Mundus Journalism is holding a pre-conference at ECREA

The 9th European Communication Conference (ECC) by ECREA will be hosted 19th – 22nd of October 2022 in Aarhus (Denmark) and has the theme ‘Rethink Impact’. Mundus Journalism is holding a Pre-conference around the theme Journalistic Challenges in a Global Perspective on Wednesday the 19th of October (14:00-18:30).

The 9th European Communication Conference (ECC) by ECREA will be hosted 19th – 22nd of October 2022 in Aarhus (Denmark) and has the theme ‘Rethink Impact’. Mundus Journalism is holding a Pre-conference around the theme Journalistic Challenges in a Global Perspective on Wednesday the 19th of October (14:00-18:30).

Venue: “Store mødelokale” (room 126 building 1330), Department of Political Science, Aarhus University.
Contact: Dr. Andreas Schuck,, +31 630491653

WELCOME (14:00-14:15): Welcome by the Chair of the Mundus Board of Studies, Dr. Sheets-Thibaut

PANEL 1 (14:15-15:45):
Chair: Dr. Henrik Bødker (Chair of the Mundus Board of Studies, 2016-2019)

Kait Bolongaro
Media and the Mainstreaming and Pariahing of the Populist Radical Right: A Methodology

Kostiantyn Yanchenko
Stories about “Us” and “Them”: An Experimental Inquiry into the Relative Appeal of Populist Narratives

Dechun Zhang
Chinese Popular Nationalism: Nationalists Competition on Weibo about the Red Cross Scandal during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Fabíola Ortiz
Revealing spaces of agency: journalists’ narratives of conflict and peacebuilding


SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATION STRATEGIES (16:00 – 16:45): Prof. Thomas Hanitzsch (LMU Munich)

PANEL 2 (17:00 – 18:15):
Chair: Dr. Penny Sheets-Thibaut (Chair of the Mundus Board of Studies, 2019-)

Scott A. Eldridge II
Rethinking metadiscourse: Public discussions of (counter)journalism and (counter)publics

Sandra Banjac
Disrupted consensus and conformity in the audience-journalist relationship

Nathalie Weatherald
‘Reinventing the blurry oval’: Journalists’ perceptions of the benefits and limitations of the use of AI
technologies to digitally disguise anonymous sources

CLOSING (18:15 – 18:30): Dr. Morten Brænder (Vice-Chair of the Mundus Board of Studies, 2019-)


Kait Bolongaro
Media and the Mainstreaming and Pariahing of the Populist Radical Right: A Methodology
This paper formulates a methodology to examine the role of mainstream news outlets in
mainstreaming/pariahing of populist radical right political parties (PRRPs) by assessing media coverage of PRRPs. The methodology builds upon three pillars of literature to design the model.First, it draws on work found in political science, discourse studies, and communication studies that deals with what has been called the ‘mainstreaming’ (Brown & Mondon, 2021; Buarque, 2021; Mondon & Winter, 2020;) and the ‘pariahing’ (Van Spanje & Van Der Brug, 2007) of the populist radical right. In work on mainstreaming/pariahing, researchers consider how media actors have a significant role to play in casting radical right parties as either legitimate, and as such mainstream, or as illegitimate, a pariah to be excluded from the mainstream political landscape (Moffitt, 2021; Schmidt, 2020).The second body of literature draws from research examining the role of media in boundary maintenance between the mainstream and the fringe, and between the acceptable and the unacceptable within a democracy. The media’s critical role in democracy means studying their coverage becomes key to determining the role they play in defining, maintaining or altering the boundaries of what is acceptable in the political landscape (Mudde, 2017; Pytlas, 2018). This paper primarily considers Hallin (1986)’s notion of different ‘spheres’ of coverage, in particular his argument that in covering what he calls the ‘sphere of deviance’ journalists leave aside the objective stance typical of their coverage of the ‘sphere of legitimate controversy’ to condemn or exclude what they consider deviant political actors who reject and challenge the political consensus of appropriateness. Thirdly, it draws from the tradition of qualitative content analysis to uncover the underlying patterns present in the coverage, to describe them and break them down into meaningful categories(Patton, 2002).It puts forward a model to identify a shift in the coverage i.e.,the mainstreaming and/or pariahing process and the shift over time. It proposes a model that could be adapted to different political, social and economic constructs. The aim is to provide insight into the role of the media in mainstreaming/pariahing parties that belong to the populist radical right political family, and the power the media wields over the narrative surrounding these political parties and their inclusion and/or exclusion in the political sphere.

