Annika Sehl

Annika Sehl

  • University of Oxford
  • Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
Participant in 2009
Work history Annika Sehl is a Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. She is working on a project aimed at analysing media developments in several European countries, with a particular emphasis on digital media, news, and politics. Her primarily focus here is how public service media and state-owned media are developing across the countries covered. Her research interests include journalism, comparative research, audience research and research methods.

Annika Sehl Sehl comes from a position as post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Journalism, TU Dortmund University, Germany, where she also completed her doctorate. Furthermore, she has been a visiting professor of communication studies at the University of Hamburg. She holds a Diploma in Journalism from TU Dortmund University and spent an Erasmus semester at the University of Gothenburg.

She has taught courses mainly on journalism/journalism research, audience research and research methodology/methods at TU Dortmund University and the University of Hamburg. Furthermore, she was an adjunct lecturer e.g. at Leipzig School of Media and Hamburg Media School. Additional experience comes from one-week teaching assignments at the University of Gothenburg and the University of Ghent as part of the Erasmus mobility program for lecturers and from block courses at the Lomonossov University in Moscow.

In addition to her academic experience, Annika Sehl also has practical knowledge and skills in the field of journalism. She trained with the news broadcaster N24 in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, and she has also completed various internships at media organizations in Germany and abroad, such as at the German Television’s (ARD) studio in New York, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (nbc) in Windhoek or the German Press Agency (dpa) office in London.

For a complete overview over Annika Sehl’s research, please consult her personal website:
Study history see above

Phd Projects


Participatory Journalism - A Chance for Greater Diversity in Reporting?

While participatory journalism is on the increase in editorial offices, this new and relevant field remains underrepresented in current journalistic research. This PhD project examines the correlation between participatory journalism and diversity in the reporting of German newspapers. Traditionally, journalism has been associated with the media institutions and based on the work of professional journalists. They have acted as ‘gatekeepers’, claiming to be the only ones capable of deciding what the public needs to know according to professional routines and conventions (e.g. Shoemaker, 1991). In the past decade, new communication technologies like weblogs have enabled the members of the public to publish content for a potentially global audience (e.g. Gillmor, 2004). Institutional journalism has reacted to this development by integrating the audience into the process of content production (e.g. Domingo et al. 2008). From the perspective of pluralistic democracy theory, participatory journalism constitutes a new opportunity for greater diversity in reporting. A multiplicity of communicators with different backgrounds could succeed in covering issues neglected by professional journalists and adopting perspectives not yet represented in the public discourse. A positive correlation between participatory journalism and diversity in reporting is often assumed in research literature (e.g. Roessler, 2007), but up until now has not been scientifically proven. This project closes this gap in research. In particular, the study examines how participatory journalism influences diversity in reporting of German newspapers. The analysis is limited to local reporting on the basis that readers are more engaged in issues that concern their immediate surroundings. Additionally, the study analyzes whether the content, produced by readers, fulfils the journalistic quality criteria of relevance, as readers conceivably will enlarge diversity in reporting, but with issues of less relevance. In this case, participatory journalism does not necessarily contribute considerably to a comprehensive formation of opinion in a democratic society. Finally, this study investigates which criteria play a role in professional journalists’ selection of articles or photos of reader reports if, for example, only a few can be published in the newspaper. How do the professional journalists fulfill their role as gatekeepers? This question is important, since the answer influences the degree of diversity that is published in the newspaper and that can be realized by readers. The empirical study is based largely on content analysis. In order to select a sample, the first step is to investigate the status quo of German newspapers’ participatory journalism. Therefore, a quantitative full population survey among editors-in-chief of German newspapers will be conducted. The data of the content analysis is supplemented by qualitative interviews with professional journalists responsible for participatory journalism. The empirical findings are theoretically embedded in the concept of diversity (e.g. Schatz and Schulz, 1992) as well as the theory of discursive journalism (e.g. Brosda, 2008).

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