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Revista Latina de Comunicación Social # 070 – Pages 891 to 912

[ Research ] [ Funded ] | DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2015-1077en | ISSN 1138-5820 | Year 2015

How to cite this article in bibliographies / References

J-L González-Esteban, G López-García, G Llorca-Abad, C-M López-Rico (2015): “Media Treatment and analysis of political leadership in the local press during the

2015 regional elections in the Valencian Communiy”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 70, pp. 891 to 912.

http://www.revistalatinacs.org/070/paper/1077/47en.html

DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2015-1077en



Media Treatment and analysis of political leadership in the local press during the 2015 regional elections in the Valencian Communiy

J-L González-Esteban [CV] [ORCID] [ GS] Lecturer Department of Journalism – University Miguel Hernández, UMH, Spain - jose.gonzalez@umh.es

G López-García [CV] [ORCID] [ GS] Lecturer Department of Journalism – University of Valencia, UV, Spain - Guillermo.Lopez@uv.es

G Llorca-Abad [CV] [ORCID] [GS] Lecturer Department of Journalism – University of Valencia, UV, España - german.llorca@gmail.com

C-M López-Rico [CV] [ORCID] [ GS] Researcher - University Miguel Hernández, UMH, Spain - carmenmarialr@gmail.com

Abstract

The study of the 15M social movement, and then its transition into a political party like Podemos is of particular interest in different fields such as sociology, politics and also journalism. This is also the case regarding the emergence of Ciudadanos into the political and media arena, or the consolidation of a local political force like Compromís in Valencia. In this context, a study has been made of the media-opinion coverage of these political parties and other traditional parties in Valencia during the election campaign for the 2015 Regional Elections, which led to a change in government after twenty years with the Partido Popular in power. This study has been carried out within the framework of the national R+D Mediaflows project (Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness) and focuses on influence: who influences who, in what way and what are its effects. We focus on the flows that information circulates on, because this enables us to see how messages are translated and how agendas are combined in their attempt to influence the public. We aim to find out which are the most influential and which direction or directions the transmission of information flows in. The methodology includes two methods - quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative aspect is carried out using the framing theory to analyze speeches and contexts, and the qualitative aspect basically uses focus group tools and in-depth interviews. The main objective is to analyze the regional leadership of these parties in the traditional local press in this Community: in the province of Castellón, the newspaper Mediterráneo, from the Zeta group; in Alicante, the newspaper Información, from Prensa Ibérica group; and in the province of Valencia, the newspaper Las Provincias from Vocento group. This research serves as a means of comparing regional leaders’ presence and the analysis of their speeches in these local newspapers. Some are leaders of consolidated parties with years of experience in government, or they are members of the opposition parties; others are newcomers, but they are backed by vigorous political brands with high profile leaders like Pablo Iglesias or Albert Rivera.


Keywords

Political Journalism, Local Journalism, Valencian Community, leadership, elections


Contents

1. Introduction. 2. Methodology. 3. Results. 3.1. Case for Las Provincias-Valencia (Vocento). 3.2. Case for Información-Alicante (Prensa Ibérica). 3.3. Case for Mediterráneo-Castellón (Zeta). 4. Conclusions. 5. Bibliography.


Translation by Lorraine Mealing BA Modern Languages (Spanish and Russian) Thames Valley University: MA TESOL Reading University

1. Introduction

In sociology, political leadership is seen as “exercising power or influence on social collectives such as groups, communities or nations. This exercise of power is mediatized by the personal charisma of the leader, which is an elusive concept and difficult to define, although it is a “characteristic that is intrinsic to the study of political leadership whose analysis cannot be overlooked” (Deusdad Ayala 2001: 212)” (Jiménez-Díaz, 2008).

On 24th May 2015, the Valencian Community experienced an electoral catharsis which would lead to a change in Government after more than two decades under the political governance of the Partido Popular in Les Corts and in the municipal councils of the main cities in this Autonomous Community: Valencia, Alicante, Elche, Castellón, etc. The voters wanted the new Autonomous Parliament to be formed as illustrated in the following graph (1), comparing results for the same elections in 2011, when the PP obtained an overall majority with Francisco Camps as leader of the conservative party.

