Three questions for ... Jakob-Moritz Eberl


As part of the Horizon 2020 project "Role of European Mobility and its Impacts in Narratives, Debates and EU Reforms (REMINDER)", Jakob-Moritz Eberl and his colleagues have investigated migration-related media coverage in Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Spain and Hungary, using computer-assisted content analysis methods. A historical data set and a short-term data set are available in the AUSSDA Dataverse. We talked to Jakob-Moritz Eberl about these data.

What is the study about?

In the interdisciplinary EU project "REMINDER" several research institutions have worked together to better understand migration and mobility within Europe. Our team at the University of Vienna, in cooperation with colleagues from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, analyzed the media narratives of the years 2003 to 2018 in more than 50 print and online newspapers from seven countries.

In order to process those large amounts of data, we applied and further developed the state-of-the-art methodology of multilingual semi-automated text analysis. This has enabled us to more accurately determine the visibility of the migration discourse, its sentiment and its framing. We then created two datasets: First, a historical dataset that deals with media coverage from 2003-2017 and allows a dynamic investigation of the migration discourse over time. Second, a short-term dataset that deals with migration reporting between 2017 and 2018 and can serve as input for the panel survey of the same project.

What do you think is the most exciting aspect of the study? Were there any surprising results?

Probably the most exciting aspect of our work relates to the methodological challenges we faced. Country comparisons, multilingualism, automated data collection and data analysis - each of these aspects is a challenge in itself. In this project, we tackled all four of these critical factors at once. A first publication dealing with these issues was published in the International Journal of Communication.

Concerning content, we know from some previous case studies, for example, that migration reporting tends to focus on the negative. Migration is often presented as a threat to the domestic economy, the welfare state, the labour market, security or the majority culture. We now see this in our data in seven European countries and over a longer period of time. In conservative media, such patterns are even more evident.

Why did you decide to make the data freely accessible?

Content analysis data is still far too rarely shared in the scientific community. However, we know that media discourse can have an impact on attitudes in the population and on decisions in politics. Media affect the way people act and think. It is therefore important that we learn to understand them better. To understand these discourses, we need more and better data, and this data must be made freely available to the broadest possible public. Only together we can create scientific progress in this field.


Jakob-Moritz Eberl (Photo: Michael Winkelmann)