EU Differentiation, Dominance and the Control Function of Journalism
Asimina Michailidou and Hans-Jörg Trenz
Differentiated integration in the EU is a challenge to established media organisations and journalism and their function to guarantee broad news coverage of EU affairs and to control EU governance. A well-functioning journalism in democracy needs to be fact-oriented and critical. In the EU differentiated system of expert governance, this means for journalists that they need to be not only experts themselves, but also critical voices. They need to be able to provide both facts and critical arguments to put EU government to the test and allow for an informed judgment of the citizens. A well-functioning Brussels journalism is constrained, however, by the parallel processes of differentiation of the public sphere and the media. The problem here is not only the national segmentation of journalism but also the requirement for journalism specialisation and the retreat of EU journalism into niches, which reduces the overall visibility of EU news and addresses very different audiences from very different platforms and perspectives. At the same time, established news organisations face financial constraints and increasingly find it challenging to build capacities to follow the differentiation of EU governance and to address its arbitrary effects critically. We argue in this paper that the parallel development of EU differentiation and journalism differentiation requires further investigation, in order to determine how these two processes – in synergy or independently of each other – may fuel arbitrariness, unaccountability and expertisation of EU policy-making. Insofar as that is the case, it comes at the expense of EU representative institutions and processes that are meant to hold EU officials democratically accountable. We propose a model or a framework that allows us to analyse the mutual relationship between journalism differentiation and EU differentiation and that draws attention to the role of Brussels correspondents as potential EU public sphere entrepreneurs.
This paper was first published as EU3D Research Paper No. 3 at SSRN. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3529331