Sustainable Media Events? Production and Discursive Effects of Staged Global Political Media Events in the Area of Climate Change

Research question/goal: 

This project integrates two research perspectives on the emergence of cross-border media debates that have remained unconnected so far: research on the attention-grabbing characteristics of global media events on the one hand and research on longer-term shifts in the parameters of media debates on the other. Thus, the project investigates (a) how staged global political media events (i.e. the United Nations climate conferences in 2012 and 2013) are produced, and (b) which discursive effects these events have on national climate debates in the media of five leading democratic countries around the world, namely Germany, the U.S., India, South Africa and Brazil.

Module 1 of the project analyses the communicative production of the climate conferences via interviews and non-participant observation of central actors on site (communication professionals of government delegations and NGOs as well as journalists). The underlying hypothesis is that the climate conferences are co-produced by these actors in ways that temporarily suspend the adversary professional roles commonly assumed between them.

Module 2 investigates the possible discursive effects of the climate conferences by way of a large-scale multi-modal comparative media content analysis, looking particularly at the extent of cross-references between the five countries and possible convergences in actors’ issue framing, visual framing, and narrative features of news reports. The underlying assumption here is that the climate conferences drive national media debates in the same direction.

Current stage: 

Data collection for both modules has been completed and data analysis is well under way. In module 1 we have identified four types of coproduction networks involving NGO communication professionals and journalists, which influence the way climate conferences are presented in the media. In module 2 we were able to empirically detect overarching multimodal news frames for the first time that offer particular perspectives on the issue of climate change by characteristically combining textual and visual elements. Further data analysis will focus on (a) including state delegations in coproduction analysis, (b) analysing narrative features of media content, and (c) linking production and media content data.

Fact sheet

2012 to 2016
Data Sources: 
Quantitative media content data und qualitative interview data (own data gathering)
Geographic Space: 
Germany, U.S., India, South Africa, Brazil



Wessler, Hartmut, and Michael Brüggemann (2012): Transnationale Kommunikation: Eine Einführung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. more