Striking a Responsive Chord:
Mass Media and Right-Wing
Populism in Austria
Fritz Plasser and Peter A. Ulram
Since the 1980s, three developments have thrown shadows over the social and political debate in Western Europe: first, the consolidation of xenophobic resentments and prejudices into a "New Xenophobia" (Baumgartl and Favell 1995; Jaschke 1994); second, the electoral success of radical right-wing populist parties that activate and mobilize latent xenophobic sentiments (Betz 1994; Betz and Immerfall 1998; Falter 1996; Hainsworth 1992; Kitschelt 1995); and third, a populist newsroom logic displayed by various mass media, a logic that contributes to a strengthening of negative prejudices, widespread fears, and emotional reactions against immigrants and ethnic minorities (Brosius and Esser 1995; 1996). The observation that newsroom populism obviously promotes the mobilizing strategies of populist parties (Plasser, Sommer, and Scheucher 1996) does not imply the existence of a voluntary cooperation between right-wing populists and market-driven journalism. Using the analogy from the market place, one can rather state that the former are aiming at an increased share of votes on the electoral market, the latter at an increased audience share or daily reach.
Our contribution focuses upon these complex relations between newsroom populism and market-driven journalism, on the one hand, and the populist issues management of the radical right-wing, populist Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), on the other. In the first section we outline the contextual framework of the FPÖ's rise from a small party to a serious challenger to the two traditional parties, the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). In the second section we relate the news values and populist newsroom logic of two leading daily newspapers (Kronen Zeitung and Täglich Alles with a combined