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Communicating the Environment in Laos

Manfred Oepen | PDF

Abstract: This article reflects experiences and results from an environmental education and communication strategy (EECS) as part of a Lao-German development project of Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) over a 10-year period from 2011 to 2021. The article is divided into four parts. First, an overview of the project context and the media landscape in Laos is provided. Next, the conceptual framework of the communication strategy at the GIZ policy and project management level is presented. Subsequently, major features of the wide variety of environmental education and communication media productions and educational materials are highlighted. Another chapter summarizes the results of Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) surveys related to environmental awareness. Finally, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and impact assessment results conclude lessons that can be learned from the project’s communication strategy.

Towards Cosmopolitanism in German Academia? Shedding Light on Colonial Underpinnings of Communication Research in a Globalized World

Camila Nobrega Rabello Alves & Débora Medeiros | PDF

Abstract: Coloniality is a notion that has been key in many disciplines for addressing power relations and  their embeddedness in continuous colonial hierarchies. This essay contributes to the reflections on the notion of cosmopolitanism in German academia, focusing on Communication Studies as a starting point. The possibility to develop research at a university in the Global North is usually presented by the hosting countries as a door to productive exchanges among colleagues from different backgrounds. Nevertheless, many hierarchies and pre-established concepts on knowledge production produce forms of epistemic silencing and other forms of violence and limits in these exchanges. The present essay proposes a process of dialogue with decolonial theories to trace roots on the meaning of cosmopolitanism, its borders and possibilities.

Do YouTubers Hate Asians? An Analysis of YouTube Users’ Anti-Asian Hatred on Major U.S. News Channels during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Yang Yu, Chanapa Noonark & Donghwa Chung | PDF

Abstract: The outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has been widely covered on major U.S. media. “Chinese Virus” or “Wuhan Virus” became media buzz words especially at the beginning stage of the outbreak, which was feared to fuel anti-Asian hatred both in the U.S. and worldwide. This study examines the news coverage about COVID-19 in relation to Asians, mainly Chinese and China, on YouTube channels of major U.S. media outlets, and explores the relationship between the media framing and anti-Asian sentiments embedded in the comments beneath the news video. By content analyzing 50 news videos covering COVID-19 and Asians from 5 U.S. media organizations and 5000 comments, the findings suggest that attribution of responsibility and conflict are the most frequently used frames by the news reporting. The results also reveal that suspicion of conspiracy, rather than blaming, emerged as the most frequent theme embedded in hateful comments. One promising finding is that the frequency of hateful comments is significantly lower than that of non-hateful comments across all news frame categories.

A Global Communication M.A. Double Degree Program: Conceptualizing and Working Through Diversity

Byron Hauck & Joseph Nicolai | PDF

Abstract: At a time when diversity and de-westernization are current buzz words for injecting social justice into the future of communication studies, we must address how we conceptualize and confront these concepts in practice. Academic Cosmopolitanism has been proposed as one way forward, but it remains in the trenches of cosmopolitan theory’s difficulty of dealing with diversity in political systems. Simon Fraser University and the Communication University of China’s Global Communication MA Double Degree Program embodies many of the core values of academic cosmopolitanism. Grounded in a transcultural political economy framework however, it embraces some of the kinds of conflicts that cosmopolitanism sets up as barriers. Via autoethnographic accounts from the program’s first teaching assistant and an alumnae from its first cohort, we explore how the conflicts involved in conceptualizing and confronting diversity are experienced on the ground. We conclude by highlighting the ways in which transcultural political economy enriches discussions on diversity and inform efforts to de-colonize communication studies.

COVID-19 from the Margins: Crafting a (Cosmopolitan) Theory

Silvia Masiero, Stefania Milan & Emiliano Treré | PDF

Abstract: Voicing systematically marginalised communities is a problem historically posed in the media and communications field, in terms of de-Westernisation and, more radically, cosmopolitanism. Such a problem has been magnified in the COVID-19 pandemic, with narratives from systematically devoicedcommunities – ranging from migrants to informal workers, ethnic minorities, economically poor people, and survivors of domestic violence – remaining untold. Recognising the need for a conceptual apparatus to voice the silenced narratives of the pandemic, this paper conducts two tasks: first, it crafts a theoretical apparatus of three devices (data at the margins; data poverty; and the datafication of anti-poverty programmes) to conceptualise COVID-19 stories from the margins. Second, it applies such a theoretical apparatus to a map of five problems (counting in the pandemic; new inequalities and vulnerabilities; datafied social protection; data injustices; solidarity and resistance from below) opened by discussion on COVID-19 from the margins. By doing so it offers a conceptual lens responding to the call for cosmopolitanism in media and communications, applying it to the study of COVID-19 narrations from the globe.

