Parties, ideology, and news media in Central-Eastern and Western Europe: A comparison of media bias twenty years after the fall of the Iron curtain

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Laia Castro-Herrero - , University of Fribourg, National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) "Democracy – Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century" (Author)
  • David Nicolas Hopmann - , University of Southern Denmark (Author)
  • Sven Engesser - , University of Zurich (Author)


This study assesses the degree and direction of media bias towards political parties in Central-Eastern and Western European democracies. Previous research has argued that despite policy efforts to detach the media from the political domain, journalism in former Eastern Bloc countries is still characterized by a more partisan style than in Western Europe. Our analysis employs data from the European Parliament Election Study 2009 (EES) and the European Media Systems Survey 2010 (EMSS), covering 187 parties and more than 120 media outlets in fifteen Western and ten Central and Eastern media systems across the European Union. To analyze partisan media bias, we look at (1) how well audience patterns correlate with partisan preferences of media users and (2) the extent to which media outlets favour specific parties according to experts. Contrary to our hypotheses, the results show that levels of media bias in Central and Eastern Europe are similar to those in Western Europe. We also find that left-right party ideology predicts media bias in the latter, but not in the former. Our findings question the general assumption that partisan media bias is higher in "the East" and challenge the widespread belief that a long tradition of media commercialization, as found in "the West," leads to less political media bias.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-593
Number of pages23
JournalEast European Politics and Societies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Central and Eastern Europe, Comparative research, Partisan media bias, Political communication, Survey