Political Crisis Communication and its Representation in Legacy News Media

thumbnail of V22, MS51, Merle Sontheimer, v2

Purpose: The purpose of this case study is to add to research on crisis communication, accountability, and scandals in evaluating a German state Minister of Interior’s exoneration strategies through their representation in news media. Additionally, it aims to offer insights on German legacy news media’s treatment of a rightwing radicalist crisis and implications of its potential failures. The relevance of this study comes from its timeliness within the German ‘Einzelfall’-crisis, a series of publicized cases of right-wing radicalist affiliations in GED-agencies stylized as singular events, as well as from the lack of existing research on this topic.

Theory: Crisis Communication Theory, Image Repair Theory, Critical Discourse Analysis, Discursive News Value Analysis

Method: Critical Discourse Analysis, Qualitative Discourse Analysis

Result: Media representation of the scandal and crisis stages of this case successfully made ‘Causa Caffier’ a serious public issue. However, the individualization of the reporting–narrowed down just to Caffier–has to be regarded as a failure of
journalism to depict structural and systemic issues. In a parallel to historic blind spots surrounding GED-agencies’ (especially the police) entanglements with right-wing radicalist ideology and groups, German legacy news media, for the most part, represented the case as an individual moral transgression (i.e., a scandal) instead of a sign for a systemic crisis.

Merle Frederike Sontheimer
MKV, Masteruppsats , vt22
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