Final Papers at the Division Media Use Research

At the division Media Use Research it is possible to write bachelor and master theses within the division’s research focus. All issues concerning media use and effects as well as topics dealing with the digital change in the media at micro and meso level of the society (i.e. of organizations and citizens) are potential research areas. Furthermore, issues in the context of electoral campaigns and strategic political communication (especially with focus on digital media) are welcome.

Call for final papers

The division Media Use Research is looking for committed students planning to write their final paper (especially Master theses) on one of the following topics:

  • Dynamics in the media coverage of natural events: For authorities, insurance companies and private individuals, information on upcoming natural events are essential in order to take effective security measures and minimize damages. Experience gained over recent years has shown that media coverage of such events does not necessarily support civil protection: Some dangers are understated or exaggerated, some events overlooked or insufficiently categorized and explained. Factors responsible for differences in the coverage of comparable events (beyond classic news value factors) must be identified through content analysis. The role of online media for the distribution of information could be part of the study as well. The student will be supervised by the division of Media Use Research, in cooperation with the Department of Earth Sciences at the Institute of Meteorology.
  • Prognoses on the Digital society: Over the past two decades, there has been a large number of predictions about the opportunities of digitalization and its consequences for individuals and the society at large. The scientific community, as well as people working in business, politics and other fields have expressed various assumptions about the digital future. However, today we still don’t know how the digitalization of society will continue to develop in the upcoming five, ten or twenty years. To understand previous prognoses about the consequences of digitalization, they have to be assessed systematically. What exactly was predicted? Which announcements came true and which ones didn’t? Did the prognoses undergo any changes over the years? Which constants can be identified? These and many other questions can be examined in a standardized content analysis, optionally limited to certain areas such as politics, education, media use etc.

Apart from that, we are interested in final papers related to the DFG-project ‘Convergence of Television and Internet from the supply and use perspective’. 

  • The future of television: Not only people working in science or the technology industry are concerned with the convergence of television and internet. The new possibilities combining television and internet have frequently been the subject of reports in the mass media. The question arising is what society expects from this development. What are the frames related to this topic? Which problems are being addressed, which solutions are brought forth? These questions could be answered by a media content analysis.

  • Online pornography: The discussion about the consequences of an increased use of Video-on-demand services, the growing reception of moving image content in the web and the emergence of illegal video platforms is not a new one. The pornography industry, however, does not seem to be as challenged by these developments as television and production studios. The question is which conclusions can be drawn from the pornography industry for the convergence of television and internet. To answer this question in a final paper, supply and content analysis are the recommended methods as well as surveys and guided interviews.

  • Teletwitter: Teletexts have been considered as antiquated for a long time. With ‚teletwitter‘, that inserts editorially selected tweets through teletext into the ongoing television program, this apparently old institution is becoming innovative again. The editorial management of an otherwise unorganized phenomenon (e.g. Tatort-twittering) makes ‘teletwitter’ a unique phenomenon. At this point questions about a widespread participation via Twitter, about the editorial selection of the tweets and ultimately about use and evaluation by the viewers arise. For this research project, content analysis, surveys and guided interviews could be applied.

The following topics are recommendations for final papers related to the research focus “Digital Africa”. Further ideas within this research area are welcome. The division supports scholarship-applications for research stays in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

  • State of research on ICT penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa: New information and communication technologies (ICT) have been regarded as impellers of development in Sub-Saharan Africa , particularly in the light of the current “mobile-communications boom”. However, assured knowledge of lasting changes resulting out of new technologies are limited. Basic data on the availability and the application of ICT exist, but are highly fragmented. Against this background, the question arises what knowledge can be derived out of the current state of research. For example, what information does research provide about the ways ICT effect the social structure (regarding gender, marginalized groups etc.) in the region? A thorough review of the existing studies would provide an important groundwork for further research activities. English is the preferred language for this paper. The requirements for this paper can be adjusted to either bachelor or master standards.

  • Content analysis about coverage of refugees in German and Kenyan media: For many weeks it seemed as the refugee crises was the only topic in the German media. The humanitarian debacle was accompanied by a very emotional and polarized public debate, that was particularly coined by proponents of the so called “welcome culture” and the Pegida supporters. In sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya has been giving refuge to hundreds of thousands Africans due to the conflicts in neighboring Somalia and South Sudan. With 350.000 registered refugees, the refugee camp Dadaab at the border to Somalia is the biggest in the world. But have Kenyan journalists paid as much attention to this topic as their German colleagues? A content analysis could shed light on the similarities and differences in the national media coverage on refugees in both Germany and Kenya. A longitudinal design would provide particularly interesting information. In this context it could for instance be analyzed whether Islamist terrorism (the attacks in Paris, the massacre at the Kenyan university Garissa) affected the public media in the countries. English is the preferred language for this paper. This final paper topic is recommended for master students.

  • Case-Studies: ICT and development in Subsahara Africa: Whereas some innovative ICT applications in SSA, such as the mobile banking system MPesa or the crowdsource-platform Ushahidi, could draw some attention, others exist only in the shadows. For example, digital crowd-sourced mapping in slum areas remain underexposed in political communication studies, even though it must in the widest sense be seen as a type of political participation, and has been crucial for the empowerment of the population. By means of ICT the residents of the slums are taking responsibility for tasks the state cannot provide. Case studies may also be carried out in other fields such as Health, Governance or Business. A qualitative survey of people involved in specific projects could grant access to the organizational form and the performance of ICT projects in SSA. English is the preferred language for this paper. The requirements for this paper can be adjusted according to bachelor or master standards.

The amount of studies on all these topics is still quite limited. For a bachelor thesis we for instance recommend literature reviews on the state of research, for master theses explorative studies. Interested students can contact Prof. Dr. Martin Emmer, Marlene Kunst or Christian Strippel.

Please also read our manuals for bachelor and master thesis at our division.