Symbiotic leader-media relations?

Exploring interaction between prime ministers and the media in Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden


The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies

Project type


This research project explores political executive–media relations, mainly interactions between prime ministers (and their communication aides) and journalists – in Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. More specifically, the project addresses three scholarly and related themes:

  1. the ‘presidentialization’ of politics;
  2. the ‘personalization’ of politics;
  3. the ‘mediatization’ of politics.

It also addresses themes within journalism studies such as journalism in different media systems and the relation between journalists and sources.

The project goes beyond existing research in two central respects. First, it integrates the themes of ‘presidentialization’, ‘personalization’ and ‘mediatization’ of politics. Second, the project includes and assesses the full spectrum of political executive–media relations – personal as well as impersonal relations. Our starting assumption is that the relations are mutually reinforcing and symbiotic rather than adversarial, but this is an open and empirical question explored in the project. We rely on complementary forms of primary material in our case studies. Interviews is our main research technique.

The project adopts a comparative research design, with empirical research in a cross-national context. There is variation in our set of selected countries both regarding media system and political system. All the participating researchers work with the same research problem in a comparative research design, and in a concerted effort to exploit the synergies between the academic disciplines of political science and journalism/media studies. The project is inter-disciplinary by linking these academic disciplines, on the basis of our shared concern with political communication.

We are ten researchers from the universities of Södertörn, Wrocław, Tampere, Kaunas and Helsinki.

Auksė Balčytienė is a Professor of Journalism at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas. Her scholarly interests lie in media and modernization theories, media’s responses to democratization, comparative journalism and communication cultures, political communication and the European public sphere.

Bogusława Dobek-Ostrowska is a Professor and Chair at the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of Wrocław. Her research interests focus on political communication, comparative media systems, transformation of media systems in Central and Eastern Europe, and journalism studies.

Elena Johansson is a Lecturer in Media and Communication Studies at Örebro University. She was a Researcher at the School of Social Sciences at Södertörn University until 2017. Her research focuses on political communication, professional journalistic cultures and social media.

Karl Magnus Johansson, Lead Coordinator, is a Professor of Political Science at the School of Social Sciences at Södertörn University. His research interests include political institutions, executive leadership and communication.

Milda Malling is a PhD candidate at the School of Social Sciences at Södertörn University. Her PhD thesis project deals with political communication culture, mainly informal relations between journalists and their political sources.

Tom Moring is an Emeritus Professor of Communication and Journalism at the Swedish School of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. His research interests include political communication, media and election campaigns.

Risto Niemikari is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Management at Tampere University. His doctoral thesis is devoted to the relations between politicians and the media in Finland. His research interests also include political philosophy, rhetoric and argumentation.

Jacek Nożewski holds a PhD from the Department of Social Communication and Journalism at the University of Wrocław. He co-founded the Projekt Akademia Association aimed at popularizing social sciences. His scholarly interests include political communication through social media, agenda setting and citizens' news activity.

Gunnar Nygren is a Professor of Journalism at the School of Social Sciences at Södertörn University. His primary research interests are local journalism, professional roles of journalists and changing journalistic practices.

Tapio Raunio is a Professor of Political Science at Tampere University. His research interests include legislatures and political parties, the Europeanization of domestic politics, semi-presidentialism, and the Finnish political system.

Gunnar Nygren, Södertörn University.

Karl Magnus Johansson, Södertörn University

Milda Malling, Södertörn University

Auksė Balčytienė, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas

Bogusława Dobek-Ostrowska, University of Wrocław.

Elena Johansson, Örebro University

Jacek Nożewski, University of Wrocław

Risto Niemikari, Tampere University

Tapio Raunio, Tampere University

Tom Moring, University of Helsinki

Research area / geographic area

Social Sciences Journalism Political Science Politics, Economy and the Organisation of Society Social sciences Europe

Project time

2014 — 2021

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