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Is Topic Fatigue an International Problem? Four Theses

Christina Schumann | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: Topic fatigue is a potential reaction to news topics that the media covers intensively. Recipients experiencing topic fatigue are annoyed and state that they do not want to hear or see anything about such topics anymore. As potential outcome, they strive to avoid such topics during their future news exposure. In this essay, we discuss the question of whether topic fatigue is an international problem. Based on initial empirical insights obtained via qualitative interviews, we establish four theses that underline the international meaning of the phenomenon. First, we argue that the level of press freedom can shape the intensity of topic fatigue and that fatigue experiences can be extreme in countries with low press freedom. Second, we discuss topic fatigue as a potential threat to political transitions and democratization processes. Third, we propose that topic fatigue may reinforce resentments against western societies. Regarding this point, the role of the international media in particular for English-speaking, non-western countries is addressed. Finally, we introduce the argument that topic fatigue may erode the deliberative potential of social media, which can be particularly problematic for countries in which the traditional news media is (politically) dependent. Ultimately, the key elements of these theses are used to propose a comparative research design for an international study on topic fatigue.

“Teach Syrians how to live here, to communicate, how to exchange information and knowledge”. Interview with Monis Bukhari, Founder and Director of Syrisches Haus

Christine HorzPDF-Fulltext

Abstract: Refugees do heavily rely on (social) media before and during migration, as the article by Anke Fiedler in this GMJ special issue impressively demonstrates. But what happens after refugees have reached their country of destination? Some become media producers like our interviewee, media and social media activist Monis Bukhari from Syria. He is the founder of Syrisches Haus (Syrian House) in Germany, an information platform from and for fellow Syrians who arrived here as refugees. This Facebook group currently has over 132.000 members – a huge part of the Syrian community in Germany. We asked him about his motivation and the goals of Syrisches Haus.

The Refugees: Threatening or Beneficial? Exploring the Effects of Positive and Negative Attitudes and Communication on Hostile Media Perceptions

Dorothee Arlt & Jens Wolling PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: In the actual debate on refugees in Germany the media’s role was heavily disputed. To understand this controversy, this study examines hostile media perceptions from the audience perspective. Building up on previous research on the hostile media phenomenon and considering literature on pro- and anti-immigrant attitudes, this study explores the effect of positive and negative attitudes towards refugees as well as of mainstream media, social media and interpersonal communication on hostile media perceptions. Using survey data (N=1005) and applying structural equation modelling, several hypotheses on the effects of attitudes and communication variables were tested. The results demonstrate that perceptions of media bias are strongly influenced by people’s negative and positive attitudes towards refugees and the basic hostile media hypothesis was confirmed. Moreover, our findings reveal that the perceived intensity of media coverage on contested aspects of the refugee issue also has an effect on perceptions of hostility. However, the various communication variables did not prove to have direct effects, whereas mainstream media use, social media use, and interpersonal communication with refugees had indirect effects on the hostile media perception.

New Trends of Social Media Use in Iran: Candidates’ Campaigns on Social Networks in the 2013 Presidential Elections

Mina Naeli | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: On June 14th, 2013, Iranians headed to the polls to cast their votes for the country’s next president. The unexpected turnout, that followed months of debates between those who wanted to go back to ballot boxes and those who did not, resulted in the election of Hasan Rouhani, the moderate cleric. About three months after the election, in his interview with NBC NEWS, Mr. Rouhani explained social networks’ role in his victory as undeniable and appreciated his supporters for promoting his campaign on these platforms. This commentary reviews Rouhani’s and the other state candidates’ use of formally blocked social networks during the recent presidential election in Iran, as a very recent shift toward planned and targeted use of social media by the government.

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