Kostiantyn Yanchenko
Stories about “Us” and “Them”: An Experimental Inquiry into the Relative Appeal of Populist Narratives

Populist parties and individual politicians have recently been gaining substantial electoral support in
diverse political and culturalcontexts (Norris & Inglehart, 2019). Oftentimes, their growing success is
ascribed to the ability to craft universally comprehensible and highly appealing political narratives
(Casullo, 2020; Freistein & Gadinger, 2020; Yanchenko, 2021). At the same time, it is known from the
literature that not only politicians but also journalists and other media actors sometimes utilize
storytelling to spread populist messages (Krämer, 2014; Mazzoleni, 2008) or even do that
unconsciously when reporting (Wettstein et al., 2018). While we already have some evidence on how
recipients' emotions and cognitions are affected by short genres, such aselectoral posters (Wirz,
2018) or news items (Hameleers et al., 2019; Hameleers et al., 2021), we know almost nothing about how populist framing influences the persuasive potential oflongernarratives, such as, for instance,
journalistic features. Acknowledging the increasing prevalence of long-form journalism (van Krieken,
2019) and the ongoing transformations of political communication culture (Esser & Strömbäck, 2014),
this articles aims to fill this gap by examining the relative appeal of populist narratives.To that
end,amulti-message experiment was conducted among U.S. citizens (N = 206) to compare how
populist and non-populist journalistic stories affect narrative transportation—a psychological
state strongly associated with narrative enjoyment. To ensure the external validity of the experiment, actual journalistic features were used as stimuli. The results show that populist framing significantly increases the ability of narratives to cause transportation, controlling for the political partisanship and populist predispositions of the participants. This effect is mediated by the identification with story characters andfeelings of anger and anxiety. The positive impact of populist framing extends
to the story-consistent attitudes of the participants, suggesting a parallel–serial mediation model.The study enhances our understanding of psychological responses to populist storytelling and
testifies that populist narratives represent an effective and flexible tool of political communication. Journalistic stories told in a populist way owe their increasing appeal to simplifying socio-
political reality, constructing black-and-white characters and pushing them against each other, and stimulating anger and anxiety in recipients. Furthermore, when contained in journalistic stories rather than in explicitly political texts, populist elements are not recognized as such by recipients,
meaning that their persuasive potential “gets under the radar of [people’s] efforts to protect [their]
attitudes” (Dal Cin et al., 2004, p. 178). 

Dechun Zhang
Chinese Popular Nationalism: Nationalists Competition on Weibo about the Red Cross Scandal during
the Covid-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus, which first broke out in Wuhan, China, has already affected worldwide. The Covid-19
pandemic exerts a long-term influence in shaping the world’s political and cultural future. Bieber (2020)
notes that the Covid-19 outbreak triggers psychological consequences of collective anxiety and leaves
political and social outcomes that strengthen exclusionary nationalism. Woods, et al. (2020) find that
nationalism is on the rise in many countries and China is not an exception. Previous studies find that
Chinese Internet users also taunted some Western countries’ poor performance and highlight the
superiority of the Chinese political system (Zhao, 2020; Peng et al., 2020; Kloet et al., 2020), however, the Chinese government also has been severely criticized by domestic public for the early stage of handling the pandemic as it did not take the necessary measures to help control and eradicate the disease (Zhang & Bux Jamali, 2022). Han (2021) suggests that although Chinese popular nationalism demonstrate the tendency to support authoritarian rule in China, while there are no studies systematically examine how popular nationalism and regime support interact during a national scandal, especially in the digital age. Hence, this study aims to explore what are the dynamic associations among nationalism, attitude towards the scandal, and attitude towards the government. This study selected the Red Cross scandal, refers to the public voluntarily sent medical supplies and money to Red Cross to help Hubei's frontline medics, but those supplies remained in the warehouse that triggered the public's outrage (Yuan, 2020), which trigger heated debate on social media (Ma, 2020). Overall, this study finally had 21,671 Weibo (Chinese twitter) posts regarding the Red Cross scandal. The study further conducts a quantitative content analysis and discourse analysis. This study finds that nationalism was a catalyst of the public’s tolerance of the Wuhan Red Cross’s management of the scandal. However, the event offered people the opportunity to demonstrate their dissatisfaction by participating in the nationalist discourse. Hence, even nationalists were angry about the Red Cross scandal. Although they were the most likely to have a pro-regime attitude, some of the people who demonstrated a more critical attitude towards government also exhibited a strong sense of nationalism. Overall, this study argues that the interplay of technology and politics provides favourable conditions for nationalists to express and exchange opinions and to mobilise nationalist emotion. Thus, popular nationalism has become a type of Pandora’s box with diverse potential consequences.

