Volume 3, No. 1
Spring / Summer 2013
Special issue: Russian and German Perspectives on Transcultural Communication
Margreth Lünenborg: Editorial
Akademische Artikel / Peer Reviewed Articles
A New Definition of Journalism Functions in the Framework of Hybrid Media Systems: German and Russian Academic Perspectives (article in English)
Foreign Policy Involvement Matters: Towards an Analytical Framework Examining the Role of the Media in the Making of Foreign Policy (article in English)
Svetlana S. Bodrunova
Fragmentation and Polarization of the Public Sphere in the 2000s: Evidence from Italy and Russia (article in English)
Annett Heft & Sünje Paasch‐Colberg
Media Cultures of Young Turkish Migrants and German Resettlers in Germany (article in English)
Measuring Strategy by Tracing Political Media Relations Tactics – A Conceptualization (article in English)
„We are Anonymous.“ Anonymity in the Public Sphere – Challenges of Free and Open Communication (article in English)
How Neoliberal Imperialism is Expressed by Programming Strategies of Phoenix TV: A Critical Case Study (article in English)
Medienpraxis & Forschungsberichte/ From the Field
The State of Environmental Journalism in Germany and Russia (article in English)
Buchrezensionen / Book Reviews
Dupuis, Indira: Transnationalisierung der Öffentlichkeit in Mittelosteuropa: Eine Befragung von Journalisten zur EU-Berichterstattung (2012) (review in German)
Cottle, Simon/ Lester, Libby (eds.): Transnational Protests and the Media (2011) (review in German)
This special issue assembles articles of young scholars from Berlin and St. Petersburg that offer new transcultural perspectives on a fundamentally changing research field. The collection offers Russian and German points of view based on the national and academic roots of the different authors. This scholarly exchange is a first result of the developing institutional cooperation between the media and communication departments of Free University Berlin and St. Petersburg State University. As part of the German-Russian “Year of Education, Science and Innovation” a conference on “Transcultural Media Research in the Context of Digital Communication and Social Change” took place in St. Petersburg in 2012. The conference brought together more than 30 scholars discussing theoretical and empirical challenges for comparative media research along with the theoretical requirements for an adequate modeling of media and communication at a time when professional and structural boundaries are dissolving.
The selected papers published in this issue in various ways go beyond the mainstream of German-Russian media research of the last decades.
The communication patterns of our society have undergone crucial changes due to the development of the digital public sphere and the formation of ‘hybrid media systems’ (Chadwick 2011). This transformation challenges professional journalism in its role as the fourth estate. It is obviously essential to re-think the role and functions of mass media in the modern ‘network society’ (Castells, 2010). Some experts even talk about the end of the “century of journalism” (Weischenberg, 2010), and others argue that it is just the end of the 20th century’s news-journalism and the beginning of the new kind of professional journalism that will still be able to fulfill its core functions of building the public sphere, in accordance with the conditions of the transformed society (Pöttker, 2012). For conventional mass media that means a major switch from ‘news’-journalism to ‘orientation’ journalism (Bruns, 2005). This transformation has been intensified in Russia by the protest movement that fueled a discussion among journalists about new standards of journalism: should they just be observers or are they allowed and even supposed be activists of social movements? This paper examines what this paradigmatic shift means to the profession and to the self-identification of journalists as it is being viewed in Russia and in Germany. The author presents arguments of journalism scholars and journalists from both countries and argues that this development brings along a number of serious challenges for the society, connected with an enormous rise of opinion writing that leads journalists back to the era of pre-professional and pre-commercial journalism. In order to preserve journalism as a profession with socially important functions, a revision of the concept and of the standards of journalism is needed, both in Germany and in Russia.
Foreign policy processes have long played a minor role in the study of political communication. There is a broad consensus that the media is the central mediating actor and primary conduit between political decision-makers and the public. However, the media’s influence on foreign policy remains contingent across various processes and phases of foreign policy making; it is dynamic and multi-directional. Considering that the public sphere is essential for the legitimacy of foreign policy making, there is a demand for further research on the media’s performance in the making of foreign policy. Based on secondary research, this paper proposes an analytical framework for the systematic analysis of media–foreign policy relations by integrating foreign-policy context conditions as a research variable. The framework is based on the assumption that the role of the media varies across diverse foreign policy contexts depending on the intensity of governmental involvement in foreign policy issues. The intensity is distinguished according to three dimensions: no involvement, indirect involvement and direct involvement. Finally, a case study is suggested in order to demonstrate the framework’s explanatory power: the German media coverage of Russia.
