Edition 3/2021

Table of contents

Editorial 3/2021

strong>Dear Readers, during Bundesliga soccer matches, Germany seems to have 82 million (armchair) coaches. In the pandemic, we had 82 million virologists. And occasionally it seems, especially on social media, that we even have 82 million media critics.
In the face of such competition, professional media criticism gets sidelined a bit, of course.

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How deep is the ›misery of the media‹? A report on »alternative« journalism criticism – gleaned from a collection of voices on the propaganda battle waging around Covid-19 coverage (and other things)

by Siegfried Weischenberg / Never has journalism in Germany been attacked more ferociously than in the many publications of »alternative« media criticism, which has gained momentum in recent years. The tone has become even harsher since the »mainstream media« started reporting widely on the management of the pandemic. They are accused of total professional failure, further narrowing the corridor of acceptable opinions, one-sided propaganda in favor of the restrictions in general and the vaccination effort, in particular, as well as a complete lack of balance in their selection of experts who are given a platform. But, for all their radicalism, these »alternative media critics« do not differ that much from the »mainstream« in that they, too, like to self-reference amongst their own pack and are also quite adept at harnessing sensationalism to command attention, even if the facts are rather thin.

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Tired of retirement An inventory of pensioners in journalism in an age of precarious employment and the covid-19 pandemic

by Jana Rick / Pensioners working in journalism have so far been the subject of little research. Yet with studies suggesting that this group makes up a large proportion of freelance journalists in Germany, it is worth focusing an investigation on these pensioners. This paper is based on a survey of 102 journalists from all over Germany who draw a pension and are still journalists as their main or side job. For the first time, the data allows us to describe pensioners in journalism and provide information on their socio-demographics, working situation, and working conditions.

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Microphone and quill Starting in the 1960s, New Journalism exponent Norman Mailer used literary techniques to make reportage his own

by Steven Thomsen / The work of Norman Mailer is far less prevalent in the German-speaking world now than it was in the 1960s and 1970s. Few of those who continue to read or discover his novels today know that the American author also worked as a journalist throughout almost his entire career. Loved and hated in equal measure in his home country, the intellectual was a master of using literary techniques to enliven journalistic texts. This paper uses the famous report on the Democratic National Convention, »Superman Comes to the Supermarket,« to illustrate how Mailer redefined and went beyond the boundaries of traditional reportage.

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Let’s talk about utopias On the topicality of ecological visions and media critique in Ernest Callenbach’s novel Ecotopia

by Gabriele Hooffacker / Utopias allow us to criticize the present from an assumed positive future perspective. At present, however, dystopias are dominating the discourse. Using Ernest Callenbach’s 1975 novel Ecotopia, our author tested the topicality of a positive ecological utopia in a teaching project: Students at a summer academy read excerpts from the novel and explored its positive ecological visions of the future as well as its criticism of the contemporary media system.

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Journalism in the age of tech sponsoring? A case for stronger journalism in the digital media world

by Mandy Tröger / Building on the paper by Günther and Schultz (2021) »Ten Theses for Strong Journalism in a Digital Media World«, this paper adds an eleventh thesis to the case: Good digital journalism will have to face the issue of new structural dependencies created by tech sponsorship. For when journalism is funded by corporations such as Google or Facebook, digital journalism is subjected to new market and product logics, not least because these corporations provide the digital infrastructures.

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Konrad Dussel: Bilder als Botschaft. Bildstrukturen deutscher Illustrierter 1905–1945 im Spannungsfeld von Politik, Wirtschaft und Publikum. (Messaging through images. Image structures in German illustrated magazines from 1905 to 1945 between politics, business, and their audiences)

Reviewed by Ursula E. Koch / 2019 was a great year for literature on the history of press illustrations. It saw the publication of both the fact-packed »Künstlerlexikon« Bilder in der Presse by art and cultural historian Detlef Lorenz and the present publication by Mannheim historian and media history expert Konrad Dussel. The title of his pioneering work refers to the phrase »the medium is the message«, coined more than 50 years ago by Canadian philosopher and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan.

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Sabine Schiffer: Medienanalyse. Ein kritisches Lehrbuch. (Media Analysis. A critical textbook)

Reviewed by Johannes Gemkow / In her textbook Medienanalyse, Sabine Schiffer describes the media-guided construction of meaning and presents media-analytical procedures. The author’s objective was to create a hands-on textbook for daily practice, which means that it ought to be clear and descriptive, and feature practical examples.

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Beatrice Dernbach, Beate Illg (eds.): Journalism and Journalism Education in Developing Countries

Reviewed by Guido Keel / Journalism, which plays a key role in the political, economic, and social development of countries, is facing two challenges at once: First, it must find its role in social transformation. It must determine whether it should help strengthen political and economic structures as a government-loyal actor, or whether it should question the changes as a critical observer. Secondly, it must – at least in part – first build the necessary (infra-)structures, or reform them to create a new self-image.

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Peter Welchering: Journalistische Praxis: Recherche. (Journalism practice: research)

Reviewed by Hektor Haarkötter / Journalist and university lecturer Peter Welchering published a volume on digital research in the »Essentials« series by Springer VS. In a compact brochure format, Springer Essentials provide concise overviews of a variety of topics, often practical or pragmatic.

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