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Exploring the Role of News Media in Complex Systems of Governance

First published as a special issue of Policy & Politics, this updated volume explores the intersections between governance and media in western democracies, which have undergone profound recent changes. Many governmental powers have been shifted toward a host of network parties such as NGOs, state enterprises, international organizations, autonomous agencies, and local governments. Governments have developed complex networks for service delivery and they have a strategic interest in the news media as an arena where their interests can be served and threatened.

How do the media relate to and report on complex systems of government? How do the various governance actors respond to the media and what are the effects on their policies? This book considers the impact of media-related factors on governance, policy, public accountability and the attribution of blame for failures.

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Public agencies are the objects of a large share of the daily news and devote substantial resources to media management and monitoring. This paper analyses how public agencies have adapted their internal structures and processes in order to meet the demands from their media environment. To this end, an analytical framework for the analysis of organisational mediatisation – the adaptation of internal structures and processes to external media demands – is developed. This is the first framework available for empirical analyses of organisational mediatisation. Its use is then demonstrated in a comparative analysis of the mediatisation of public agencies in Australia and the Netherlands; countries with contrasting political and media systems. An explorative, multimethods study describes how Australian agencies go to greater lengths in accommodating their media environment – they fight the media beast – whereas Dutch agencies are more hesitant; they are fumbling with the beast.

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Public agencies are the objects of a large share of the daily news and devote substantial resources to media management and monitoring. This paper analyses how public agencies have adapted their internal structures and processes in order to meet the demands from their media environment. To this end, an analytical framework for the analysis of organisational mediatisation – the adaptation of internal structures and processes to external media demands – is developed. This is the first framework available for empirical analyses of organisational mediatisation. Its use is then demonstrated in a comparative analysis of the mediatisation of public agencies in Australia and the Netherlands; countries with contrasting political and media systems. An explorative, multimethod study describes how Australian agencies go to greater lengths in accommodating their media environment – they fight the media beast – whereas Dutch agencies are more hesitant; they are fumbling with the beast.

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The role of the media in public accountability has often been discussed. This is especially the case for public sector organisations, whose accountability relations have changed in the shift from government to governance. In this paper, we develop a typology of the ways mass media are involved in public accountability processes. Media can stimulate actors to reflect on their behaviour, trigger formal accountability by reporting on the behaviour of actors, amplify formal accountability as they report on it or act as an independent and informal accountability forum. To explore the presence of these roles in practice, we focus on public sector organisations in the Netherlands. Our quantitative and qualitative analysis in the Netherlands suggests that the media primarily serve an indirect role in public accountability, either by invoking pre-emptive self-criticism in public organisations in anticipation of potential media scrutiny or by triggering formal accountability demands from MPs

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For many public organisations, boards are the primary accountability mechanisms for management. Boards have a multipronged portfolio: strategic advice, employment, external linkage and critical scrutiny. The literature casts serious doubts about their capabilities. There is ‘managerial dominance’. This article reviews existing studies on public sector boards and identifies important reasons why boards are likely to fail as accountability mechanisms. This sets the stage for a new research agenda. When are boards more effective on the micro-level? How to organise effective checks and balances around organisations? And why has the board-model become so popular: is this learning or blame-shifting?

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The role of the media in public accountability has often been discussed. This is especially the case for public sector organisations, whose accountability relations have changed in the shift from government to governance. In this paper, we develop a typology of the ways mass media are involved in public accountability processes. Media can stimulate actors to reflect on their behaviour, trigger formal accountability by reporting on the behaviour of actors, amplify formal accountability as they report on it or act as an independent and informal accountability forum. To explore the presence of these roles in practice, we focus on public sector organisations in the Netherlands. Our quantitative and qualitative analysis in the Netherlands suggests that the media primarily serve an indirect role in public accountability, either by invoking pre-emptive self-criticism in public organisations in anticipation of potential media scrutiny or by triggering formal accountability demands from MPs

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First published as a special issue of Policy & Politics, this updated volume explores the intersections between governance and media in western democracies, which have undergone profound recent changes. Many governmental powers have been shifted toward a host of network parties such as NGOs, state enterprises, international organizations, autonomous agencies, and local governments. Governments have developed complex networks for service delivery and they have a strategic interest in the news media as an arena where their interests can be served and threatened. How do the media relate to and report on complex systems of government? How do the various governance actors respond to the media and what are the effects on their policies? This book considers the impact of media-related factors on governance, policy, public accountability and the attribution of blame for failures.

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Pressure from the media affects the daily work of bureaucrats and induces ‘media stress’, with potentially critical effects on the quality of public policy. This article analyses how bureaucrats’ daily work has been adapted to the media (‘mediatised’) and which groups of bureaucrats experience the most media-stress. Reporting the results of an original and large-scale survey (N=4,655) this article demonstrates that levels of media-stress vary among different groups of civil servants. In turn, its analysis suggests that media-stress is more pronounced in the Netherlands than in Norway, is more concentrated in the lower rungs of administrative hierarchies and is related to media pressures on organisations. By untangling the underlying logic of mediatisation and the dynamics of media-stress, this article makes an important contribution to extant scholarship and also provides a series of practical recommendations.

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