Fabíola Ortiz
Revealing spaces of agency: journalists’ narratives of conflict and peacebuilding
The role of agency that journalists play in conflict environments involves understanding the
nuances of journalism practices. The channelling of communication between different (at times
conflicting) sides, educating, identifying underlying interests, and listening to grievances are some
elements of conflict transformation that media may foster (Howard, 2004, 2009), and that journalists
themselves may embody. By asking “How do journalists’ narratives reveal their spaces of agency in
contexts of conflict and peacebuilding?”, this paper draws from a fieldwork in the Central African Republic –a country with a peacekeeping mission and where a peace accord was signed in early 2019 in the hope to disarm fourteen armed groups that control over 80% of the territory. It is part of a larger PhD research that interviewed forty journalists working in the country’s two main radio stations –Radio
Ndeke Luka and Radio Guira. The former is run by a Swiss based NGO and the latter is a United Nations media. Narratives allow the ‘present’ to be ‘situated’ in time and be ‘symbolised’ through a frame (Certeau, 1992). As an attempt to replicate lived experience, narratives are ways in which humans construct a sense of who they are in relation to the world (Park, 2005). The notion of agency refers not only to the intentions actors have but their capability of doing things (Giddens, 1984). Spaces of agency occur in a ‘fluid structural environment’ (Kappler, 2014)pointing to actors’ abilities to challenge and transform surrounding structures. These spaces manifested through the way journalists narrated their experiences and their decision making during the period of the crisis of widespread violence in the country (2013-2014) and in the present time (2019-2021).The understanding that radio could serve as a safe space for channelling different perspectives on conflict, how it could be transformed, and offer prospects for peacebuilding are among the preliminary findings. The journalists’ accounts embrace ideas of the radio as serving as early warning and as a tool to change the rhetoric of the conflict. The notion of reconciliation, responsibility and an imagined future for the country were also expressed. Their narratives account for courage against intimidation from armed groups and government, but also for caution when suspending certain live programmes to avoid the spread of hate speech. This study renders insights about the spaces where journalists exercise their agency in these contexts and their connection to peacebuilding strategies.

Scott A. Eldridge II
Rethinking metadiscourse: Public discussions of (counter)journalism and (counter)publics
Journalism is indebted to a public. Sometimes uneasily, sometimes begrudgingly, but nevertheless indebted. And so, journalists make the case for their work in public and by appealing to a public they imagine as their own (Conboy and Eldridge, 2017). Publics, however, are not strictly speaking indebted to journalism, not all publics at least and not if we’re being honest about the many ways people access information online (Broersma, 2019). This is not new, but it might be newly problematic considering the ways it plays out online, when paired with questions of ‘democratic backsliding’ and when considering political, ideological, and cultural fragmentation tied to some peripheral journalistic actors (Eldridge, 2019). With these concerns in mind, this paper re-examines the way we think about journalism not only within a relationship with the public, but as a relationship established publicly. Within democratic theory, the journalism-public relationship is promoted as necessary for a healthy
society, and a means by which “citizens talk with one another” (Dahlgren, 2005: 149). However,
liberal theoretical approaches to this relationship often favor a certain kind of journalism, a certain kind of dialogue, and a certain kind of (often singular) public (Wahl-Jorgensen, 2019). Online, the ways journalism is defined on the edges of the field and the ways publics form through these media no longer follow this model (if they ever did) (Eldridge, 2018), and so we might alternatively see this relationship playing out between publics that are varied, fragmented and counter-, reflected in content from equally varied, fragmented, and contrarian media (Holt, 2018). Focusing on digital, peripheral, political media, this paper examines how journalism is constituted online through metajournalistic discourses (Carlson, 2016). It draws first from a meta-analysis of metajournalistic research (N= 44) to show research of definitional ‘journalistic talk’ has focused primarily on elite discourses within legacy media and even more elite trade press. This overlooks a robust dialogue about journalism taking place within alternative spaces that (in)form counterpublics (Warner, 2002). Second, a historic diachronic textual analysis of metajournalistic discourses within alternative political media in the US and UK across ten years (N=260), during and outside periods of heightened democratic talk shows how this relationship has evolved. This paper highlights both the narrowness to which metajournalistic discourses as a marker of this relationship and a form of ‘journalistic’ talk has been understood, alongside its potential for scholars for examining the shifting contours of (counter-)journalism and (counter-)public relationships online

