Sixth EU Framework
Programme - Priority 7

AIM Project Overview - A to Z: Research aims

There is consensus about the central role of the mass media in creating a major part of the European daily reality that serves as a fundament for any understanding of citizens in Europe as "European citizens". The mass media not only inform the public about the EU, but also are an element of necessary public control of power. The functions of mass media, thus, are of importance to the quality of the polity within Europe. With this in mind, the AIM project approaches the analysis of the structures and mechanisms of reporting Europe.

The main goal of this research is to better understand the structural basis and implications of the daily news and information processes underlying the European political process at large. It is mainly an endeavour of reconstruction or deconstruction of existing mechanisms, decision making structures, and inherent professional perspectives within journalism and the institutions on which it relies in its daily work, be that sources, or transfer logistics, or the manifold editorial environments in different European countries. In this context the analytical concept of "news management" has entered the central stage of the project. News management, in this respect, is not to be understood in a traditional sense as a uni-directional PR and/or political campaign strategy. Within the AIM project the analytical model of news management is considered to be multi-directional, i.e. it comprises management and production processes by journalists as well as spokespersons who both act within an environment of set standards, mutual expectations and aligned work routines.

One of the main hypotheses of this project is that even the most complex current information processes rely on practical and therefore mostly simple mechanisms of reciprocal selection, reduction, and re-interpretation of information. One of the essential tracks of analysis of our overall project is thus to uncover the mechanism defining the nature of the process by which the citizens are informed about European politics. This perspective is new in the wider research field outlined above. It is a perspective that is very much down to earth, and tries to understand daily procedures and practices first and in detail, before engaging in general interpretation and theory building.

Researchers analysed:

the journalistic workflows and routines during the production of EU coverage,
different journalistic cultures in Europe and its influence on EU coverage,
communication and information policy of the EU institutions,
alternative information and communication platforms and journalistic education for EU journalism.

Following the empirical analysis the influence of EU coverage on the development of (a) European public sphere(s) was discussed from a theoretical point of view (see Theoretical Framework).