Rezension: Media and Transformation in Germany and Indonesia. Asymmetrical Comparisons and Perspectives

Anne Grüne & Kai Hafez & Subekti Priyadharma & Sabrina Schmidt (Eds.) (2019): Media and Transformation in Germany and Indonesia. Asymmetrical Comparisons and Perspectives. Berlin: Frank & Timme. 346 Seiten. ISBN 978-3-7329-0579-9


Florian Meissner, Macromedia University of Applied Sciences, Cologne

Twenty years ago, a book published by Curran and Park paved the way for a “De-Westernization” discourse in media and communication research. It has often been misunderstood as a simple call to include more non-Western countries in international studies. But in fact, the criticism of a Euro-American bias went deeper. It included the uncritical application of Western-centric theory and methodology to non-Western Cover: Media and Transformation in Germany and Indonesia: Asymmetrical Comparisons and Perspectivessocieties. This book stands in the tradition of the “De-Westernization” discourse, aiming to juxtapose “asymmetrical” perspectives on media and communication from two geographically and culturally distant countries—in this particular case Germany and Indonesia.

Before looking at the content in greater detail, it is important to note that the book documents the proceedings of an academic conference based on the collaborative project “Media Systems and Communication Cultures—Germany and Indonesia in Comparative Perspective”. The project was jointly conducted by the University of Erfurt, Germany, and Universitas Padjadjaran, Indonesia, and funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The book assembles a series of manuscripts, several of which are instructive and potentially useful for further research. However, the connection between the individual contributions is rather loose. Some chapters even hardly relate to the overall topic of the book. Therefore, one should not expect an overarching, coherent methodology nor an in-depth comparative analysis in this book. Instead, each section closes with a brief documentation of a roundtable discussion that followed each panel of the conference, often highlighting similarities and differences between the analytical perspectives on German and Indonesian media landscapes.

The first section centers around the theme of Media and Political Transformation. Mira Rochyadi-Reetz and Martin Löffelholz start with a systematic comparison of the media systems in both countries. Their main theoretical references are the “Four Theories of the Press” study by Siebert, Peterson and Schramm (1956) as well as “Comparing Media Systems” by Hallin and Mancini (2004). The choice is surprising because at least the former is outdated and the latter is characterized by a clear Euro-American focus. An alternative would have been the approach by Blum (2014) who created a useful categorization of media systems that explicitly involves non-Western societies. Nevertheless, the chapter provides some interesting descriptive insights on major differences between both media systems, for instance regarding pluralism, professional autonomy, and media concentration. A more in-depth analysis of the Indonesian media system since 1945 is provided in the following chapter by Ade Armando. It outlines how various attempts to establish a liberal media system were effectively thwarted by authoritarian governments until 1998, when dictator Suharto resigned and a new democratic era (“reformation”) began. However, the Indonesian media system remains deeply marked by the oscillation between media control and media freedom. The last contribution to this section is an analysis by Oliver Hahn and David Liewehr of the German federal election campaign in 2017. The chapter entails a concise summary of key aspects such as the successful communication strategy of the right-wing populist party AfD and the imploding campaign of the once promising social-democratic candidate Martin Schulz. However, due to its narrow focus, the contribution this chapter makes to the overall theme of the book remains relatively limited.

The second section focuses on Media Representation and Racism. It is opened by Sabrina Schmidt who discusses the connection between racism theory and the Habermasian public sphere. While the analysis is quite instructive from a theoretical point of view, it is also lengthy and not closely connected to the comparative perspective on German and Indonesian media systems. In her analysis, Schmidt makes a disputable claim stating that the Habermasian theory of the public sphere is universal and therefore can be meaningfully applied on democratic societies beyond the western world. Even for the case of Japan, another Asian country that has a much longer democratic tradition than Indonesia, scholars have voiced very serious doubts on the Habermasian concept being applicable on the Japanese media system. The theoretical analysis is followed by two empirical contributions that are among the most insightful pieces in this book. First, Ratna Noviani analyzes cinematic representation of “Chineseness” in Indonesia. The analysis is highly interesting because it is the first contribution to the volume that provides a qualitative understanding of how one of the many conflict lines in this multiethnic and multi-religious country is portrayed by Indonesian filmmakers, ranging from othering to admiration. In a similar vein, Margreth Lünenborg offers an intriguing analysis of migrants’ visual representations in German media. For instance, the author is able to demonstrate how different visual means are used to portray migrants as either anonymous or as visible human beings, respectively as an overwhelming mass of people vs. human beings that the viewer can empathize with.

In section three, Internet and Counter Public Sphere, Subekti Priyadharma compares the German/Indonesian online public spheres. His analysis shows some substantial differences, for instance concerning social media usage (despite lower internet access, Indonesia by far exceeds Germany with regard to social media usage). However, it also demonstrates striking similarities between both countries regarding the spread of disinformation and the rise of right-wing populism in online public spheres. In the next chapter, Jeffrey Wimmer discusses the participatory and thus democratic potential of the internet, in particular social networks, from a generic perspective. Unfortunately, his insights are not directly linked to the cases of German and Indonesian public spheres.

The fourth and last section centers around the interrelation between Popular Culture and Democracy. The first chapter by Randa Aboubakr is an analysis of popular culture as a venue for representation and participation of minorities—with a focus on Egypt, which is surprising given the fact that the book title promises comparative perspectives on Germany and Indonesia. Anne Grüne’s analysis provides insights on how popular culture can be used as a venue for democratic transformation, but also be misused for anti-democratic tendencies. Lastly, Yasraf A. Piliang provides a sharp analysis of current problems and shortcomings of the political debate in Indonesia, describing an increasing shift from ideals such as coexistence and cooperation towards extreme personalization and self-glorification of political actors—a concerning tendency indeed being somewhat reminiscent of prominent populist actors in the Western world.