2015 2011



Illustration1. Source: Newspaper Información

The economic crisis that has been dragging on in Spain since 2008 "has produced noticeable changes in the practices and values that ​​ both political leaders and the public have to take on in the management and experience of this situation” (Jiménez-Díaz, 2013)

In the May 2015 elections, the leaders of the main political parties who were standing for election with options of gaining a seat in this autonomous parliament were: Alberto Fabra (PP), Ximo Puig (PSPV-PSOE), Mónica Oltra (Compromís), Carolina Punset (Ciudadanos), Antonio Montiel (Podemos), and Ignasi Blanco (EUPV), who finally, and by a narrow margin, did not achieve parliamentary representation. In the words of the political scientist Gutiérrez-Rubi, “being emotional and provoking emotions is the key. Being moved by social change, by new ideas and by new challenges” (Gutiérrez Rubi, 2009). In this sense, and as a means of reflecting on and understanding the election results analyzed in this article, this author adds “the ability that the progressives have to transmit their passion for changes, enthusiasm for ideas and illusion for everything else will become the emotional key that will enable them to connect with the public”. In contrast to this, we are reminded of Machiavelli in The Prince back in 1513, about those attitudes by governors which caused rejection in the people. “The Prince should avoid all those things which could make him hated or despised. If he does so, he will have fulfilled his part and will find no danger in other reproaches. What makes him hateful above all else is being above all else is being rapacious and a usurper of the property (and the women) of his subjects. (Maquiavelo, 1981).

Leadership in political action is fundamental to achieving objectives, and the media has a unique role in this sense, since “the idea of ​​journalism as a mediating agent between the public and political actors is the third function of the standard model. This notion implies, on the one hand, that the journalistic profession should deal with politically relevant Information, produce it and disseminate it to the public, who otherwise would not be informed ​” (Casero, 2012).

The media’s function as a public service has become a current issue “which took on special relevance in Europe after the closure of the Greek public television and, in Spain, after the recent closure of Valencian Radio and Television (RTVV). In May 2014, a group of international experts met in Valencia in order to debate and propose solutions for this situation, as stated by John Barsby, a BBC journalist for more than 30 years, “the future of the media in Europe is not guaranteed […] and civil society should do everything they can to defend it as an irreplaceable service” (Muñoz-Guerrero, 2014). For this reason, online media and social networks now play an important role in informing the public.

In this study, we focus on the different levels of leadership. On the one hand, there are the regional leaders who were practically unknown to the public in the Valencian Community at the start of the election campaign: Antonio Montiel (Podemos), Carolina Punset (Ciudadanos), but they were standing for election under rising political brands with well-established and publically supported national leaders: Pablo Iglesias (Podemos) and Albert Rivera (Ciudadanos). On the other hand, there are the well-established regional leaders who are well-known to the public, because they are in Government like Alberto Fabra (PP), in the opposition, or have considerable political experience like Mónica Oltra (Compromís), Ximo Puig (PSPV-PSOE) or Ignasi Blanco (EUPV).

We should also consider the use of online channels where “information often becomes the headline and, the meeting or political arguments are condensed into a slogan, preferably disseminated via the social networks” (López-García el al. 2015). The most important social network representing leadership, Twitter, and the parameter of the followers that each leader has is as follows: Mónica Oltra: 98.500; Alberto Fabra: 37.300; Mariano Rajoy: 806.000; Ximo Puig: 12.000; Pedro Sánchez: 158.000; Carolina Punset: 11.800; Albert Rivera: 284.000; Antonio Montiel: 3.256; Pablo Iglesias: 966.000. López Burniol poses a question about the difference between politicians and leaders: “Simply that leaders perceive the country’s situation clearly, create a future project, present it earnestly and people follow them because they have credibility and, consequently identify with them. In contrast, politicians limit their work to conquering and preserving power, using marketing methods” (Lopez Burniol, 2006). What we have here is a clear media personalization (Rodríguez-Virgili, 2014), which is apparent in this study.

