Graduate School of North American Studies (GSNAS)
I am currently working as a lecturer and postdoctoral fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute’s (JFKI) Department of Politics at the Freie Universität Berlin, where I received my doctoral degree in 2015. My thesis was written on right-wing media in the US and its impact on the framing of foreign policy.
I have taught BA and MA-level courses at the JFKI’s political science department, which focused on the transformation of the US media environment and it’s impact on American as well as global politics.
In the Fall of 2013 I spent time as a visiting scholar at the George Washington University’s School of Media & Public Affairs in Washington D.C.
In 2010 I received my Magister degree from the University of Bonn’s North American Studies Program. My M.A. thesis dealt with the impact of theories and ideas that shaped the American neoconservative movement after the end of the Cold War.
My main research interests include:
US media & politics; shifting modes of journalism & political communication; theories of press-state relations; frame theory; politicization & polarization processes in mediated discourse; US conservatism; and the history of US foreign policy.
Cyberspace and Emerging Clusters of Politicization:
Explaining the Dynamics and Tracing the Expansion of Online Frame Competition
One of the most striking features of the digital era has been the massive growth of communication channels and accessible sources of information. This has brought about rapid changes affecting broad spectrums of social interaction and dynamics of political communication: The main sites of frame competition – manifestations of political preferences offering various ways of interpreting and constructing the world – have shifted to the online environment. Processes of selective exposure and perception, reinforced by algorithms and social media structures, lead to forms of data filtering and segmentation. Meanwhile, the notion of a unitary public as the addressee of information seems increasingly outdated, while enclaves emerge within society, potentially leading to increased fragmentation and political polarization via the emergence of novel forms of subsidiary public spheres. My postdoctoral research agenda seeks to explore emerging dynamics of politicization within such forms of online discourse, manifesting themselves through network activation and political framing processes. It will encompass various case-specific research projects focused on instances of highly politicized topics of contention. The primary goal is to edge out a methodological approach, which can draw on previously established theories of press-state relations as well as public sphere and digital communication literature. These will be tied together through the central aspect of politicization, which would herein be conceptualized as an observable instance of intense frame competition. As such, the research agenda will be geared towards the question of how various competing frames are activated and come to spread within a globally accessible media environment. Addressing this question will allow for a deeper understanding of how, in the era of increasingly accessible media environments, factors of politicization might transcend national boundaries as well as how traditional institutions. As part of this agenda, I plan to conduct research focused primarily on two sets of cases: The first will be focused on the dynamics of frame competition taking place via the website Wikipedia, as a globally accessible site of knowledge accumulation. A second project will investigate frame activation and transnational spread across various online media platforms in regard to the controversial transatlantic free trade agreement TTIP.
Media Fragmentation, Conservatism, and the Framing of US Foreign Policy
This dissertation project investigates the state of news media fragmentation in the U.S. and in regard to the framing of U.S. foreign policy. It tests the assumption of whether an explicitly conservative form of news production would lead to significant differences in the projection of reality concerning foreign events when compared to mainstream sources of news or debates among policy elites. To do so, empirical cases were selected which were marked by high levels of ambiguity – in order to allow for stark variation in the projection of reality – as well as high levels of politicization – to test for the specific impact of conservative ideology. These cases included the issue of anthropogenic climate change in the lead up to the Copenhagen Accord, the Honduran constitutional crisis of 2009, as well as the publication of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2011 and subsequent media coverage of the Iranian nuclear program. A frame analysis using quantitative and qualitative data analysis software revealed that while framing by conservative and mainstream media did vary significantly in all three cases, contrasts between the two forms of news production were not as stark as some of the assumptions concerning the state of media fragmentation may have predicted, nor were they always coherent among various conservative outlets. Furthermore, the amount of interpretative leeway offered via conservative media for projecting a specific version of reality fluctuated and appeared dependent upon specific policy preferences.
„Die Medien in den USA: Vierte Gewalt oder politischer Akteur?“ In: Handbuch Politik USA. Eds. Lammert, Christian; Vormann, Boris; Siewert, Markus. Springer Verlag, Wiesbaden 2015.
“Counting on the American Public to be Informed on the TTIP/TAFTA Talks? Don’t Hold Your Breath”. In: The Transatlantic Colossus: Global Contributions to Broaden the Debate on The EU-US Free Trade Agreement. Eds. Cardoso, Daniel; Mthembu, Philani; Venhaus, Marc; Verde Garrido, Miguelángel. Berlin 2014.
“Dealing with a Nuclear Iran: Focusing on ‘Known Unknowns’ (Still) Makes for Poor Policy”. Atlantic-Community.org, available online at: http://www.atlantic-community.org/-/dealing-with-a-nuclear-iran-focusing-on-known-unknowns-still-makes-for-poor-policy. December 12, 2013.
„Widerstand gegen die ‚Rüstungsforschung‘ — Verteidigungsministerium finanziert FuE-Projekte an deutschen Hochschulen.“ In: Wissenschaftsmanagement – Zeitschrift für Innovation 17, Heft 4. Juli/August 2011.
„Transparenter Lobbyismus…!? Spielräume und Grenzen der Interessensvertretung.“ In: Wissenschaftsmanagement – Zeitschrift für Innovation 16, Heft 6. November/December 2010.
Ideen, die die Welt verzerren – Das Machtstreben der US-amerikanischen Neokonservativen nach 1989. Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2010.
Conference Talks & Paper Presentations
“Making News Right – Conservative Media and the Construction of Reality.” Paper presented at annual meeting of political scientists of the German Association of American Studies (DGfA), in Lambrecht, Germany on November 15, 2014.
“Trustworthy Sources? Why the American Public Increasingly Distrusts the News Media. ” Paper presented at the Seventh International Conference of the Graduate School for North American Studies, FU Berlin in May 2014.
„Polarized News? Die Medien im politischen System der USA.“ Lecture held at the annual Summer School of the Atlantic Academy in Lambrecht, Germany on
August 6, 2013.
“Obama and the Media: Political Communication in Fragmented Media Environments”. Paper presented at the annual meeting of political scientists of the DGfA, in Lambrecht, Germany on November 9, 2012.
“Global Network Media: A New World Order or A New Form of US Hegemony?” Paper presented at the University of Graz’s Tag der Politikwissenschaft - Annual meeting of the Austrian Political Science Association, November 29-30, 2012. [Ongoing working paper with Santino S. F. Regilme].
“Winning American Living Rooms – News Media Fragmentation and Public Views on War”. Paper presented at the Fifth International Graduate Conference of the Graduate School for North American Studies, FU Berlin on May 11, 2012.
“Cyberpolitics, Online Publics and the Power of the Net” – taught at the Freie Universität Berlin’s John F. Kennedy Institute during the Summer semester.
“Propaganda, Misinformation and Truth in American Politics” – taught at the Freie Universität Berlin’s John F. Kennedy Institute during the Winter semester.
“Perspectives on the Role of News Media in US Political Discourse” – taught at the Freie Universität Berlin’s John F. Kennedy Institute during the Summer semester.