The daddy quota in the Norwegian parental leave arrangement has been the subject of heated public debate. The responses from political actors to a proposal to divide parental leave into three parts, suggested by a government expert committee in 2008, are examined in this article. Inspired by recent contributions from institutional theory conceptualising ideational dimensions of policy processes, the questions addressed are: Which ideas were taken for granted – inherent in the background of the debate? Which ideas were brought to the fore? Were they normative or cognitive? Were they influenced by certain political paradigms?
The study analyzes how a selection of Norwegian newspapers represented the swine flu in two critical phases in 2009. The analysis suggests how the news coverage was one-dimensional. Little space was provided for critical perspectives. With some exceptions in the subscription-based Stavanger Aftenblad and Aftenposten, the newspapers barely included lay perspectives. Information from health authorities was amplified in a crisis discourse, a key function seemingly being to scare people into precautionary action. A rhetoric of fear was most pronounced in the tabloids Dagbladet and VG, whereas Aftenposten’s coverage could appear as a confusing mixture of alarming and comforting messages. However, the analysis indicates how Stavanger Aftenblad in a different way than the other papers could represent lay persons as responsible citizens. To a greater extent, Stavanger Aftenblad’s coverage lived up to dialogical ideals of risk communication and journalism.
According to a recent survey, political journalists in Norway think that their most important task in their coverage of politics, is to inform the public. However, the analysis in this article shows that political journalism during an election is more about entertaining the public. Media coverage during an election is concerned more with style of presentation than with content, i.e. the political issues. This tendency is more obvious in TV than in the newspapers. Political news broadcasts on TV are much more oriented towards framing politics as a strategic game; there are fewer news stories on political issues and there is a much greater tendency to personalize news stories about politics. Even the political experts on TV, who are there to explain political issues, do not give much issue-oriented information about politics during an election campaign. Interviews with political journalists confirm that they use much energy trying to make political issues and news entertaining for the audience.