Contemporary events since 2008 have revealed that we are not only facing enormous democratic challenges on an ecological level, but also on an economic, political and social level. The financial-economic crisis and its numerous global and local ramifications, political events such as the political crisis in Belgium and the Arab Spring, rising levels of unemployment and poverty, the emergence of new social movements protesting austerity policies, etc., all raise the question to what extent media fulfill a role of encouraging a broad democratic debate, by reporting on the alternative analyses and policy programs at stake on each of these issues. However, as is the case with the research line on 'media and science', the question is again whether existing models of media and democracy sufficiently allow to address this, and consequently, enable a well-founded, substantive critique on the role and performance of media in 21st century liberal democratic societies, which could lead to recommendations on how to improve media reporting from a perspective of democratic politics.
The previously developed framework promises great potential to reveal the extent of agonistic media pluralism in 21st century professionalized-commercial media landscapes on the one hand, while simultaneously identifying potential alternative spaces for agonistic media pluralism and democratic debate on the other, either outside or within commercial media systems, such as in the case of alternative media or particular entertainment media, respectively.
The aim of this second mandate is to expand this research line on media and democracy, (i) by broadening it to other countries to allow conclusions on the extent of media pluralism within and between media systems, (ii) by deepening it through involving longitudinal, historical analyses on the one hand, and a systematic inclusion of new, alternative media as well as entertainment media, and (iii), by reinforcing the policy-supporting dimension of this work, focusing on the implications for a) journalistic routines, practices and values, and b) science communication organizations.