Proximity journalism and leadership in the political context of media personalization, and the role of all local-traditional media in processes like the current one are also interesting areas of analysis. As early as 1920, research by Lippmann about The New York Times determined that the press was far from adequately fulfilling their task of informing and setting the bases for democracy, creating a well-informed public opinion and generating the necessary social consensus (Rodríguez, 2014). At that time, it was not new for the emerging media to be closer to those in power than to the public, it was even said that “the present democratic crisis is a crisis of journalism” (Lippmann, 1920). Much later, one of the paradigms of media personalization, the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, assures that “plurality and freedom of expression in the private media has owners who can ultimately exploit their power” (Iglesias, 2014).

2. Methodology

The main aim of this article is to study the leadership of the traditional parties (PP, PSOE, Compromis), and emerging parties (Ciudadanos, Podemos) in three of the most important newspapers in the Valencian Community (Las Provincias, Mediterráneo and Información) during the regional election campaign. To do so, an analysis is made of election news items published in the abovementioned papers from 8th to 22nd May.

To achieve our objectives, we use a quantitative and qualitative methodology: firstly, a quantitative analysis for news items; and secondly, an analysis of the opinion pieces (editorials and articles) in the abovementioned local newspapers, paying special attention to the treatment that these leaders are given. With respect to the quantitative analysis, we analyze a total of 1017 items from three newspapers, divided into journalism genres: news, interviews, reports chronicles and some profiles. As the online editions of the three newspapers are limited, on some occasions we have studied certain items from printed editions. The appearance of local and national leaders in these news items are also quantified.

For the qualitative aspects of this research, the framing theory is applied to analyze discourse in opinion pieces (editorials and articles), working on the following concepts in the construction of opinion discourse related to political groups and their respective regional and national leaders: change/new scenario, fear/nerves, influence/rise (simple and overall) majorities, campaign/strategy and two- party/multiparty. The text analysis of these concepts leads to three final variables about the content of these texts with respect to the leaders’ interests: favorable, neutral or unfavorable. A total 616 opinion texts were analyzed with some regional leader prevalence, and 96 with national leader prevalence. According to Lakoff, the so-called conceptual frames influence our political perceptions and our voting perceptions. This author considers that these frames can be modified through political discourse. Our political ideas depend on the frames we move in and we change at the same time as they do (Lakoff, 2004). We have also taken advantage of the material gathered from seminars and focus groups organized by the research group, and carried out by specialist journalists, political scientists and leaders of some of these emerging political parties as a means of gathering ideas and drawing conclusions about the subject of this research.



3. Results

3.1. The case for Las Provincias - Valencia (Vocento)
The newspaper Las Provincias of Valencia provides a compilation of news on the internet that only partially covers the contents of the printed paper. In fact, a good part of these contents, and particularly those we could consider as being more varied and higher quality (reports, interviews, opinion articles) are almost restricted to the printed version, and in the majority of cases it is not possible to access them via the web. They are only offered by payment through Las Provincias, Kiosko y Más, which curiously publishes little on the web and, for example, we cannot find direct links to the majority of these articles which means they are completely invisible on the internet. These limitations would explain at least partially why the coverage these papers make of the election campaign appears to the reader as being only slight in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

Tables of party appearances per journalism genre:



Las Provincias

NEWS

INTERVIEWS

REPORTS

CHRONICLES

PROFILES

PP (118)

97

2

8

10

1

PSPV (50)

41

1

3

4

1

EUPV (35)

30

1

1

3

0

COMPROMIS (45)

35

1

4

4

1

CDS (47)

38

1

3

5

0

PODEMOS (37)

31

0

1

5

0

TOTAL_(332)__272__6__20__31'>TOTAL (332)

