From broadcasters to open ecosystems On the reform and future of public service broadcasting

By Leonhard Dobusch | In the age of digital platforms, democratic public discourse is increasingly being structured by private, primarily profit-driven companies. While the dual media system in Germany persists, this context presents public service media with the challenge of establishing a relevant public discourse in line with alternative logics that primarily center around a democratic mandate. If they are to tackle this challenge successfully, public service media must themselves become platform operators – opening up their communication infrastructure to their own audience in particular, as well as to other non-profit and, in certain areas, even commercial media. In contrast to the narratives that dominate the media, public service broadcasters in Germany are already very advanced in the development of services like this. A public service ecosystem strategy based on open software, protocols and platforms would thus not mean radical upheaval, but primarily the logical further development of digitalization pathways that have already begun.

All twittered out What @ichbinsophiescholl tells us about platform criticism in journalism

By Nora Hespers | Journalists and media houses use a wide range of social media platforms to reach their audience. Yet this use is rarely subject to critical examination. The downfall of Twitter, now X, is the ideal opportunity to take a critical look at the structures and economic conditions behind these networks. But still there is no great debate – just as there wasn’t in the case of the Instagram project @ichbinsophiescholl. Does journalism lack expertise in social media?

A lack of critical corrective Expectation-led distortions in reporting on the welfare state in Germany

By Georg Cremer | However valid their empirical basis, the images commonly distributed on the social situation and welfare policy in Germany have consequences for reporting – they shape the developments that are considered worthy of reporting on and how they are interpreted. As a result, reporting serves to reinforce hardened opinions. This often negatively impacts a solution-oriented debate on reform, as problems are not considered in a sophisticated way for specific target groups. The media frequently fail to provide a critical corrective, especially when press releases from social organizations are in line with preconceived perceptions and the demands that the organizations derive from them appear to be for a good cause. Even where depictions are extremely distorted, politicians are often reluctant to take a contrasting position, as this carries the risk of being accused of wanting to ›talk down‹ social problems. A lack of statistical skills for handling complex social statistics also plays a role.

»Defend the institutions!« Public service media safeguard democracy

By Barbara Thomaß | Expectations for the reform of public service broadcasting in Germany are enormous. Just as great, if not greater, is the need to meet these expectations – and the motivation to achieve this is more than high. There is a real danger of failing to meet these excessive expectations and a process of ailing setting in, with changes in political majorities in the states possible.

Pact with the devil

Henning Eichler interviewed by Wolfgang Scheidt / Henning Eichler’s latest study, »Journalism in social networks. ARD and ZDF under the spell of the algorithms,« was conducted on behalf of the Otto Brenner Foundation and examines the conflict between public value and platforming. In an interview, its author explains how algorithmic methods of working and platform logics influence journalistic content. Eichler – a radio journalist at Hessischer Rundfunk and Deputy Professor of Media Sciences and Digital Journalism at Hochschule RheinMain – calls for greater transparency from the operators of advertising platforms and a code of digital ethics for social media editorial offices.

On myths of solidarity and the logic of war Media as the focus of political media strategies

by Sabine Schiffer / The Russian army officially marched into Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Since then, a terrible war has played out there in plain sight. A war that is taking place on our own continent, with countless victims, bringing with it war crimes and a wartime economy, destroyed infrastructure, mercenary forces, militias, dead civilians, rape – like any war. Through the media, we see the war in Ukraine in detail and up close – not like any war.

The parole on the ›misery of the media‹

by Alexis von Mirbach / The feud between Siegfried Weischenberg and Michael Meyen is no secret in the world of communication studies and provides the only logical explanation for the claim that our book Das Elend der Medien [The misery of the media] forms part of a field called alternative media criticism (AMC).

Of scientific relativization and differentiation Why Siegfried Weischenberg’s assessment of Noam Chomsky’s propaganda approach is wrong

by Florian Zollmann / Siegfried Weischenberg regards Noam Chomsky’s propaganda approach as exemplary of an Alternative Media Criticism (AMC). According to Weischenberg, the AMC is lacking in balance as well as scientific relativization and differentiation. As the following article will show, Weischenberg’s account of Chomsky’s propaganda approach is incorrect and inconsistent with the academic literature.

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.