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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 19, 2019

The democratic quality of political depictions in fictional TV entertainment. A comparative content analysis of the political drama Borgen and the journalistic magazine Berlin direkt

  • Cordula Nitsch EMAIL logo , Olaf Jandura and Peter Bienhaus
From the journal Communications


The quality of political reporting in the news media is a focal point of communication research. Politics, however, is not only conveyed via traditional sources of information, but via fictional sources. In particular, political dramas (e. g., The West Wing, Borgen) enjoy great popularity and are often acknowledged for their realistic depiction of politics. Still, little is known about the democratic quality of such fictional depictions. This paper aims to fill the gap by contrasting the depiction of politics in the fictional TV series Borgen with political reporting in a traditional TV magazine (Berlin direkt). The comparative content analysis is based on ten issues that are covered in both formats and focuses on the quality criteria of relevance, pluralism, and democratic discourse norms. Findings show no significant differences between Borgen and Berlin direkt for any of the three criteria, clearly indicating that fictional TV series can offer the same content quality as political reporting.


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Published Online: 2019-11-19
Published in Print: 2021-03-08

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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