Media Ownership and Public Service News: How Strong Are Institutional Logics?

Rodney Benson, Timothy Neff, Mattias Hessérus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyzes the extent to which diverse institutional logics (stock market, privately held, civil society, public) are linked to the exercise of one important mode of media ownership power: public service orientation. The research draws on a content analysis of a total of fifty-one news organizations in Sweden, France, and the United States, representing, respectively, Hallin and Mancini’s democratic corporatist, polarized pluralist, and liberal models. We find that two types of institutional logics—affordance and homogenization—shape the amount and type of public-service-oriented news. On average, public-service-oriented news was highest at civil-society-owned media, but there was significant variation within this category: We call this kind of institutional logic an affordance logic because it affords but does not guarantee a certain kind of news content. Public media, on the other hand, exhibited the least deviation across outlets within each country, thus exemplifying a strong homogenization logic. All forms of ownership, but especially privately held and civil society media, exhibited significant variations across individual organizations. Economic field dominance, as in the United States, did not produce greater homogenization across ownership fields as predicted by field theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-298
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • France
  • Sweden
  • civil society media
  • comparative research
  • content analysis
  • investigative reporting
  • journalism
  • media ownership
  • privately held news companies
  • public media
  • public service orientation
  • stock market traded news companies
  • the United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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