Academic pluralism is one of the core concepts of this journal, as can be seen from the editorial of the very first edition. It stated that the group of publishers displays sufficient plurality in terms of »age, gender, nationality and academic profile.« This is just one of the reasons – the main one being her expertise and cooperative nature – why we are so delighted to introduce Stine Eckert, who is joining us as an additional publisher. Having studied Journalism Studies and American Studies in Leipzig and gained her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, today she is Associate Professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. Her research focuses on the intersection of media, gender, and minorities, and on the democratic potential of digital media.
When it comes to content, too, we aim to achieve »the widest possible range of subjects and problems, perspectives and methods, theoretical approaches, and practical relevance,« providing space for »both empirical, analytical and historic, hermeneutic articles and essays.« This edition is characteristic of that. The articles and the essay look at topics that could hardly be more different. The question of how artificial intelligence (AI) can help journalistic production has relevance for the future, while the article on Austrian journalism commentator Hilde Spiel whose career was thrown off course by exile and war, looks back at the past. After portraits of so many male role models – Erich Kästner, Daniel Defoe, Joseph Roth, Mahatma Gandhi, Lincoln Steffens, Norman Mailer – in previous editions, we now shine the spotlight on a woman who characterizes both journalism’s problems and its potential. And while the article on news selection and reception based on the example of the Claas Relotious scandal has a direct impact on current journalistic practice, the essay on how research quantity and teaching quality are unequally rewarded tackles a long-term problem in professional journalism training at universities.
Of course, pluralism should not mean that everyone works individually, each in their own bubble alongside one another. Debates bring different concepts and positions together. That is why we at Journalism Research offer a debate section in which controversial topics are discussed in a variety of ways: In edition 1/2018, multiple authors worked together to compile an article that compared divergent positions; in editions 1/2019 and 1/2021, we asked people to submit articles presenting controversial positions that were then contrasted; in edition 1/2020, the publishers presented their viewpoints – some the same, some very different – in a series of separate articles; in edition 2/2020, we positioned a response and counter-response directly after a controversial article.
In this edition, debate is the perfect name for the form we have chosen. Siegfried Weischenberg’s paper on alternative media criticism in edition 3/2021 resulted in the submission of three responses, without us specifically requesting them. Mandy Tröger, Alexis von Mirbach, and Florian Zollmann criticize Weischenberg’s criticism of media criticism from various perspectives and with a range of intentions. Having received such a wide range of criticism, Weischenberg is welcome to respond once again in the next edition.
According to Jürgen Habermas, who follows a long tradition of German idealism, reasonable understanding can and should lead to agreement. »According to its structure, an understanding of sense-making is directed towards potentially generating consensus among actors,« he said in his 1965 opening speech as Professor of Philosophy and Sociology in Frankfurt. If it is hard to imagine that the debate on alternative media criticism could lead to consensus, for example, this is in part due to the fact that controversy is currently being stoked by all sides’ conviction in their own reasonableness.
The kind of Anglo-Saxon pragmatism demonstrated by John Rawls in his theory of political liberalism sees pluralism in complex societies as the diversity of »mutually exclusive, yet still reasonable comprehensive doctrines.« This means that debates cannot and do not need to always lead to agreement, but merely to the reasonableness of other points of view being recognized, even if they differ from one’s own. Consensus is asking too much, tolerance or pained endurance too little. Respect is what holds pluralist social constructs together.
Our readers are warmly invited to draw their own conclusions on whether and to what extent the various debate pieces in this issue demonstrate respect for the opposing position, and to share their thoughts with us at email@example.com
Translation: Sophie Costella