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Pointing Fingers at the Media?

Coverage of the 2017 Bundestag Election

Alexander Beyer and Steven Weldon

The 2017 Bundestag election and the breakthrough of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) will likely long be remembered as a pivotal moment in German politics. One of the key questions in the aftermath of this breakthrough is what role the mainstream media played in this party’s success. Drawing on online data from the four largest German news outlets, Google-trend searches, and Twitter, we examine the media coverage landscape over the course of the election campaign, focusing on the coverage of the AfD relative to other parties and its key issues of immigration and Euroskepticism. Our results indicate that the AfD did indeed face a favorable media environment, especially in the final month of the campaign. Further analysis, however, suggests that the media was in many ways simply responding to public interest and demand—immigration, especially, was a highly salient issue throughout the campaign, something that was a significant departure from recent elections.

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Rachel Rosen and Sarah Crafter

This article analyzes coverage of separated child migrants in three British tabloids between the introduction of the Dubs Amendment, which committed to relocating unaccompanied minors to the UK, and the demolition of the unofficial refugee camp in Calais. This camp has been a key symbol of Europe’s “migration crisis” and the subject of significant media attention in which unaccompanied children feature prominently. By considering the changes in tabloid coverage over this time period, this article highlights the increasing contestation of the authenticity of separated children as they began arriving in the UK under Dubs, concurrent with representations of “genuine” child migrants as innocent and vulnerable. We argue that attention to proximity can help account for changing discourses and that the media can simultaneously sustain contradictory views by preserving an essentialized view of “the child,” grounded in racialized, Eurocentric, and advanced capitalist norms. Together, these points raise questions about the political consequences of framing hospitality in the name of “the child.”

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Marcus Otto

This article analyzes how the fundamental challenge of decolonization has resonated in history textbooks published in France since the 1960s. It therefore contextualizes textbook knowledge within different areas of society and focuses on predominant discourses that influenced history textbooks' (post)colonial representations in the period examined. These discourses encompass the crisis of Western civilization, modernization, republican integration, and the postcolonial politics of memory. The author argues that history textbooks have thus become media, as well as objects of an emerging postcolonial politics of memory that involves intense conflicts over immigration and national identity and challenges France's (post)colonial legacy in general.

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Simulating Events as They Happen

Spectacle, Ideology, and Readymade Boogeymen—The 2011 August Riots and the Media

Christian Garland

The 2011 August riots that combusted with the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, North London, (Laville, 2011; Vasagar, 2011) spread literally like wildfire to cities and towns across England in the space of a matter of hours. At the time, much was written about the supposedly ‘nihilistic’ and ‘opportunistic’ nature of the events, and how, unlike previous urban rebellions, they could not be considered to have any ‘political’ dimension, although there were some notable exceptions to such blanket dismissals, which were offered en bloc from even ‘radical’ quarters, not say media and academic ones. The article seeks to offer an analysis and critique of the media narrative of the events in English cities that August, with the aim of contributing to their demystification and better understanding, more than three years on. The article is written from a Marxist perspective, heavily drawing on Critical Theory and using content analysis and an ideological critique of the media to develop its argument. In the three years since the riots of 2011, the production of literature on those events has been fairly continuous, but largely oblivious to their significance, or just why they received such blanket and unequivocal condemnation. This article, in keeping with its origins as one of ‘the notable exceptions’ at the time makes an interrogative critique of the media’s part in ‘simulating events as they happen’.

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Challenging Substantive Knowledge in Educational Media

A Case Study of German History Textbooks

Lucas Frederik Garske

Many scholars working on history education have stressed that, in order to “do history,” a congruent relation between substantive and procedural knowledge is required. In response to this argument, this article emphasizes the need to consider pupils’ relations to substantive knowledge. With reference to history textbooks currently used in Germany, it demonstrates how the introduction of substantive knowledge with the help of the logic of “historical thinking” derived from expert discourses may obstruct the process of historical thinking. Finally, the article presents alternative approaches and their possible consequences for history education.

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"I Want My Boy Back!"

Substitute Sons and Damsels in Distress

Jeffery P. Dennis

Three recent mass media texts are analyzed in which the object of rescue for a male hero is a teenage boy rather than the traditional damsel in distress. These rescues and their aftermaths display considerable slippage between custodial and romantic conventions, blurring the image of the hero as father and the hero as lover. It is argued that their function is to evoke the possibility of same-sex desire while safely pretending that same-sex desire does not exist.

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Mobile Electronic Media

Mobility History at the Intersection of Transport and Media History

Heike Weber

This article takes the history of mobile electronic media as a vantage point from which to view a transformation in everyday Western mobility culture. It argues that mobile media technologies rather than transport technologies constitute today's guiding symbols of mobility whilst mobility itself is seen as going beyond physical movement. In the late twentieth century, its understanding has been broadened and now refers to the mere capacity to be ready for action and, thus, movement. This shift from movement to the potential to move can be observed in the material culture of mobile media. Initially designed to accompany travel, tourism or sport activities, portable radios or cell phones have been increasingly used in stationary or domestic settings, thereby challenging the Western dualisms of mobile/sedentary and public/private. On a methodological level, a focus on mobile media history involves merging the fields of media and transport history with the aim of arriving at a comprehensive mobility history.

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Mixed Message Media

Girls’ Voices and Civic Engagement in Student Journalism

Piotr S. Bobkowski and Genelle I. Belmas

Prior research has illustrated the benefits of media literacy and production programs for girls’ self-expression and civic engagement. This study examines whether formal high school journalism programs can be similarly beneficial. A survey of 461 high school journalists shows that girls want to use student media to address serious topics that can contribute to their civic development. But school employees also tell girls more often than boys not to cover sensitive issues in the student media, and girls are more likely than boys to acquiesce to such requests. Girls will not glean the full benefits of journalism education until such disparate treatment is addressed. Journalism educators and school administrators may profit from the feminist pedagogical approaches developed in out-of-school media-focused programs in which girls have demonstrated significant willingness to express themselves and are unencumbered to do so.

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Instrumentalising Media Memories

The Second World War According to Achtung Zelig! (2004)

Maaheen Ahmed

Krzysztof Gawronkiewicz and Krystian Rosenberg’s Achtung Zelig! recounts an unabashedly absurd story about the Second World War, involving an encounter between a Nazi commander who was a former clown and a Jewish father and son with monstrous faces. To understand the construction and function of the Polish comic’s narration of the war, this article introduces the concept of media memories. Such memories encompass techniques and works that ‘haunt’ cultural productions. Achtung Zelig! interweaves key media and contexts, layering its story through the media memories of carnivals, comics (e.g. Maus) and films (e.g. The Great Dictator). In instrumentalising media memories, the comic engages in a heavily mediated dialogue with the issue of representing traumatic realities.