Sandra Banjac
Disrupted consensus and conformity in the audience-journalist relationship
The audience-journalist relationship has changed in the digital age. Through various feedback
mechanisms (reader comments, web-analytics) audiences can now react to news and communicate their expectations of journalists on an unprecedented scale. Simultaneously, journalism is competing for audiences’ attention within an information-rich news-media landscape, compounding ongoing economic insecurity. As such, journalists are arguably beholden to audiences’ needs and wants, and face pressures to adapt their work and how they think about their work – their role conceptions.
To explore this shifting relationship, this paper draws on role theory – a relatively underused
theory in journalism studies – and its central argument that roles and expectations shape one another (Biddle 1979). Conceptually rich, it offers a novel and nuanced perspective on the nature of the audience-journalist relationship. Based on qualitative, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 48 political and lifestyle journalists, and eight audience focus groups totaling 57 participants, this study triangulates different viewpoints: journalists’ role conceptions (how journalists think about their roles); journalists’ imaginations of audiences’ expectations (what journalists think audiences expect from them); and audiences’ actual expectations (what audiences say they expect from journalists).
Findings expose various levels of role-expectation consensus and conformity. Lifestyle journalists’
role conceptions were almost identical to their imaginations of audiences’ expectations and audiences’
actual expectations, demonstrating high role-expectation consensus and conformity. However, for
political journalists, a different picture emerges. Political journalists’ imaginations of their audiences’
expectations almost perfectly reflected their audiences’ actual expectations of them; however, these expectations (imagined or real) were not reflected in journalists’ role conceptions, demonstrating role-expectation dissensus and non-conformity. What these findings suggest is that audience feedback mechanisms seem to offer political and lifestyle journalists’ a relatively accurate idea of their audiences’ expectations. However, despite this awareness, political journalists’ role conceptions remain ideals ‘detached from reality’, unable or unwilling to conform to their audiences’ wants and needs. These findings raise questions about the extent to which journalists – confronted with
expectations stemming from various levels of the hierarchy of influences – can adapt their roles.
Conversely, how does this lack of conformity affect the future health of the journalist-audience relationship, and audiences’ perceptions of journalism’s societal relevance? This study focuses on journalists and audiences in South Africa, and argues its findings and theoretical contribution illustrate a dissonance in the audience-journalists relationship observable across journalism cultures. It contributes to a growing agenda to de-contextualize knowledge production (Cheruiyot and Ferrer-Conill 2020), and outlines a conceptual path for future studies. 

Nathalie Weatherald
‘Reinventing the blurry oval’: Journalists’ perceptions of the benefits and limitations of the use of AI
technologies to digitally disguise anonymous sources

In 2020, the feature-length documentary Welcome to Chechnya (2020, d. David France) pioneered a novel approach to source anonymisation in documentary filmmaking: its participants were disguised using full-face ‘digital masks’, created with generative adversarial networks (GANs). The method offered an innovative solution to a longstanding challenge in documentary film and video journalism: how to depict a source whose identity must be fully protected, while preserving the emotive detail of their testimony. The purpose of this explorative study was to determine documentary creators’ and video journalists’ (practitioners’) perceptions of the benefits and harms of the use of AI technologies such as GANs or deepfakes in comparison to legacy methods of anonymisation, such as silhouettes and pixelation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 practitioners working across continents in documentaries and in newsrooms, each of whom had previously worked with sources who requested to be anonymised. Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed that practitioners saw some benefits to the technology, particularly regarding the emotive detail. However, more salient were their concerns: regarding how to communicate the technology to the sources, the realities of access to sufficient resources to fully implement it, the support of supervising editors and commissioners and how the technology would further strain audiences’ trust in the credibility of journalistic content.