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

Research question/goal: 

The 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 global climate summits 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 analyzes the communicative production of the climate summits 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 summits are co-produced by these actors in ways that temporarily undermine the adversary professional roles commonly assumed between them. Module 2 investigates the possible discursive effects of the climate summits by way of large-scale comparative media content analysis, looking particularly at the extent of cross-references between the five countries and possible convergences in issue framing. The underlying assumption here is that the climate summits drive national media debates in the same direction even though debate constellations are quite different at the outset.

Current stage: 

Data collection for module 1 of this project is finished. 62 semi-standardized interviews were conducted by the research team at the UN climate conferences in Doha 2012 and Warsaw 2013. For module 2 we are in the middle of coding the media material. One methodological paper was submitted for publication and is currently under review, two other papers with first results are being finalized for submission. One of these was presented at the 2013 International Communication Association conference in London, the other one was submitted for the ICA conference 2014.

Fact sheet

2012 to 2015
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