Some Thoughts on Prescribing Inclusive, Non-discriminatory Language

by Bernhard Debatin / We are living in a time of linguistic transformation. Yet, this is not because our times might be particularly stormy, even though one could assume that, given the impact of climate crisis, pandemic, increasingly uneven distribution of wealth, and speedy development of disruptive technologies. Rather, the issue is that language is constantly changing. And here, just as in many other areas of society, Ernst Bloch‘s dictum of the synchronicity of the asynchronous holds true. Not only is language changing, the change also occurs in a way that new forms of language will be accepted and familiarized in some areas of society, while it may take much longer in other areas. continue to article

Notes on the gender debate in Journalism Research

by Gabriele Hooffacker / Journalistic language should be as precise as possible. Its purpose is communication. Yet journalistic language can also encourage one-sided views. It makes a difference whether a news report speaks of »freedom fighters« or »rebels,« a »government« or a »regime,« »migrants« or »refugees.« Those who have good journalistic training or relevant practical experience increasingly know this and take it into account. continue to article

Gender-sensitive language in Journalism Research – recommendation or binding regulation?

by Horst Pöttker / Our discussion revolves around two questions: suitable means for enacting a linguistic change that overcomes paternalistic writing traditions; and the level of obligation with which we make rules that (are intended to) lead to this linguistic change compulsory for authors in our journal. In order to answer the first question, it is crucial to know how language as a system of symbols is understood. In my understanding, it serves primarily to enable communication between subjects, which may necessarily differ in gender, age, origin, religion, profession, education, political views and many other characteristics. This function calls for the language used by arts and social sciences, which have a particular interest in comprehension, to be as comprehensible as possible.continue to article

»… and always just think of the reader«? ›Journalism Research‹, visibility and language

by Martina Thiele / In his day, Focus Chief Editor Helmut Markwort demanded not only »facts, facts, facts,« but also a focus on the »readers.« That was in the 1990s. Today, in 2020, there is disagreement about whether Journalism Research, an »academic journal under the principle of independent publishing,« should, indeed must, use gender-sensitive formulations – whether we three male and two female publishers should in future encourage authors to write in a gender-sensitive way. So far, the style sheet has kept quiet on this. Other aspects, such as the form of citation and the length and form of potential papers, are prescribed, but there is no mention of gender-sensitive, non-discriminatory language. continue to article

Trial phase The discussion about gendering is fierce – instead of strict specifications, we need the courage to allow diversity

by Tanjev Schultz / Gender-sensitive language remains a political issue. For some it is essential, for others just a temporary fad. In academic, and increasingly also journalistic, contexts, attention is paid to whether male and female forms are used. The asterisk is also becoming ever more widespread as a way to overcome binary gender classification. Despite the growing popularity of such forms, language use is inconsistent across different social spheres and ideological environments. In some cases, there is strong resistance to any form of gendering. Many editorial offices continue to use the generic masculine form as standard. continue to article

Overrated bots? An examination of Twitter debates – and what journalists can learn from it

by Tommy Hasert and Gabriele Hooffacker / Social bots are suspected of having an impact on public discourse, manipulating election results, and seeking to influence political conflicts. This paper is based on an investigation that sought to detect and evaluate social bots in current Twitter debates. The authors show that the influence of bots appears much less dramatic than is often written about. In fact, over-regulation presents a greater threat to democracy than the bots themselves.

The peculiar logic of the content marketer Justified critics of established mass media? Or just lobbyists for their own cause?

By Lutz Frühbrodt / Again and again, leading names in content marketing (CM) have questioned whether the media system in Germany is fit for purpose. They claim that journalism is under-resourced, not independent, and active only in user-unfriendly filter bubbles. In contrast, they say, content marketing – advertising using journalistic means – is user-friendly and beneficial. In fact, “corporate journalism” is often of higher quality, they argue. However, analyzing their arguments shows that the logic of CM lobbyists is often skewed. continue to article