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Journalism under Duress: Risk and Uncertainty in a Changing Mediascape

Journalism under Duress: Risk and Uncertainty in a Changing Mediascape

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

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.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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Project Description

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.

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 re-cording and handling of survey data), which allows for a close comparison across countries.

Project Information


Duration: 2021-2023

Research programme:
RP1 - Transformation of Public Communication

Third party

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG

Cooperation Partner

Prof. Dr. Thomas Hanitzsch, LMU Munich (Germany)
Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Wyss, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland)
Dr. Josef Seethaler, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Comparative Media and Communication Studies, Vienna (Austria)

Contact person

Prof. Dr. Wiebke Loosen
Senior Researcher Journalism Research

Prof. Dr. Wiebke Loosen

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 91
Fax +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 77

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