Julia Lück, Antal Wozniak, Hartmut Wessler
Networks of Coproduction: How Journalists and Environmental NGOs Create Common Interpretations of the UN Climate Change Conferences

International Journal of Press/Politics, 2016: 21, Heft 1, S. 25-47
ISSN: 1940-1612 (print); 1940-1620 (online)

This study examines the interrelations between journalists and communication practitioners from environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Taking the annual United Nations climate change conferences as a case in point, we show that the exceptional circumstances of these events foster a temporary blurring of the professional boundaries between both actor groups that partly results in a joint production of interpretations. Based on seventy-eight semistandardized interviews with journalists and NGO representatives, we identify four distinct coproduction networks that pair particular types of journalists and NGO communicators. Our analysis shows that (1) the journalistic beat, (2) the type of media journalists work for, (3) journalists’ and NGOs’ perceived target audiences, and also (4) the NGOs’ strategic orientation toward either lobbying or popular mobilization are decisive for the formation of these networks. Our study helps to systematically explain message production in a transnational context and provides a deeper understanding of the relationship between journalism and public relations.