This research project explores political executive–media relations, mainly interactions between prime ministers (and their communication aides) and journalists – in Finland, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. More specifically, the project addresses three scholarly and related themes: (1) the ‘presidentialization’ of politics; (2) the ‘personalization’ of politics; and (3) the ‘mediatization’ of politics. It also addresses themes within journalism studies such as journalism in different media systems and the relation between journalists and sources. The project goes beyond existing research in two central respects. First, it integrates the themes of ‘presidentialization’, ‘personalization’ and ‘mediatization’ of politics. Second, the project includes and assesses the full spectrum of political executive–media relations – personal as well as impersonal relations.

Our starting assumption is that the relations are mutually reinforcing and symbiotic rather than adversarial, but this is an open and empirical question explored in the project. We rely on complementary forms of primary material in our case studies. Interviews is our main research technique. The project adopts a comparative research design, with empirical research in a cross-national context. There is variation in our set of selected countries both regarding media system and political system. All the participating researchers work with the same research problem in a comparative research design, and in a concerted effort to exploit the synergies between the academic disciplines of political science and journalism/media studies. The project is inter-disciplinary by linking these academic disciplines, on the basis of our shared concern with political communication.