Quality in times of transnationalization of public spheres. Comparing the quality of national and transnational media content
The PhD-project contributes to the research on transnationalization of public spheres by raising the question of media content quality.
Even though the issue of media quality is as old as the media themselves and has been examined under a multitude of concepts and conditions, the current process of transnationalization demands its reassessment.
The normative requirement of a transnationalization of public spheres has been formulated, following the ongoing expansion of political processes and decision making across national borders – for example the considerable increase of international cooperation and transnational integration.
Since the media serves as a forum for public discourse as well as an independent actor that through selection and commentary contributes to public debates, media coverage plays a crucial role in establishing a functioning public sphere. Thus, only by providing high quality media coverage on transnational politics, media can ensure the information and potential participation of citizens.
So far empirical research has focused on measuring the extent of transnational media coverage: Main results state a somewhat stable multisegmented transnationalization of media coverage. However, the quality of media coverage on transnational politics has not been the topic of extensive research. The few studies existing show a rather balanced and rational transnational media coverage. However, its extent and variety as well as the low level of references by and to members of the civil society are perceived critically. For all that, the interpretation of the findings proves difficult, since the quality of media coverage on national topics is not used as a benchmark and the operationalization of the quality-concept can be improved by a deeper theoretical foundation.
Thus the PhD-project offers an elaborate argumentation of how the quality of media coverage is linked to the process of the transnationalization of public spheres. Furthermore, an empirical concept for a quantitative analysis of the quality of national and transnational media coverage in German print media is developed. For this purpose the normative approach to media quality is appraised and an audience-centric view on quality is incorporated. The concept is further incorporated into the research on transnationalization of public spheres. Moreover, first results of the pretest illustrate the empirical design, the analysis model as well as the instrument to compare the quality of national and transnational media content.