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DFG Funds Three Projects on Media Change

DFG Funds Three Projects on Media Change

Bremen/Hamburg, 06 December 2018. Changes in journalism and the relationship between journalists and the audience are the focus of three research projects that have recently been granted funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The three projects originate from the research project “Communicative Figurations” and deal with an overarching question, what consequences the change of media and communication has for culture and society. The re-figuration of public communication in times of profound mediatisation is being examined.

In Project A, Prof. Andreas Hepp from ZeMKI, the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research of the University of Bremen, and Prof. Wiebke Loosen from the Hans-Bredow-Institut jointly examine new forms of journalism, called pioneer journalism, that are aimed at redefining journalism, its function, achievements, structures and practices. Project B (Prof. Wiebke Loosen) analyses the changes in the relationship of journalism to its audience and the consequences for journalistic work. In the third project, Prof. Uwe Hasebrink from the Hans-Bredow-Institut how people connect to different publics through their individual attitudes and, thus, contribute to a re-figuration of public communications.

More about the Projects

Project A: Pioneer Journalism: The Re-Figuration of the Organisation(s) of Journalism

Pioneer Journalism wants to establish new figurations of journalistic production and distribution. Media and digital technologies play a decisive role in this process and often form the basis for new developments. Pioneer journalism can be found in established media organisations, start-ups, accelerators and with individual professional pioneers. The project asks what role pioneer journalism plays in Germany in the re-figuration of organisational foundations of journalism and examines this on five levels. First, individual actors, start-ups, accelerators and established media organisations that are central to in the area of pioneer journalism are identified and their ideas of journalism are categorised. Secondly, various organisational figurations of established media organisations aimed at innovation are identified. Thirdly, organisational figurations in start-ups, accelerators and with individual pioneers are described. Fourthly, a qualitative network analysis and a standardised Twitter analysis will be used to describe the network of pioneer journalists that might have an overarching journalistic pioneer community. Fifthly, the research findings will be integrated into a comprehensive analysis of the re-figuration of organisational foundations of journalism with the aim of classifying patterns of their current transformation.

Details about the project.

Project B: Journalism and Its Audience: The Re-Figuration of a Relationship and Its Consequences for the Emergence of Journalistic Statements

Project B examines the re-figuration of the relationship of journalism to its audience and the consequences for the emergence of journalistic statements. Different forms of “measuring” as well as the participation of the audience have long been part of journalistic routines. The re-figuration of the relationship with the audience in journalism, however, is characterised by a fundamental expansion of the journalistic task of production and distribution of content, such as enabling and managing the connecting communications, networking, interaction or even collaboration of and with users. This has a lasting influence on how journalism, its products, achievements and overriding social function are “thought”, created, distributed, used and assessed. However, this re-figuration does not happen in all journalistic organisations or among all journalists at the same time or in the same way. Especially journalistic start-ups often put a new understanding of the relationship to the audience in the centre of their ideas and the organisation of journalism.

The project considers these phenomena to be intertwined and takes this into account in an empirical-analytical three-step-process. First, the relationships between the audience and journalists are reconstructed in all facets (understanding of roles in journalism, image of the audience, forms of participation, datafication of the audience, etc.). Secondly, we will analyse how these relationships influence the emergence of journalistic statements. Thirdly, both will be examined by comparing different organisational contexts in which journalists work, such as established media organisations or journalistic start-ups. For this purpose, interviews with journalists on the development of contributions will be conducted and combined it with a diary app, in which they document and evaluate relevant audience contact. Content analyses of the contributions and related statements by the audience as well as network analyses of the audience’s distribution of articles in social networks will be carried out.

Details about the project.

Project C: Public Connection: Individuals’ Media Repertoires and the Re-Figuration of Publics

Project C examines how individual media users connect to different publics and, thus, contribute to the re-figuration of public communication. Their media repertoires and other forms of public connection will be analysed as ‘repertoires of public connection’. These include all directions and practices by which individuals relate to some form of public. Thereby public spheres are understood in the plural; as social connections that go beyond the immediate private contexts of individuals. For example, individuals can establish links to the national public sphere of the country in which they live, to the local public sphere of their place of residence, to certain thematically defined interest groups or even to the fan communities of certain popular cultural phenomena.

The project pursues three research aims:
  1. Analysing individuals’ repertoires of public connection and their relations to biographical and social contexts;
  2. Examining the consequences of these repertoires for communicative figurations of different public spheres;
  3. Examining the consequences of current trends in media development for the re-figuration of public spheres.
By using a two-wave panel survey with media diaries and semi-structured interviews, it will be examined in detail which public spheres people connect to, for which reasons and with which communicative practices. Based on this module, a standardised representative survey will be conducted that will provide a comprehensive description of modern repertoires of public connection. The third module applies the qualitative approach of the first module to a sample of “pioneer users” who are characterised by unusual and innovative practices of public connection with regard to the acquirement of new media services. 

Details about the project.


Dr. Leif Kramp, Tel. 0421 21 86 76 52, E-Mail
Prof. Dr. Wiebke Loosen, Tel. 040 450 217 91, E-Mail

Information about the Hans-Bredow-Institut

Das Hans-Bredow-Institut researches media change and the related structural shifts in public communication. It combines basic and transfer research from a cross-media, interdisciplinary and independent perspective. Thus, it provides problem-specific knowledge for politics, commerce and civil society. As of 2019, the Hans-Bredow-Institut will be a member of the Leibniz Association. More information at www.hans-bredow-institut.de/en.

Information about ZeMKI / University of Bremen

The Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) bundles research activities at the University of Bremen in the area of media and communicative change regarding a broad range of cultural, social, organisational and technological context fields. The research institute is committed to interdisciplinary cooperation, integrating researchers from the areas of media and communication studies, computer science, information management, media pedagogics, film studies, theology, and history. In addition to their research activities, ZeMKI members are active in the various media related study programmes at the University of Bremen and are publicly involved in questions of media and communication change. More at www.zemki.uni-bremen.de/en/start.html.

Informationen about the Research Network "Communicative Figurations"

The research network Communicative Figurations is a joint initiative of the Universities of Bremen and Hamburg with the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) and the Institute for Information Management (ifib) in Bremen as well as the Law Faculty, the Faculty for the Humanities, the Faculty for Economics and Social Sciences, the  Research Center for Media and Communication (RCMC), the Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research (HBI) and the Research Centre for Media History (FMG) in Hamburg.  
On a daily basis, we experience that the change of culture and society are connected with the change of media communication. The constant reachability via mobile phone, email and information services changes the experience of time of individuals. Social relationships are reconfigured by various social web platforms. Whole social fields are recomposed when education is no longer only experienced by a direct counterpart but is primarily mediated or when politics is interwoven with media-oriented acts and practices. Media themselves are changing in relation to their content and technologies and along with it our whole media environment. Thereby we are not faced with short-term but long-term changes, that is, the transformation of the construction of socio-cultural realities. Which significance does the change of media and communication have for culture and society? Based on the expertise of distinct social sciences, humane disciplines and by inclusion of media-related computer science we respond to this question with a theoretically and empirically substantiated answer.

Recent studies on media change, communicative construction and mediatisation have demonstrated that it is not simply the effect of particular media content or a single medium that change the world. It is rather the increasing establishment of technical communication media altogether that leads to a transformation. Accordingly, understanding the significance of media for the transformation of socio-cultural realities can only be achieved when capturing transmedia communicative interweaving – what we designate as “communicative figurations”. The aim of the research network of the Universities of Bremen and Hamburg is to achieve this.


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