Competing actors and the construction of political news: The contest over waves in Israel

Gadi Wolfsfeld*, Tamir Sheafer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


The study is meant to provide a more actor-oriented approach to the construction of political news by looking at the competition over news exposure during political waves in Israel. Political waves are sudden and significant changes in the political environment that are characterized by a substantial increase in the amount of public attention centered on a political issue or event. A theoretical model is presented that attempts to explain who initiates political waves, which types of waves provide the most opportunities for the participation of different types of political actors, and which actors are in the best position to be included when different types of waves are covered in the news media. Four major hypotheses are developed that focus on both the nature of the wave and the individual characteristics of the political actors who are competing for exposure. Among the most important individual traits are charismatic communication skills, political standing, and the extent to which the individual can be thematically linked to the wave topic. The research employed two primary sets of data. The first set of data came from a content analysis of news articles that appeared in two major Israeli newspapers over one full year. Thirty-nine separate waves emerged from this analysis. The second set of data contains individual assessments of 91 legislators who were elected to 14th Knesset. All of the major hypotheses were confirmed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)333-354
Number of pages22
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2006


  • Charisma
  • News construction
  • Political contest model
  • Political news
  • Political waves


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