Dear Readers:

With this issue we are turning our lens toward gaps and reckonings in journalism and journalism education in the United States, while also keeping our eyes trained on conflicts that remain a complex, saddening constant. In this regard Sigrun Rottmann is pleading for a better, more nuanced coverage of debates and crises that is balanced and strives toward solutions. Currently at least 55 conflicts are shaking the world, according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk (2024), and a record number of elections were/will be held in 2024 with more voters than ever heading to national polls worldwide (Ewe 2023), apart from many more regional ones. Rottmann offers principles of conflict-sensitive journalism that can be applied no matter where conflict takes place: (attack) wars across nation-state borders or internal polarization.

Speaking to the latter, Anna Lindner, Michael Fuhlhage, Keena Neal, and Kirby Phillips detail efforts toward reaching reconciliation over the problematic historical coverage of enslaved people and enslavement of seven U.S. newspapers. How can a painful past be accounted for among journalists? What needs to be done to make it right by the communities that were, and are, affected by news media’s mistakes and lapses? Which role can newsrooms play in the reflection and rehabilitation of their own institutional history? Lessons learnt may also sensitize to more critically analyzing coverage of current paradigms that have made every attempt to become naturalized – and may only be able to be problematized with some distance.

Robert McMahon here takes a deep dive to deconstruct what reveals itself as »weightless criticism,« as he aptly describes it, of smart devices in U.S. news co­ver­age that end up making journalism seem naïve at best and at worst com­plicit in advancing the narrative of Big Tech that more data are always the solution, marching us toward a society increasingly suffused by surveillance technology and surveillance capitalism with few critical spaces left for effective push back. His paper challenges newsrooms to scrutinize their own role in failing to dismantle an inevitability myth that attempts to make any critic of solutionism via Big Data and AI appear a Luddite. Another alternative to the U.S. dominated tech juggernaut is offered by Leonhard Dobusch who argues to »move slow and build things« in contrast to the speedy breaking of anything in the way of Silicon Valley. He summarizes the many efforts already underway in German, and European, public broadcasting to create a digital ecosystem that goes beyond single public-service channels, but offers a logical extension toward more audience interaction and open-source collaboration, and ultimately a path toward a public European-based platformization model.

Shoring up the importance of the function of journalism to question what appears to be natural or what counts as progress of course needs to already start in journalism education. This entails that journalism professors and instructors face fair working conditions. Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver, Dorothy Bland, and Lillian Abreu provide a deep dive into the experiences of early career women faculty in journalism studies and mass communication, mostly in the United States, via a survey of participants in a mentoring program of the Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication at Florida International University. Their findings show participants face barriers for career advancement in the academy due to a lack of time for research, high service expectations, work/fam­ily/life tensions, and a lack of transparency around pay issues and salary equity. A stronger need for consistent mentoring emerged as an overarching theme.

What else was missing from the lens of critical journalism has been rounded up again by the project »Initiative Nachrichtenaufklärung« (INA) – the German sister initiative to the American »Project Censored.« Their Top Ten 2024 of neglected news in mainstream German-language media also include the lack of reporting on tech monopolies and the danger they pose to democracy as well as on how Google redefines boundaries. Moreover, the initiative points out the lack of coverage on the disaster of potholes in Germany, the double burden on children in migrant families between bureaucracy and schools, and scientific and medical issues.

In contrast, which issues journalists analyzed in detail in the form of book journalism is presented again by Fritz Hausjell and Wolfgang R. Langenbucher. They offer their Top Ten picks, ranking among the first three Evelyn Roll’s family story which she intertwines with profound insights into the state of the art of human brain research, Herbert Lackner’s history of Austria’s culture wars over the past 100 years, and Isabel Schayani’s deeply researched stories of five refugees, in which she demonstrates a solution-oriented journalism that is sensible to international and intra-national conflicts, as they will undoubtedly accompany us beyond 2024 no matter their numbers.

In this sense we wish you an inspiring reading time and invite further analyses and perspectives on reporting during times of conflict, crisis, and elections worldwide from journalists and communication and media studies researchers. Please submit your manuscripts to: redaktion@journalistik.online

Stine Eckert

March 2024


Ewe, Koh (2023): The ultimate election year. All the elections around the world in 2024. In: Time, 28 December 2023. https://time.com/6550920/world-elections-2024/

Türk, Volker (2024): Türk’s global update to the Human Rights Council. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 4 March 2024. https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements-and-speeches/2024/03/turks-global-update-human-rights-council