1st Edition

Authoritarian Populism and the Challenges for News Journalism A Discourse Approach

By Mats Ekström, Marianna Patrona Copyright 2025
    176 Pages
    by Routledge

    Authoritarian Populism and the Challenges for News Journalism: A Discourse Approach is a cutting-edge study of the practices of news journalism against the background of surging authoritarian populism.

    This book traces key challenges for news journalism when reporting on authoritarian populism, or on topics (such as immigration and terrorism) that are typically leveraged by far-right actors and platforms as a way of attracting media attention and boosting their popularity with national electorates. It also offers in-depth analyses of how these challenges are responded to by news journalists in the actual, day-to-day practices of news production, as evidenced in the discourse of news. By placing qualitative, critical analysis of discourse at the heart of the systematic inquiry into authoritarian populism in the news media, this book applies a broad methodological framework for studying a) political performances and their mediated representations, b) the complex, and, often contradictory, normalizing processes at work in the news media, and c) the attendant challenges and critical tasks for contemporary news journalism. Based on detailed analyses of political and news discourse in various European contexts, and in the US, spanning a decade (2014–2024), this book makes a timely and relevant contribution — as liberal democracies could be facing a new turning point in the global rise of authoritarian populism.

    This book will be of interest to students and scholars of journalism, media studies, political communication, political science, sociology and discourse studies who are interested in authoritarian and right-wing populism, related discourses of nationalism and xenophobia, populist communication and the role of news media and journalism.


    Chapter 1: News discourse as the object of study

    Part 1: The far-right delegitimization of mainstream journalism

    Chapter 2: The disruption of journalistic authority and institutionalized relationships in political interviews

    Chapter 3: The discourse of alternative news: Between factual reporting and political propaganda

    Part 2: The performances and propagation of far-right populism in the news

    Chapter 4: The styles of populist political performances

    Chapter 5: Reporting the unsayable: authoritarian provocations and their recontextualization in the news

    Part 3: Normalization of far-right discourses in the news media

    Chapter 6: Media populism and the construction of ‘the people’ in political news interviews

    Chapter 7: The normalization of far-right politics in routine news events and political interviews

    Chapter 8: The politics of fear in political performance and news coverage


    Chapter 9: Inside the vortex of authoritarian populism: News discourse and the challenges for journalism



    Mats Ekström is Professor in the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Marianna Patrona is Associate Professor in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Hellenic Army Academy, Greece.

    “This book is necessary reading for anyone concerned with authoritarian populism. Through a meticulous analysis of everyday news discourse, Ekström and Patrona demonstrate how conventional journalistic practice often inadvertently reinforces and legitimates antidemocratic perspectives. To break away from abetting the far right, a convincing case is made for journalists to reposition their core principles around a clear allegiance to fostering an inclusive democracy.”

    Matt Carlson, Professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, United States.

    "This wide-ranging, rigorous and systematic study adds an important dimension to our understanding of authoritarian populism and the ways in which it is shaped, promoted and resisted in broadcast and social media. Through close analysis it casts light on how right-wing populism is mediated in the talk of journalists and politicians and in the exchanges between them. Challenging and insightful, it will prove an invaluable resource for all those concerned about the state of public discourse in contemporary society. "

    Martin Montgomery, Emeritus Professor of Literary Linguistics, University of Macau, China.