New project "Journalism under Duress"


Starting in Spring 2021, Folker Hanusch will be part of new cross-border project, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

"Journalism under Duress: Risk and Uncertainty in a Changing Mediascape" is the full title of the upcoming research project involving Folker Hanusch. Alongside Josef Seethaler (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna), Folker will carry out the main tasks of the project in Austria as national research partner. The project is designed as a cross-border cooperation between Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH region). In addition to Josef Seethaler and Folker Hanusch, the renowned colleagues Thomas Hanitzsch (Department of Media and Communication, LMU Munich) and Wiebke Loosen (Leibnitz Institute for Media Research, Hans-Bredow-Institute, Hamburg) will work on the project in Germany, while Vinzenz Wyss (Institute of Applied Media Studies, Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, Winterthur) will be responsible for the research in Switzerland.

Content: The project investigates risks and uncertainties journalists are facing in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as around the globe. Its aim is to better understand the ways in which journalism adapts to and copes with different levels of risk and uncertainty in the three countries and in different political, socio-economic, and cultural contexts. The major goal of the study is to compare results across the three German-speaking countries as well as across a wide range of societies, to trace developments over time, and to identify key factors that drive cross-national differences in the way journalists conceive of, and deal with, risk and uncertainty. In addition, the project continues efforts to track the state of journalism in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as the situation of journalism around the world, as was the case in previous waves of the Worlds of Journalism Study.

Conceptually, we understand risks and uncertainty in journalism as a complex and dynamic relationship between sources of risk (areas of threats), forms of risk (manifestations of risk), and perceptions of risk by journalists (areas of uncertainty). We study risks as primarily emanating from four contexts: politics, economy, technology, and culture. They have the power to generate significant uncertainty among journalists, news organizations, and within the institution of journalism as a whole. We focus on journalists’ perceptions of risks in seven key areas: editorial autonomy, influences on journalism, journalistic roles, journalistic epistemologies, professional ethics, safety of journalists, and conditions of labor.

The proposed project has two components: (1) a regional focus on Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and (2) a global-comparative focus. With the regional focus, the study aims to assess and compare journalists' perceptions of risk in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. With the global-comparative focus, the project aims to compare the state of journalism around the world and trace changes in journalists' perceptions over time and across different cultural contexts.

In each country, we conduct surveys of two groups of journalists: a main sample of professional mainstream journalists, and (as an effort to better represent areas of transformation in journalism) a secondary sample of peripheral actors who operate at the margins of journalism. Journalists are surveyed based on a unified methodological framework (including a common questionnaire along with instructions for defining populations, constructing samples, selecting respondents, conducting interviews as well as proper recording and handling of survey data), which allows for tight comparison across countries.

Image © Folker Hanusch