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The logic of the media and the public arena


Admission requirements

Students MPS who choose Public Affairs


This course focuses on the effects of the media on public affairs from both public and private organisations. We first look at the characteristics and functioning of the modern media, both the “old” media such as newspapers and the social media. The media have become increasingly important to the public affairs of organisations and have had compelling or even confrontational effects on them. The media pay attention to one topic and ignore other issues. One issue may cause a cascade of attention and triggers an enormous hype, the other is confined to a small circle of expert players. How does an issue jumps from one medium to another? How do organizations, politicians and citizens respond to media attention?

This course uses partly communication theory: how do media, lobbyists, and politicians prioritize messages in the massive information flows that is daily produced? What mechanisms drive this prioritization and how we can look for trends in a more systematic way to visualize and analyse them? How do interest organizations deal or use media attention?

In public affairs, organisations have a wide range of different strategies that they can apply. Interest organizations or grassroots movements can search as many media attention to increase pressure, hence, they can execute an explicit outside lobby strategy. In other situations they want to avoid such attention precisely because they want to minimize publicity to their interests. Some organisations have a comprehensive media strategy, others remain passive. This course thus provides an overview of how the media works, how media messages emerge and gives insight into how interests become subject of attention and how organization want to boost the focus on issues that matter to them.

Course objectives

At the end of this course students are able to:

  • Understand the basics of modern media, both the old and new media

  • Analyze rising media attention to policy issues, framing, and the mechanisms that are at work

  • Apply priming and framing to case studies in which interest organisations are seeking media attention or are being attack by the media

  • Describe the media strategies that public and private organisations can use to mange their reputation

  • Compare the effects between outside lobby strategies when organisations in the public arena openly seek media attention and inside lobby strategies when they avoid attention


On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

2 Lectures and 7 seminars

Course Load

Total time: 140 hours:

Lectures 4 hours
Seminars 21 hours
Group-assignment 30 hours

Self study (85 total):
Preparing lectures 8 hours
Preparing seminars: 42 hours
The individual assignment 35 hours

Assessment method

Individual assignment: 75% (must be 5.5 or higher to pass the course)
Group assignment 25%

NB: If a student scores higher on his individual assignment compared to the average of his group assignment, then the group assignment will be disregarded.

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have a mark lower than 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam
Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.


Blackboard will be available one week before the start of the course

Reading list

The e-reader will be made available through blackboard


To be announced by OSC staff. ### Contact

Gerard Breeman### Remarks