Building Empirical Typologies with QCA: Toward a Classification of Media Systems (2016)


Typologies are omnipresent both in everyday life as well as in the sciences. Epistemologically, there are several systematic ways to build typologies, such as qualitative, theory-based descriptions on one end and quantitative, exploratory statistical means on the other end of the spectrum. Both have their specific advantages and disadvantages, which can be bridged by applying set-theoretic methods, such as Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). The contribution of this paper is substantial and methodological: First, we show how QCA can enhance our understanding of media systems by building a typology that draws on Hallin and Mancini’s framework. The main improvement of QCA is the ability to identify ideal types as well as border cases. In our analysis, we move beyond the widely discussed case of Great Britain and take a closer look at further border cases such as Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Portugal. Second, QCA has been scarcely applied to build typologies and if so, only in neighboring disciplines. Thus, we aim at familiarizing comparative political communication scholars with this method.

Büchel, Florin; Humprecht, Edda; Castro-Herrero, Laia; Engesser, Sven; Brüggemann, Michael (2016): Building Empirical Typologies with QCA: Toward a Classification of Media Systems. In The International Journal of Press/Politics 21 (2), pp. 209–232. Available online at

Mapping the minds of the mediators: The cognitive frames of climate journalists from five countries (2016)


This article is based on the premise that journalists play an important role as mediators of scientific information and their interpretations of climate change influence media debates and public opinion. The study maps the minds of climate journalists from five different countries (Germany, India, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and different types of leading media outlets. It identifies five cognitive frames that vary between attributing the responsibility for climate change to lobbying and national interests, blaming consumerist culture and the capitalist system, and expressing technological optimism. The study provides evidence for the emergence of a sustainability frame, indicates a “blame game” between industrialized countries and emerging economies, and shows the demand for a global ecological discourse. Finally, it explores how individual factors such as specialization, professional aims, and political alignment correlate with the cognitive frames of journalists.

Engesser, Sven; Brüggemann, Michael (2015): Mapping the minds of the mediators. The cognitive frames of climate journalists from five countries. In Public Understanding of Science 25 (7), pp. 825–841. Available online at

Between frame setting and frame sending. How journalists contribute to news frames (2014)


Framing has grown into a thriving approach to analyze media content and effects. Research on frame building is less well developed. Particularly journalists’ contributions to shaping the frames in the news deserve further analysis. This article conceptualizes these contributions to creating news frames: Journalistic framing practices are situated on a continuum between frame setting and frame sending. Journalists frame their articles more or less in line with their own interpretations. The challenge for research is to identify the conditions that determine the degree of journalistic frame setting. The article therefore identifies mechanisms and factors that play a role in determining to what degree journalistic frame enactment takes place.

Brüggemann, Michael (2014): Between Frame Setting and Frame Sending: How Journalists Contribute to News Frames. In Communication Theory 24 (1), pp. 61–82. Available online at

Between Consensus and Denial: Climate Journalists as Interpretive Community (2014)


This study focuses on climate journalists as key mediators between science and the public sphere. It surveys journalists from five countries and from five types of leading news outlets. Despite their different contexts, journalists form an interpretive community sharing the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change and agreeing on how to handle climate-change skeptics. This consensus is particularly strong among a core of prolific writers while climate-change skepticism persists among a periphery of occasional writers. The journalists’ attitudes towards climate change are connected to their usage of sources indicating that interpretive communities include journalists and scientists.

Brüggemann, Michael; Engesser, Sven (2014): Between Consensus and Denial: Climate Journalists as Interpretive Community. In Science Communication 36 (4), pp. 399–427. Available online at

Transnational communication as deliberation, ritual and strategy (2014)


Globalized communication flows transcend and transform national borders. Transnational media outlets targeting audiences around the globe, issues of global concern are subjected to border-crossing public debates, media events receive transnational attention, and public diplomacy efforts succeed – and fail – in characteristic patterns around the world. In response to these phenomena the article shows how the study of transnational communication can benefit from combining three theoretical perspectives that are rarely studied together: communication as deliberation, as ritual and as strategy. Particularly in explaining the failures of transnational communication, explanatory potential often seems to lie just outside the limited vision of each of the perspectives – and outside the scope of empirical analyses that are limited to Western contexts.

Brüggemann, Michael; Wessler, Hartmut (2014): Transnational Communication as Deliberation, Ritual, and Strategy. In Communication Theory 24 (4), pp. 394–414. Available online at

Hallin and Mancini Revisited: Four Empirical Types of Western Media Systems (2014)


The analysis of media systems has become a corner stone in the field of comparative communication research. Ten years after its publication, we revisit the landmark study in the field, Hallin and Mancini’s “Comparing Media Systems” (2004), and operationalize its framework for standardized measurement. The study at hand is, to the best of our knowledge, the first to comprehensively validate the original dimensions and models using aggregated data from the same sample of Western countries. Three out of four dimensions of media systems show relatively high levels of internal consistency but “role of the state” should be disaggregated into three sub-dimensions. A cluster analysis reveals four empirical types of media systems that differentiate and extend the original typology.

