In the run-up to the elections to the House of Representatives, various groups compete for the attention of the media. The Covid crisis is the talk of the town and dominates the reporting and political debate. However, there are more problems, such as the teacher shortage, the housing shortage and the “stikstof” (nitrogen) crisis. In the coming period I will investigate how interest groups try to get the nitrogen problem and their position back on the political agenda through the media, and what the most successful strategy is.

During my master I do an internship at Publistat and I conduct my graduation research into successful agenda setting. The research focuses on the use of media-related outside lobbying tactics, this lobbying takes place in broad daylight. This includes, for example, interviews, articles, press releases and letters to the editor. I focus on the nitrogen crisis and analyze interest groups within the construction industry, farmers and environmental organisations.

Little attention to interest groups

An initial exploratory study shows that since 1 November 2020 there has been relatively little attention in the newspapers for the nitrogen crisis. Where the term “coronacrisis” alone appears in 5754 articles and the “toeslagenaffaire” is mentioned 1235 times, the number of mentions about nitrogen remains at 612. Although the nitrogen crisis receives less attention than other topics, it is still mentioned in two articles a day on average. However, the interest groups receive little attention; a mention in only 15% of the items.

Farmers most visible

I have investigated how much publicity has given to an interest group in combination with nitrogen, both passive and active, since 1 November 2020. In the active category, a group is quoted or interviewed. Agricultural organization LTO is leading the way, which is partly explained by the appointment of a new chairman at the beginning of November. Farmers Defense Force has attracted a lot of attention since November and is often passively in the news. Of all the newspapers, The Telegraaf gives the most attention to the interest groups, especially to Johan Vollenbroek and the LTO.

Do the interest groups reach the politicians?

In the upcoming weeks I will further investigate the outside lobbying tactics of the interest groups and whether they are succeeding in putting the nitrogen problem on the map. Therefor I’ll check whether the political parties mention the subject and positions during the election debates and on their Twitter accounts. I look forward to The Great Climate Debate!