The Spanish press’s loss of confidence, in a context of political corruption: the ‘Bárcenas scandal’ in El País and El Mundo

Cristina Zurutuza-Muñoz, José Juan Verón-Lassa

Abstract

This research takes as starting points the ideas that communication becomes a key tool either to worsen or to mitigate any crisis, and that when a public crisis has not been properly closed it takes hold in a series of acute stages. A good example of this situation is the communications crisis suffered by the Spanish Popular Party (PP) in the wake of the ‘Bárcenas scandal’, a case of political corruption inside the PP involving its former treasurer. This matter becomes the object of analysis in this research, as it represents a scene common to most of the political parties in Spain during recent years.

The aim of this research is to shed light on both the PP’s communicative response to this corruption crisis during its two acute stages (both in 2013) and the media coverage of this political scandal. To achieve this objective the communicative actions of the PP during the two stages are analyzed with a qualitative content analysis. All the pieces of news published by El País and El Mundo regarding the ‘Bárcenas scandal’ are analyzed with a quantitative content methodology. The results show that political corruption scandals lead to the press losing its confidence in political parties, and that crises that are not properly solved result in become entrenched.

Keywords

crisis; Bárcenas scandal; political corruption; social trust; news

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