Studying the Tango: An analysis of parliamentary questions and press coverage in the Netherlands

Peter Van Aelst*, Rens Vliegenthart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between politicians and journalists is often portrayed as an intimate dance, characterized by intFerdependence. The political agenda-setting approach has been used successfully to improve our knowledge of certain aspects of this power relationship. This study builds on this line of research, but in more depth by conducting a detailed and reciprocal analysis of the relationship between press coverage and parliamentary questions in the Netherlands (1995-2010). Our macro-level approach shows that the effect of media on written questions is stronger than the reverse. A more detailed micro-analysis of media coverage preceding and following oral questions does indicate that most of the questions can be traced back to coverage in the days before, but that they receive less media attention afterwards. This might initially indicate that the media are leading the dance with parliamentarians, at least when it comes to questioning behaviour. In many instances, however, media are not creating the news that MPs rely on, but rather are transmitters of information that originates from other political and non-political sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-410
Number of pages19
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • parliamentary questions
  • political agenda-setting
  • press coverage
  • The Netherlands


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