Brüggemann, Michael; Engesser, Sven; Büchel, Florin; Humprecht, Edda; Castro, Laia (2014): Hallin and Mancini Revisited. Four Empirical Types of Western Media Systems. In Journal of Communication 64 (6), pp. 1037–1065. Available online at

Transnational trigger constellations: Reconstructing the story behind the story (2013)


Understanding how the topics of news stories are socially constructed through journalistic practices is an important question for the study of journalism. We contribute to this strand of research by reconstructing the process of news making from the perspective of the journalists. The method used for this purpose is the comparative reconstruction of the ‘biographies’ of news stories by interviewing the authors of news stories. This was done during the same two weeks covering European news in 23 elite, popular and regional newspapers in six countries (Great Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Denmark and Austria). A cluster analysis identifies the complex constellations of different components that trigger European news making. Four trigger constellations co-exist that represent different sets of journalistic practices of news making. These transnational patterns of journalistic practices show that journalism is not only a professional community based on a common professional ideology, but that journalism is a transnational community of practice.

Brüggemann, Michael (2013): Transnational trigger constellations: Reconstructing the story behind the story. In Journalism. Theory, Practice and Criticism 14 (3), pp. 401–418. Available online at

The strategic repertoire of publishers in the media crisis: The “five C” scheme in Germany (2012)


Germany could be considered a deviant case in the comparative study of the current transformations in media markets as publishers continue to be profitable despite painting a gloomy picture of the possibility of there being a ‘‘media crisis.’’ What is specific about the German case is the strong economic position and political lobbying of the publisher associations. Combining different sources of primary and secondary data, this article investigates five strategies of crisis management (‘‘the five Cs’’): media companies may react to the current changes by cutting down costs and creating new products. They may further try to influence the general framework conditions by complaining about their plight in public (discursive strategy), taking competitors to court (legal strategy) and wooing politicians through lobbying and campaigning (political strategy). The article concludes that the sustainable provision of journalistic value benefits the most from creative, productive strategies.

Brüggemann, Michael; Esser, Frank; Humprecht, Edda (2012): The Strategic Repertoire of Publishers in the Media Crisis. The “Five C” Scheme in Germany. In Journalism Studies 13 (5-6), pp. 742–752. Available online at

Explaining cosmopolitan coverage (2013)


Research on international news flows has mostly aimed to explain why certain countries and regions are more reported on than others. There are few studies, however, on the reasons why some media outlets cover foreign affairs more intensively than others. This article thus extends our current knowledge by mapping different degrees of cosmopolitan coverage and identifying key conditions that help to explain these differences. Analysing foreign reporting and transnational debate in 12 newspapers from six European countries the study then employs FsQCA as the method for identifying the best ‘recipes’ – defined as the most relevant constellations of conditions for explaining cosmopolitan coverage. These causal recipes combine conditions at the level of the media outlet and conditions related to the country where the respective outlet is situated.

Brüggemann, Michael; Kleinen-v. Königslöw, Katharina (2013): Explaining cosmopolitan coverage. In European Journal of Communication 28 (4), pp. 361–387. Available online at

Transnationale Kulturen des Journalismus. Praktiken journalistischer Themenfindung im Vergleich (2012)


Eine ganz zentrale Tätigkeit von Journalisten ist die Themenfindung, die sich aus kommunikationswissenschaftlicher Sicht als von verschiedenen Faktoren beeinflusste redaktionelle Themenkonstruktion darstellt. Ziel dieser Studie ist die Identifikation von typischen Mustern redaktioneller Themenkonstruktion in der Europaberichterstattung. Dazu wurden die Autoren journalistischer Artikel interviewt, um aus Akteurssicht die „Biographien“ ausgewählter Artikel der Europaberichterstattung von 23 Tageszeitungen in sechs EU-Mitgliedstaaten zu rekonstruieren. Die Interviews wurden qualitativ und quantitativ inhaltsanalytisch ausgewertet. Mittels Cluster- und Varianzanalysen wurden typische Muster journalistischer Themenkonstruktion identifiziert und ihre Verteilung auf Länder und Zeitungstypen untersucht. Grenzüberschreitend geteilte Praktiken der Themenfindung verweisen auf die Existenz transnationaler Kulturen des Journalismus, die über die grenzüberschreitende wechselseitige Beobachtung der Medien stabilisiert

Brüggemann, Michael (2012): Transnationale Kulturen des Journalismus. Praktiken journalistischer Themenfindung im Vergleich. In Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft 60 (Sonderband Nr. 2 Grenzüberschreitende Medienkommunikation, hg. von Hartmut Wessler und Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz), pp. 76–92. Available online at