To conclude, several contributions to this book offer compelling analyses concerning different aspects of the media systems in Germany and Indonesia. However, only in some cases a meaningful level of comparison between both is achieved. Some chapters do not even have a convincing connection to the overall theme. Of course, conference proceedings are not comparable to a classical edited volume, but it would still have been helpful if some key insights of this book would have been integrated in a concluding chapter. Regardless of this, for readers interested in international media systems and/or transformative contexts, the work offers some valuable insights as well as starting points for future research.

Cairo-Berlin Return: Early Arab-German Cooperation in Film – The Egyptian-German Example

Irit Neidhardt | PDF

Abstract: The Arab-German cooperation in film began after World War I in 1919/1920 when the first Egyptians came to learn the then brand new art in Germany, and has been continuing with different Arab partners ever since. Yet there is neither a public nor a professional awareness of this history. When Arab and German film professionals meet at international co-production platforms today, they practically get together as strangers. Despite its richness, the common history does not serve as a point of reference. It is not written. This paper, therefore, attempts to shed light on this forgotten period of cooperation. It looks at how and why such a collaboration was initiated. Moreover, it describes its different formats and also why the Egyptian-German encounter eventually came to an end.


What Global Censorship Studies Tell us About Hong Kong’s Media Future

Cherian George | PDF

Abstract: China imposed a new National Security Law on its Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Hong Kong in mid-2020. The deployment of this legal weapon, combined with other actions of local authorities that have grown noticeably more irritable and vindictive, means that Hong Kong media no longer enjoy the freedom from government restrictions that they had been accustomed to.
Hong Kong has thus joined the ranks of the many societies with media environments that are semifree and semi-closed. These societies’ experiences indicate that arrests and bans, while attracting the most attention, are not what inflict the most damage in the long run. As alarming as the on-going legal actions are, citizens’ access to information and ideas is more likely to be restricted by less spectacular and coercive means, including economic carrots and sticks that encourage a culture of self-censorship. Such an environment requires new mindsets and skillsets among journalists.

(Post-)Koloniale Erinnerungen in der Presse: Der Völkermord in Deutsch-Südwestafrika in deutschen und namibischen Zeitungen

Christina Haritos | PDF

Abstract: Der Völkermord in der Kolonie Deutsch-Südwestafrika stellt bislang gültiges kulturelles Wissen über die deutsche und die namibische Vergangenheit in Frage – was vor allem in den aktuellen Debatten um Kolonialdenkmäler und Straßennamen in beiden Ländern zum Ausdruck kommt. Eingerahmt durch die erste deutsche Entschuldigung 2004 und die Klage der betroffenen Gruppen 2017 untersucht diese Arbeit die Produktion des Völkermordes im deutschen und namibischen kulturellen Gedächtnis durch journalistische Berichterstattung. Dabei soll beantwortet werden, anhand welcher diskursiven Regeln Journalismus den Völkermord in der verwobenen Erinnerungskultur beider Länder konstruiert. Mit einer kategoriengeleiteten qualitativen Inhaltsanalyse werden 142 Artikel in deutschen und namibischen Zeitungen analysiert. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass Journalismus dieses Thema weiterhin oft als historisches oder exotisches Interessensthema konstruiert. Dabei werden häufig koloniale Wissenshorizonte und Vorstellungen transportiert, selbst wenn Kolonialismus fast ausnahmslos kritisch betrachtet wird. Die eigene Identität wird dabei durch Kontrast zum abnormalen Völkermord gestärkt und so das Ereignis von der kollektiven Selbstkonstruktion ausgeklammert. Gleichzeitig wird eine transnationale Verstrickung des Diskurses in der prominenten Sprecherschaft von deutschsprachigen Wissenschaftler*innen sichtbar, die den Erinnerungsdiskurs maßgeblich prägen.

Reforming Journalism Education on a Tertiary Level in Afghanistan: Recommendations for a Dual Education Model

Kefa Hamidi & Alessandra Brüchner | PDF

Abstract: The importance of journalism’s role in society is beyond debate. Particularly in so-called fragile states, the social responsibility of media and journalism cannot be denied. Journalism education must account for the high level of skills required by journalists, and the ‘mediation’ function of journalists in fragile states should be conceptualised. Responding to dynamic developments in the Afghan media landscape and the resulting need for high-quality journalism education, this article proposes a reform model for journalism education on a tertiary level in Afghanistan. Based on research as well as a needs and feasibility assessment following the participatory action research (PAR) approach, target models and an implementation plan for educational reform were developed. This provides a potential blueprint for reforms in journalism education in fragile states, which considers social and cultural values and interests in the local context while drawing on the perspective of the outsider. This article presents the results of a project entitled “Professionalisation of Journalism Education on a Tertiary Level in Afghanistan”, which resulted in a manual.

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