Models 70
6.1 Left-Right Positions of German and Swedish Media 182
2.1 Newspaper Sales per 1,000 Adult Population, 2000 23
2.2 Gender Differences in Newspaper Reach, 2000 24
2.3 Proportion of Public Watching or Reading News Every Day, and the Ratio of Television to Newspaper Consumption, European Union Countries, 2001Gender Differences in Newspaper Reach, 2000 25
2.4 Public Broadcasting Systems 42
3.1 Consensus vs. Majoritarian Politics 51
3.2 Effective Number of Political Parties and Index of Polarization, Average Figures for 1945–89 60
4.1 The Three Models: Media System Characteristics 67
4.2 The Three Models: Political System Characteristics 68
5.1 Functions of Paragraphs in U.S. and French News Stories 99
5.2 Party-Press Parallelism in Italian Newspaper Readership, 1996 102
5.3 Party-Press Parallelism in Spanish Newspaper Readership, 1993 105
6.1 Political Activity among Norwegian Journalists, 1970s 157
6.2 Political Affiliations of Danish Newspapers 179
6.3 Contrasting Stories on Immigration in the Danish Press 184
7.1 Party-Press Parallelism in British Newspaper Readership 213
7.2 Contrasting Stories on Immigration in the British Press 214
7.3 Percent of U.S. Cities with Competing Daily Newspapers 220
9.1 Pattern of Variation in Four Media System Dimensions 299

List of Acronyms

AGI Agencia Giornalistica Italia
ASNE American Society of Newspaper Editors
BBC British Broadcasting Corporation
CBC Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
CSA Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel
DNVP German National People's Party
DR Danmarks Radio
EBU European Broadcasting Union
ECU European Currency Unit
EU European Union
FCC Federal Communications Commission
IBA Independent Broadcasting Authority
ITC Independent Television Commission
ITV Independent Television
IU Izquierda Unida
NOS Dutch Broadcasting Foundation
NUJ National Union of Journalists
ORTF Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française
PASOK Panhellenic Socialist Party of Greece
PBS Public Broadcasting System
PCC Press Complaints Commission
PCI Partido Comunista Italiana
PP Partido Popular
PSOE Spanish Socialist Workers Party
RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana
RTF Radio Télévision Française
RTVE Grupo Radio Televisión Española
TUC Trades Union Congress
WAN World Association of Newspapers
WTO World Trade Organization


We don’t remember exactly when the idea of this book was born. Probably at the moment we were finishing our first joint enterprise, “Speaking of the President,” which was published in 1984, we already had a strong sense that this kind of research was extremely promising and that we should try to do it more systematically and on a broader scale. Little by little, through other experiences of comparative studies on particular subjects, we conceived the idea of this project. Briefly, what we have set out to do is to find out whether it is possible to identify systematic connections between political and mass media structures. We were curious, in particular, whether it made sense to think in terms of distinct models of journalism and of the media-politics relationship. This has been an ambition in the field of communication since Four Theories of the Press, and it also seemed to us, as we began to survey the variety of media systems in Western Europe and North America, that there really were clusters of media system characteristics that tended to co-occur in distinct patterns. We introduce a schema centered around three models of journalism and media institutions in the pages that follow – though with plenty of qualifications about the variation that exists within and between actual media systems belonging to these three models. We have tried to carry out this effort at comparative analysis empirically, without having in mind any ideal professional model of reference against which other systems would be measured – eschewing the normatively centered approach that, as we will argue in the pages that follow, has held back comparative analysis in communication. At the same time, we will try in this book to assess weaknesses and strengths of each media system model as a support for democracy; this much of the normative orientation of communication theory is certainly worth maintaining.

  For methodological and practical reasons that we explain in the following text, we chose to confine this study to a limited set of countries that have much in common in terms of their history, culture, and institutions, those of Western Europe and North America. We do believe that much of the analysis will be of interest to those studying other regions, and we will say a little about how we see our models in relation to the rest of the world; we will also stress that we don’t intend any of this analysis simply to be applied to other systems without modification.

  Our experience carrying out this project was genuinely exciting: We discovered interesting peculiarities we didn’t expect, and similarities appeared where we had expected differences. We enjoyed stimulating discussions with colleagues in different parts of the world. We challenged our linguistic abilities, and spent many hours trying to interpret one another’s drafts and forge our separate ideas into a single, coherent argument. (We know that university review committees sometimes believe that co-authoring a book is only half as much work as writing a single-authored one, but we can assure them that this is not the case!) This book was written partially in San Diego and partially in Perugia. Jet lag was a common challenge, and long transoceanic flights were often the occasion for new ideas and improvements. In the end we don’t claim to have presented a fully finished analysis; the state of comparative study in communication is too primitive for that, both conceptually and in terms of available data and case studies. We believe we can offer important results, but more than anything else we think we have been able to point to possible areas and strategies for future research.

  The “official” beginning of the project was a conference organized in Berkeley in 1998; during and since that seminar we have taken advantage of the suggestions of many colleagues and the help of several institutions. We would like to acknowledge their help here. The University of California, San Diego, has supported both of us with travel grants and teaching opportunities that were important occasions for discussing and writing this book. The Center for German and European Studies of the University of California, Berkeley, made possible the organization of the 1998 conference, as well as funding some of our content analysis and a graduate seminar we taught jointly at the University of California, San Diego. Grants from Università di Perugia, progetti d’Ateneo, provided additional resources for traveling. A grant from RAI, Radiotelevisione Italiana, made possible the collection of much of the documentary data. A seminar organized by the Institut für  Journalistik at the University of Dortmund in connection with the Erich Brost Stiftungsprofessor provided an important opportunity for discussion of some of our early results. A visiting professorship at the University of Düsseldorf, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinshaft and organized by Professor Karin Böhme-Dürr, provided important opportunities for research, as did a United States Information Agency (USIA) Academic Specialist grant for travel to Greece. Meetings organized at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and by the Journalists Union of Macedonia and Thrace were also very useful.

  Stlianos Papathanassopoulos, Ralph Negrine, Winfried Schultz, Wolfang Donsbach, José Luis Dader, Michael Gurevitch, Peter Humphreys, Erik Neveu, Katharina Hadamik, and Gerd Kopper attended seminars during which we discussed our project, and they have been very helpful in providing both information and critiques of our ideas. We bored other colleagues in various parts of the world asking them to read parts of the book and to correct our mistakes. The reactions of Peter Humphreys, James Curran, Lennart Weibull, Raimo Salokangas, Robert Hackett, Winfried Schultz, Kees Brants, Jay Blumler, Stylianos Papathanassoupolos, José Luis Dader, Isabel Fernández, and Erik Neveu to our drafts have been very useful. We asked many colleagues to help us with information we lacked about particular countries. In addition to those we have mentioned, we received help from Els de Bens, Monika Djerf-Pierre, Tom Olsson, Jan Ekecrantz, Yuezhi Zhao, Rudi Renger, Nelson Traquina, Eric Darras, Yoram Peri, and Sigurd Høst. At various times we discussed the content of this book with Cees Hamelink, Peter Dahlgren, Kaarle Nordenstreng, Klaus Schoenbach, Rod Benson, Partick Champagne, Dominique Marchetti, Holli Semetko, and J.M. Nobre-Correia. Raquel Fernández, Llucia Oliva, Juan Diez Nicolas, and Maria-Teresa Cordero were very helpful in arranging interviews in Spain. Many journalists, media regulators, and others in a number of countries were also willing to give their time for our questions. Rod Benson and Mauro Porto did the coding and helped to develop the content analysis reported here. Alain Cohen and Ferruh Yilmaz provided help with translations.

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