After the Arab spring, direct linkage between growth of technological hybridization of media systems and political online-to-offline protest spill-overs seemed evident, at least in several aspects, as ‘twitter revolutions’ showed organizational potential of the mediated communication of today. But in de-facto politically transitional countries hybridization of media systems is capable of performing not just organizational but also ‘cultivational’ roles in terms of creating communicative milieus where protest consensus is formed, provoking spill-overs from expressing political opinions online to street protest.The two cases of Italy and Russia are discussed in terms of their non-finished process of transition to democracy and the media’s role within the recent political process. In the two cases, media-political conditions have called into being major cleavages in national deliberative space that may be conceptualized like formation of nation-wide public counter-spheres based upon alternative agenda and new means of communication. The structure and features of these counter-spheres are reconstructed; to check whether regional specifics are involved into the formation of this growing social gap, quantitative analysis of regional online news media (website menus) is conducted. Several indicators for spotting the formation of counter-spheres and criteria for further estimation of democratic quality of such counter-spheres are suggested.
This article contributes to the understanding of young people’s media cultures by addressing the question whether and to what extent young people with different cultural backgrounds differ in their exposure to and usage of traditional mass media and new digital media as well as in their engagement in various online activities. It presents empirical data of a German survey about the social environment, media use and Internet behaviour among 605 German resettlers and people with a Turkish migration background aged between 12 and 29 years living in North Rhine-Westphalia and compares the results of the 12- to 19-year old youth with data of the same age group within the German general population. To further assess how cultural and social factors might explain the variation within the youth and young adults with migration background, similarities and differences in their media use patterns are traced with respect to their cultural contexts as well as the factors education, age and gender. The findings are discussed in the context of societal integration of young people with migration background, the homogeneity of mediatised youth cultures and the thesis of the digital divide.
Conceptualizing the strategic interplay of communication experts with political journalists is like being in the middle of so far conflicting approaches. The mostly economic science based literature on strategic communication management often implies a prescriptive and rational approach of decision making and behavior. From a social sciences perspective, however, the empirical transfer of mere economic rational choice models has been reasonably challenged. Although many rational choice theorists accept actor rationality to be limited rather than total and the metaphor of a “game” between the two groups is frequently used, only tentative efforts of social sciences to integrate rational choice models into the concept of strategy can be observed. This article seeks to make a case for network analysis to be applied in political media relations, as it enables the integration of approaches of strategy that have been kept separate so far. Doing so would allow strategic interactions to act as infrastructure for a descriptive analysis and environment for testing cost-benefits with the help of game theory. In this way, it allows for both a systematic integration of different strategy concepts and a comparative evaluation of their validity and explanatory power for empirical ex-post analysis in different social contexts. Developed in the German context, a possible comparative approach will be exemplified by the Russian Federation in accordance with the most different systems design.
Anonymity, the stealth mode of public communication, challenges different actors who deal with freedom of communication issues in their day to day life – be it professional journalists, information and communication scientists, technicians or political activists. This article aims to deliver theoretical background on the concept of anonymity on the macro-level, as well as to shed light on how different communicators deal with anonymity on the micro-level. Based on the example of the Anonymous movement, communicative actions are put in relation to media technological artifacts and their surrounding media environment with a focus on journalistic practice and public response to the phenomenon. The analysis concludes with the need for a preservation of options for anonymous public communication as a dimension of freedom of communication after carefully considering both the advantages and the potential risks connected to that mode of private-public communication.
This project is a case study of Phoenix Television, which is a Hong Kong-based satellite TV network broadcasting to the global Chinese-speaking community, primarily to the mainland of China. In the theoretical framework of media imperialism and neoliberal imperialism, this study focuses on the programming strategies of Phoenix TV and examines how the global trend of neoliberalism, the Chinese government’s tight control of the media, and the sophisticated ownership of Phoenix TV intertwined to influence on its programming. The analysis of the format, content, naming, and scheduling reveals that US-inspired neoliberalism is expressed in the network’s programming strategies. This expression, in fact, is the balance that Phoenix found between the tension of global and Chinese interests, the tension between revenue making and public service, and the tension between Party-control and profit seeking.
In the last few years I have been intensively reporting on all major UN Conferences on climate change/green economy/sustainable development issues both in Russian and German media. This type of reporting, which connects themes about the environment, politics and business might be rather new to a Russian readership, as environmental journalism is just beginning to take root in the Russian media landscape.
The challenges I faced confirm this assumption and include the following issues: the distance and abstractness of global issues, lack of strong political decisions and commitments, problems referring to future issues which might seem less relevant at the moment, turning complex and diverse information into linear stories, contradictory scientific research data, and many others. At the same time, in many ways, environmental journalism in Germany is quite different than in Russia – not only because media landscapes and media markets differentiate (including political and economical prerequisites), but also because the theme of sustainability has a completely different meaning and importance in political, business and social contexts.
In this article I will compare environmental reporting, mostly on UN-related events, in Russian and German media, in an attempt to outline both similarities and differences between the two media markets.