Many cities around the world struggle with a negative image as a living environment. Brussels is such an example. This negative image of the city is believed to restrain people to move to Brussels, as well as to cause urban exile, particularly among middle class people who contribute to maintaining the social and economic resilience of the city. It is believed that the media play an important role in creating and maintaining this unfavourable image. What then, is the image media convey of the city? How does this image actually resonate in people’s minds? This report addresses both issues by analysing 800 newspaper articles that contain information on Brussels as a living environment. This content analysis is based on codes that are drawn from an analysis of people’s perceptions of Brussels as a living environment. This approach makes it possible to draw conclusions on how media narratives about Brussels as a living environment resonate with people’s perceptions, possibly influencing their housing choices. It is concluded that the interaction of the public with the press is strongly polarised, contributing to an image that is either positive or, more frequently, negative. Physical and cultural proximity to the city, however, play an important mediating role, contributing to more nuanced and constructive images about Brussels, both in media narratives and public perceptions.
Download: News narratives on Brussels city life. A content and cognitive resonance analysis.