The IMC Research Lab – Research Center for International Public Media

Due to the advancement of the Chair of Journalism and Communication Studies at the University of Hamburg, a first-class integration of theory and practice at the International Media Center is assured. The IMC therefore plays a decisive role: Here is where the knowledge about media systems in other countries, which forms the basis for the success of the IMC’s International Media Programs, is established.

The Chair of Journalism and Communication Studies has an excellent international reputation, acquired through research projects in the fields of journalism research and communication science in particular. The representative study “Journalism in Germany” explored, which players produce the journalistic information, what sort of characteristics German journalists exhibit as well as the conditions under which they work. The results of the project gained a lot of interest not only in scientific circles but also in practical ones. The study created a basis for detailed international comparative journalism studies.

The chair was likewise in charge of the research project “Contours of Current Media Communication”, which contributed to a better understanding of the transformative processes in the media system. It was a detailed and methodically diverse exploration of the peripheral areas of journalism to see what the future of contemporary media communication might look like. In particular, it analyzed genre-specific hybridizations, forms of media, stakeholders’ roles and the borders between journalism and public relations.

The international comparative journalism research at the IMC Media Lab focuses on two skill areas. The first compares the development of journalism, publicity and social change domestically and abroad. The second examines — also in a transnational comparison — contemporary journalistic communication processes in the context of political communication and public diplomacy.

The scientific research is linked directly with the IMC International Media Programs. In individual research assignments, the students become acquainted with the scientific methods and are taught how to analyze their collected data, how to interpret it and how to organize it in relation to their research. Assessing data, evaluating expert opinions, obtaining proposals for their own research projects — the IMC staff teaches all of these skills to the scholars as well as to the students from the University of Hamburg.

The staff research projects reflect the full spectrum of international media and communication research. In the past the studies focused mostly on topics such as journalism research, newsroom research, scandal research, recipient research, media ethics and questions of the fields of political communication and confidence research.

Under the direction of Prof. Dr. Siegfried Weischenberg, the following research projects have been carried out in the past, among others:

  • Inter- and Intratransaction in the Media Effects Process
    Examination of the Adjustment Process in Cognitive Systems of Communicators and Recipients in Local Elections:
    Four-part question panel of readers and journalists from three newspapers (around 4,000 interviews), content analysis (around 16,600 articles) (1984-1989, m. K. Schönbach, fieldwork: Emnid; sponsorship by the DFG on the subject of “News Media Effects”)
  • Skills and Technology (KoTec) journalism education for the information society
    Examination of Technology-Induced Social Changes and Their Consequences in Communications Processes in the FRG:
    Literature research, telephone interviews of media corporations, content analysis of help-wanted ads, Delphi opinion polls of media experts (3 phases) (1987-1991; sponsorship by the DFG)
  • Innovation and Investment
    International Comparison of the Circumstances of Newspaper Publishers:
    Literary evaluation, guideline conversations, written interviews (1991-1993; Project II.5b in the “Economics and the Future of Print Media” research program of the Austrian Ministry of Science)
  • Journalism in Germany (JouriD)
    Definition and Evaluation of News Media: headcount survey of the news media, representative opinion polls of 1,498 journalists in East and West Germany (1991-1994, fieldwork: GFM/Getas; sponsorship by the DFG)
  • The Contours of Contemporary Media Communication (KaMkom)
    Differentiation and Dedifferentiation of Specific Structure Benefits of Journalism in the Information Society:
    Comparative secondary analysis, expert interview (Italy, Switzerland), guideline interviews, input/output analysis, content analysis, observation (2000-2002; sponsorship by the DFG)
  • Journalism in Germany (JouriD II)
    Definition and Evaluation of the News Media: headcount survey of the news media, representative opinion polls of 1,536 journalists (2003-2007, m. A. Scholl, fieldwork: Ipsos; sponsorship by the DFG)

In addition, a current research project of the IMC Media Lab titled, “On the Trail of Max Weber: Inventory of Empirical Journalism Research 1910-2010″ examines the emergence and the development of international journalism research, which has established itself as a scientific discipline since Weber’s working draft for an “Inquiry of the Press”.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Siegfried Weischenberg

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