Last week I had the honor of opening the 9th Aarau Democracy Days on the role of media in direct democracy with a key note on “(Direct) Democracy in the Age of Individualized Media Use”. I was very happy to have an occasion to present first results from my study on public disconnection, fragmentation of digital audience and indirect news use in Switzerland , supported by the NCCR democracy and the Institute for Mass Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich.
You can either catch the live Facebook feed here.
or you can read a summarized version on the blog defacto.
Both are in (high) German.
Johannes Kaiser (my doctoral student in Zurich) and I have published an article in the Journal of Common Market Studies on the question whether the Euro crisis has led to a Europeanization of the public spheres in Germany and Spain. Based on a content analysis of quality online newspapers between 2010 and 2014, we come to the conclusion that the framing of the crisis has Europeanized and is increasingly sustained by national actors.
For me, this article is sort of “back to the roots” as my first ever peer-reviewed paper (on the transnationalization of public spheres) was also published in JCMS. For Johannes, this is a very prestigious and promising venue for his first post-MA publication, and I am very much looking forward to watching his academic career enfold from here. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcms.12515/full
As of Augst 1st, 2016, I will join the faculty of the University of Hamburg as Chair for Journalism/Communication Studies, Digital Communication and Sustainability. For my new department I am looking for a doctoral student (50%) and a post doc (100%), fixed-term contracts of three years (renewable under certain conditions) starting in September 2016 in the field of political communication in social media – either focusing on political communication contents or effects. If this interests you, please check out the full descriptions here (post doc) and here (WiMi).
On April 4th 2016, a bit more than a year after my arrival in Zurich, I held my inaugural lecture at the University of Zurich on the the question of “Political communication in the age of individualized media use” in the so-called Churchill-Saal, the auditorium where Churchill had his «let Europe arise!» speech in 1946. A very impressive setting and for me, a very moving but difficult occasion, as I was at the same time negotiating with the University of Hamburg.
Here are the manuscript and the slides of my inaugural lecture (in German): Antrittsvorlesung_KKvK_Folien Antrittsvorlesung_KKvK_Final
Media regulation aiming at increasing the diversity of information which is available to citizens but which is also accessed by them faces a great challenge in the form of the growing role of the New Information Intermediaries (search engines, social media platforms and app stores). Together with Natali Helberger (University of Amsterdam) and Rob van der Noll (SEO Economic Research) I am discussing in a special issue of info why earlier approaches to information gatekeeper regulation are no longer useful. Based on a review of current empirical research on political information use via New Information Intermediaries we develop a new user-centric approach to media regulation that pays closer attention to the dynamic relationship between gatekeepers and gated (i.e. the users).
Click here for the article.
Most intermedia agenda setting studies only look at a particular part of the news enviroment. But based on our extensive AUTNES data set we (Ramona Vonbun, Klaus Schönbach and I) were able to map intermedia agenda setting processes for the complete news environment of a country before the national election: Analysing 38 newspapers, TV news broadcasts, news websites and the major wire service through semi-automatic content analysis and time series analysis we were able to show that intermedia agenda setting processes occur, despite previous evidence to the contrary, even in election times. Additionally, a medium’s opinion-leader role depends strongly on issue-specific characteristics, such as obtrusiveness and proximity, mediating the intermedia agenda-setting process. And the traditional role of print media as intermedia agenda-setters is found to be challenged by online news sites. Please check out the full article Online-First at Journalism.
This year I have contributed to three papers which will be presented in Puerto Rico:
“Exploring News Content Complexity Using Network Analysis” (with Carina Jacobi, Jakob-Moritz Eberl, and Stephan Schlögl) discusses how network analysis can be used to analyze the complexity of media coverage. By conceptualizing political coverage as a symbolic network representing a public sphere, we are able to adapt three useful indicators from network analysis to compare and evaluate the complexity of political news in different media outlets. Network density enables us to judge the general interconnectedness of the depicted debate, network centralization allows us to look at the focus on specific actors or issues, and network heterogeneity reflects the diversity within these actor and issue networks. Following a theoretical and methodological discussion of the applicability of these three indicators for evaluating news complexity, we demonstrate their usefulness in a case study comparing the political news coverage of tabloid and elite newspapers during a national election campaign.
“Issue Public Membership as a Mediating Factor in the Individual Agenda-Setting Process” (with Ramona Vonbon and Hajo Boomgaarden): This paper investigates the role of the individual media agenda and issue public membership in the agenda-setting process in a theoretical model. It will then test this model for five issues, based on media content analysis of 28 news outlets and a panel study of 2,456 respondents in the context of a national election. The findings of the path models show, first, that the public agenda is quite stable. Second, the influence of the media agenda on the public’s personal issue agenda is mediated through the involvement with a particular issue – i.e. issue public membership.
“Perceptions of Climate Changes Imagery. Evoking Salience and Self-Efficacy Through Visualization of Climate Change” (with Julia Metag, Mike Schäfer, Tjado Barsuhn, Tobias Füchslin): Although the media coverage of climate change has been given some attention in the last years, only very few studies deal with visual representations of climate change. As a study by O’Neill et al. (2013) for Australia, USA and the UK has shown, climate change imagery can shape people’s perceptions of the issue. Therefore we analyze the influence of climate change imagery on citizens’ perceptions in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. We focus on which images would increase the salience of climate change as an issue (‘this image makes me feel climate change is important’) and which images would enhance self-efficacy (‘this image makes me feel I can do something about climate change’). The data was gathered in Q-methodology sorting sessions which were held in the three countries. Results were quite consistent across countries. Imagery of climate change impacts promotes salience while imagery of renewable energies and mobility enhances self-efficacy. The findings are similar to the US, UK and Australia (O’Neill et al., 2013) and strengthen the cross-cultural consistency in perceptions of visual representations of climate change.
On Friday, 15th May 2015, I’ll be presenting a study on the effects of party and media communication on volatile voters at the annual conference of the German Communication Research Association (DGPuK). It’s a fascinating study in which my co-authors (David Johann, Sylvia Kritzinger, Kathrin Thomas, all from the University of Vienna) and me were able to fully profit from the impressive data set accumulated in the Austrian National Election Study AUTNES (www.autnes.at): A rolling cross section panel survey combined with a fine-grained manual content analysis of all major news sources. Based on these data, we can show that party communication only succeeded in persuading voters to change allegiance during the campaign if it was direct, personal communication at the doorstep, at party stands or on the street. But the politcal bias (salience and tone) in the individual news diet also had a significant impact on the likelihood of people switching to a specific party.
Things have been rather quiet here for a while, I know. Moving a family of four (and let’s not forget the CITES violating historical piano) from Vienna, Austria (EU) to Zurich, Switzerland (Europe, but definitely not EU) turned out to be quite a task. But now that we have settled in, I am so happy to be able to focus on my work again. So expect a lot of posts soon.
I am looking for two doctoral students (research assistants 60% contract) for my new department “political communication” at the University of Zurich – ideally one with a focus on the content of political communication, one on reception/effects of political communication. Though you will need some German (at least enough to understand the job description here Ausschreibung IPMZ KKvK), non-native speakers are more than welcome to apply. For enquiries, please contact me directly. All applications should go to firstname.lastname@example.org.