Current Edition 2024, Vol. 7 (1) May 2024

Table of contents

Editorial

By Stine Eckert

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Research Papers

Reaching for reconciliation Reader responses to seven newspapers’ apologies for histories of racist coverage

By Anna E. Lindner, Michael Fuhlhage, Keena Shante Neal, and Kirby Phillips | In the wake of the 2020 »racial reckoning,« many institutions issued apologies for complicity in systemic racism – and the news industry was no exception. This paper surveys the apologies issued by one news publication, the Montgomery Advertiser, that apologized two years before the 2020 reckoning, and six other newspapers that issued apologies between 2020 and the present day: the Los Angeles Times; Kansas City Star; Baltimore Sun; Philadelphia Inquirer; Seattle Times; and Oregonian. The present study investigates these publications’ apologies for racist and other problematic coverage through the lens of the Christian principles of sacramental reconciliation, which are designed to address past wrongs and repair relationships between transgressors and those who have been harmed. In addition, this paper assesses public responses to each of the new organizations’ expositions of and apologies for racist coverage, focusing on opinions published in public forums, particularly by people of color who belong to communities that have been harmed by these publications; journalists of color; editors and others involved in news making processes; and other prominent thought leaders in issues of race. Examining the wide range of responses to such apologies provides insight into public opinion about news institutions’ current standing with racialized communities and possible future steps toward more equitable and fair coverage of those who have historically been mistreated by news organizations.

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How journalism advances surveillant technology through weightless criticism Understanding one way consumers are nudged toward a state of total surveillance

By Robert W. McMahon | The growth of consumer products with surveillant capabilities, in conjunction with the economic pressure journalism is under, has created fertile ground for surveillance capitalism to thrive and journalism to become complicit in that growth. An examination of a corpus of texts containing the products of journalism suggests this complicity can be seen through a style of reporting conceptualized as weightless criticism.

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Women faculty in journalism and mass communication How do early-career scholars fare in the U.S. academy?

By Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver, Dorothy Bland and Lillian Abreu | Women make up more than half the U.S. population and comprise two-thirds of the graduates of college and university communications schools today (York 2017), but they are often not represented in the same proportions in faculty and leadership roles in those colleges and universities across the country. To address gender disparity and leadership pipeline issues among faculty in journalism and mass communication programs in higher education, the Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication at Florida International University conducted its first national study of participants in its Women Faculty Moving Forward (WFMF) program in 2019 to examine how effective the WFMF program has been in helping women advance in the field of journalism and mass communication in higher education. While respondents said they appreciated the mentoring program, they cited the need to address work/family/life tensions, more research time, more mentoring opportunities, as well as more transparency on salary/pay equity issues as primary concerns.

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Essay

Peace Journalism revisited A plea for better reporting on debates, controversies and social conflicts

By Sigrun Rottmann | A society that is challenged by multiple crises with many upheavals and conflicts needs journalists with conflict expertise. It needs journalists who are impartial, who contextualize and who report in a balanced and solution-oriented way. The media – even »quality media« – too often report on debates or conflicts using emotional and partisan language. They also increasingly make dubious diagnoses of division and polarization. Peace Journalism or Conflict-Sensitive Journalism as proposed by some peace and conflict researchers can provide inspiration and a basis for an interdisciplinary transfer of knowledge that supports good reporting on crises and social conflicts in Germany and elsewhere. They also provide an impetus for a debate about journalistic values and the role that journalism can and should play in uncertain times. This is an important topic when training new and more experienced journalists – especially in view of the communication strategies of populists and right-wing extremists who instrumentalize conflicts for their own purposes.

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Debate

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.

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Initiative Nachrichtenaufklärung

The »Top Ten Forgotten News of 2024« Topics that have been neglected by the media

By Initiative Nachrichtenaufklärung | Once a year, the non-governmental organization »Initiative Nachrichtenaufklärung« (INA), in collaboration with the Deutschlandfunk (German public radio) news department, releases a list of ten important issues that have been overlooked by the mainstream German-language media. Our goal is to draw attention to agenda-cutting and disinformation, as well as to highlight some topics for further investigation. Given the extensive coverage of the Russian war against the Ukraine and the Gaza conflict, along with the ongoing threats faced by journalists, investigators, and whistleblowers worldwide, the search for »forgotten news« is particularly crucial.

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Reviews

The top 10 of book journalism Recommendations for books by journalists

By Fritz Hausjell and Wolfgang R. Langenbucher | A project by the University of Vienna’s Department of Communication, the idea of selecting and presenting the best books by journalists was co-founded by Hannes Haas (1957-2014) and is compiled by Wolfgang R. Langenbucher and Fritz Hausjell. The first edition was published in 2002 in the quarterly journal Message, founded by Michael Haller. When that journal ceased publication, the book recommendations were documented in the magazine Der österreichische Journalist [The Austrian journalist] from 2015. This was interrupted in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. In 2022, a new place of publication was found: Journalism Research.

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Michael Stahl (2023): Der Platz der Freiheit und sein Denkmal. Gedenkort des Widerstands in München-Neuhausen. [Platz der Freiheit and its memorial. A place to remember the resistance in Munich-Neuhausen.]

Reviewed by Horst Pöttker | This highly insightful book is presumably an academic final thesis, although neither the foreword nor the footnotes indicate this. The methodological gymnastics surrounding the content analyses and the style that oscillates between youthfully flippant and academically uptight give rise to this conclusion. The book is insightful because it reveals a lack of attention in three ways.

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Combined review: Wartime propaganda

Reviewed by Sabine Schiffer | In his book, Christian Hardinghaus sets himself the task of explaining to his readers how they can uncover propaganda and thus evade the (intended) manipulation. The aim of Jonas Tögel’s book is to make NATO’s strategy papers and considerations visible in public discourse and thus to shed light on the human sphere as a potential sixth theater of war – alongside water, land, air, space and cyberspace.

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