Absent yet popular? Explaining news visibility of Members of the European Parliament

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Publication details

JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
DateE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2014
DatePublished (current) - 5 Jan 2015
Issue number1
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)121-140
Early online date21/11/14
Original languageEnglish


Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) represent their citizens in EU policymaking having the power to approve, amend or reject the near majority of legislation. The media inform EU citizens about their representatives and are able to hold them publicly accountable. However, we know little about whether, and to what extent, MEPs are visible in the news. This study investigates the visibility of MEPs in national broadsheets in Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. It seeks to explain individual-level variation by employing an original dataset of news visibility of 302 MEPs over a period of 25 months (09/2009-09/2011) and tests the applicability of the news values and mirror theories in the context of supranational politics. The results show that political office, length of tenure and domestic party leadership have a positive effect. Legislative activities have a mixed effect on MEP news visibility. Attendance negatively affects news visibility, while non-attached MEPs receive more news coverage. In short, despite the core supranational nature of EP legislative politics, MEP news visibility primarily depends on journalists’ domestic considerations. This informs both our understanding of MEP parliamentary behaviour and journalism studies in the context of the EU.

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