Power Brokers: Political Consultancies and Journalism
Goal and approach
The goal of this project is to map the relations between political consultancies and strategists, on the one hand, and news media and journalism, on the other. To achieve that, we suggest conducting research on a country-by-country basis.
In recent years, political strategists and consultancies have massively changed the way they operate, particularly as a result of new technologies that allow them to deploy more powerful tools to reach the electorate than they had at their disposal before. The work of these players usually remains hidden from the public eye mainly because they are not keen to share the methods they use to promote political parties and candidates, or simply because they do not want to expose some of their practices, arguably unethical, used to target the electorate. In some of these cases, as the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal showed, the work done by political consultants is simply illicit, a sufficient reason for these players to try to keep a lid on their business.
While a series of investigations and research about political strategists and consultancies has appeared in recent years, a methodical mapping of these organizations and individuals on a country-by-country basis hasn't been carried out yet, which is what this project plans to achieve.
Rationale and focus
In line with CMDS' strategy which is built around researching the key forces that affect independent journalism, the focus of this project is on explaining the power dynamics between political consultants and news media, with a particular focus on ownership links, financial transactions or other forms of influence.
It is not the goal of this project to analyze the impact of these groups and individuals on the local political culture, the electoral achievements of one political party or another, or the fairness of various elections. Instead, what we want to achieve through this project is to shed light on the main political consultancy operations and their impact on the independence of the news media.
Iheb Klai is a senior student at the McDaniel College Budapest where he is majoring on Political Science and International Relations with a focus on journalism. Peacekeeping, conflict resolution, migration and security are also part of his educational path. He has worked with several organizations through volunteering and student-related jobs, such as AIESEC, Save The Children and UNHCR, and gained experience in journalism while writing and reporting through university workshops and associations. Iheb is fluent in three different languages: French, Arabic and English.
Aiste Vaitkeviciute is currently pursuing the MUNDUS MAPP degree in European Public Policy at Central European University. Her interests include European governance, policy-making, and human rights. She holds a BA in Government and Global Studies from Colby College in the United States. Prior to coming to CEU, she was involved in human rights and anti-corruption work and activism in Lithuania.