272

6

20

31

3

Table 1. Source: Own compilation

Información

NEWS

INTERVIEWS

REPORTS

CHRONICLES

PROFILES

PP

35,6%

33,3%

40,0%

32,5%

33,3%

PSPV

15%

16,6%

15%

12,9%

33,3%

EUPV

11%

16,6%

5%

9,6%

0,0%

COMPROMIS

12,8%

16,6%

20%

12,9%

33,3%

CDS

13,9%

16,6%

15%

16,1%

0,0%

PODEMOS

11,3%

0,0%

5%

16,1%

0,0%

Table 2. Source: Own compilation

As inferred from these data, the newspaper Las Provincias pays much more attention to information related to the Partido Popular, compared with the others. Obviously, it is possible that this is strictly related to the journalistic criteria of what is newsworthy (information related to the PP arouses more interest because they are in government and are still the most voted party). But we could also argue that there is a second ideological criterion, since the paper gives more information about the parties that in theory are more in tune with the ideological line of Las Provincias and the majority of its readership. This perhaps would be the reason for Las Provincias treatment of Ciudadanos, which is not always positive since it often reports on the disagreements and problems with candidates. This party is close to PSPV in number of articles and is situated ahead of the others. In contrast, it is clearly evident that Podemos is paid very little attention, although it is a party that should be better represented and to the same extent as Ciudadanos, if we were to follow the logic of journalistic interest for new parties.

Table of regional and national leaders’ appearances out of the total number of opinion texts analyzed:


Las Provincias

REGIONAL LEADER

NATIONAL LEADER

REGIONAL LEADER

NATIONAL LEADER

PP

70

10

35%

41,6%

PSPV

32

3

16%

12,5%

EUPV

19

1

9,5%

4,1%

COMPROMIS

29

0

14,5%

0,0%

CDS

20

18

10%

75%

PODEMOS

17

5

8,5%

20,8%

TOTAL

200

24







Table 3. Source: Own compilation

As seen in the analysis, the presence of these party leaders is relatively common in the opinion contents of the newspaper during election campaign. The majority of these contents appear in the special section dedicated to the elections and consist of news items focusing on the statements and actions of a political leader, often focusing on the candidates to the presidency of the Generalitat, or on the vote count itself in the case of 24th May (which is the day Las Provincias publishes far more news items and opinions). In the other cases, Las Provincias usually focuses on the figure of the PP candidate, Rita Barberá. Finally, once more Ciudadanos stands out in contrast to other political parties, due to the greater presence of its national leader (proportionally) compared to its candidate to the presidency of the Generalitat; this is probably due to the over exposure and hyper-leadership, also in media terms, of Albert Rivera compared to the local and regional candidates, who are mostly unknown to the public. This, in fact, occurs in similar circumstances (although on a lower scale) in Podemos, with greater presence of the national leader, Pablo Iglesias, compared to the regional leader, Antonio Montiel.



Table of valuations of regional leaders:

Las Provincias

FAVORABLE

NEUTRAL

UNFAVORABLE

FABRA (70)

22

24

24

PUIG (32)

8

10

14

BLANCO (19)

4

4

11

OLTRA (29)

11

9

10

PUNSET (20)

10

6

4

MONTIEL (17)

3

4

10

Table 4. Source: Own compilation

Las Provincias

FAVORABLE

NEUTRAL

UNFAVORABLE

FABRA

31,4%

34,2%

34,2%

PUIG

25%

31,2%

43,7%

BLANCO

21%

21%

57,8%

OLTRA

37,9%

31%

34,4%

PUNSET

50%

30%

20%

MONTIEL

17,6%

23,5%

58,8%

Table 5. Source: Own compilation

Table of valuations of national leaders:



Las Provincias

FAVORABLE

NEUTRAL

UNFAVORABLE

RAJOY (10)

2

4

4

SANCHEZ (3)

0

2

1

GARZON (1)

0

0

1

RIVERA (18)

10

5

3

IGLESIAS (5)

0

2

3

Table 6. Source: Own compilation

Las Provincias

FAVORABLE

NEUTRAL

UNFAVORABLE

RAJOY

20%

40%

40%

SANCHEZ

0,0%

66,6%

33,3%

GARZON

0,0%

0,0%

100%

RIVERA

55%

27,7%

16,6%

IGLESIAS

0,0%

40%

60%



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