New Media and the Mediatization of Global Risks

Main researcher: Mikkel Fugl Eskjær

Global risks like industrial pollution, pandemics and global warming have become a defining feature of late modernity (Beck, 2007). Public risk perception depends on mediated information, partly due to the very nature of modern risks as perceptually "invisible" (e.g., a virus, nanotechnology, climate change). While traditional mass media (print media, television, cinema) represent the main source of public information on global risks, new media are increasingly providing new channels of information.
This project investigates how new media change the mediatization of global risks. The aim is to examine how changes in the media landscape (e.g., mobile media) and in media patterns (e.g., decreasing newspaper circulations) influence the representation and perception of global risks. The project will examine how three Danish news organisations (Politiken, BT and DR) present global risks on two new media platforms: (1) E-news (Internet based), which is already a primary medium among news consumers (Schrøder & Kobbernagel, 2010); (2) Mobile news (smart phones), which is a rapidly expanding news platform. It will focus on three research questions concerning:

  • how global risks are reported on new media platforms 
  • whether the interactive possibilities of new media (blogs, links, videos) add new sources to risk communication (e.g., un-official sources, NGOs)
  • whether the affordances of new media facilitate greater citizen involvement (blogs, commentaries, citizen journalism) and integration of life-world perspectives in public risk discourses

Methodologically, the investigation is based on a comparative content analysis (Krippendorff, 2004) of e-news, mobile news and traditional news products. On a theoretical level, the project contributes to the concept of mediatization in relation to risk and environmental sociology. The mediated nature of modern risks transcends earlier notions of mediatization as substitution and accommodation (Schulz, 2004) and points to mediatization as a fundamental condition for addressing and negotiating global risks.


Beck, U. (2007). Weltrisikogesellschaft. Auf der Suche nach der verlorenen Sicherheit. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.

Schrøder, K., & Kobbernagel, C. (2010). "Towards a typology of cross-media news consumption: a qualitative-quantitative synthesis". Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 115-137.

Krippendorff, K. (2004). Content Analysis. An Introduction to Its Methdology (2. ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Schulz, W. (2004). "Reconstructing Mediatization as an Analytical Concept". European Journal of Communication, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 87-101.