Volume 10 · Number 1 · Pages 140–149
Do the Media Fail to Represent Reality? A Constructivist and Second-order Critique of the Research on Environmental Media Coverage and Its Normative Implications

Julia Völker & Armin Scholl

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Problem: First-order scientific research is often not aware of the hidden assumptions provided by an epistemological perspective based upon realism. Beyond philosophical considerations about the epistemological foundations, some practical normative implications deriving from them are crucial: in the field of communication and media studies, some scholars criticize media coverage, e.g., on climate change, as biased and distorted from reality. Method: From a constructivist perspective, the article presents a detailed meta-analysis of the course of argumentation provided by two empirical communication studies that follow an objectivist approach. Result: With the help of a second-order research strategy, it is possible to uncover their ontological assumptions and criticize their normative implications. Implications: Social scientists should be careful with normative suggestions for the system under study (e.g., journalists) unless they are applied within these systems themselves.

Key words: Meta-analysis, second-order research, epistemology, communication studies, climate change, bias.


Völker J. & Scholl A. (2014) Do the media fail to represent reality? A constructivist and second-order critique of the research on environmental media coverage and its normative implications. Constructivist Foundations 10(1): 140–149. http://constructivist.info/10/1/140

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