Which journalism has a future and relevance? How do innovations in journalism influence the quality of reporting and thus the public in democratic societies?
These are central questions posed by a new, large-scale research project that will investigate the development of journalism in Germany, Austria and Switzerland over a period of three years starting in autumn 2020. The research-teams are based at the Journalism Institutes of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Germany , the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland and the CMC-Institute at the Austrian Academy of Sciences / University of Klagenfurt as well as the research organisation Medienhaus Wien in Austria. The project is supported by the national research funds DFG, FWF and SNF. The project leaders Klaus Meier (D), Andy Kaltenbrunner and Matthias Karmasin (A) and Vinzenz Wyss (CH) describe: " We experience torn public spheres, fragmented democracies and so-called post-factual political discussions. These are great challenges. With practice-oriented basic research we want to analyse how innovations can advance professional quality journalism." Such innovations include, for example, investigative research teams, journalistic start-ups that finance their work through membership models, new forms of data journalism or the use of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube as sources, but also channels for interaction and distribution for independent journalism - with all the opportunities and risks that entails.
Several dozen case studies and expert panels in the German-speaking countries are planned, but also a comparison with Northern and Southern Europe and classification according to clearly defined innovation and quality criteria. The D-A-CH consortium is supported by the Spanish journalism researcher Jose García-Avilés and his team from Universidad Miguel Hernández/Valencia. The researchers there were among the first in the world to produce a scientifically sound, national journalism innovation ranking.
In total, more than a dozen scientists will be working on this project from autumn 2020. The research results are intended to provide international orientation and advice for media policy as well as for the organisation of media and editorial offices in order to promote innovations that strengthen the quality of journalism and its role in society.
Klaus Meier, KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
Vinzenz Wyss, Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften
José Alberto García Avilés, J. A., Miguel Hernández University, Elche
Colin Porlezza, City University of London