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Communication Dans Un Congrès Année : 2012

Guiding Principles for internet Policy. A comparative study of German and us- american media coverage


The CfP suggests reflecting on electronic media and their potential constitution of "new spaces of information, creativity, controversies, or even deliberation." Whether electronic media, and especially the internet, will have this potential to create "new public spheres" also depends on the future information and communication polity. With information and communication polity i mean the structural and institutional framework for the promotion and control of the internet infrastructure, content and user behavior.How the internet is currently promoted and controlled and how it will develop in future depends on the "ongoing set of disputes and deliberations over how the internet is coordinated, managed, and shaped to reflect policies" (Mueller, 2010: 9). These debates are guided by principles that represent basic normative orientations as well as general objectives with respect to the shape the internet should have in future (napoli, 2001, 2008; Ku¨nzler, 2011). Guiding principles do "not only define how political actors interpret the issues at stake but also [because they] alleviate uncertainties and help define acceptable courses of action" (Galperin, 2004: 161).Such debates revolving around internet policy principles can not only be found on the international level. the internet has become a critical resource worldwide and its impacts across all sectors of society have grown. Consequently, governments have played a more important role in regulating the internet in the last years. national public spheres have become an important place for discussion about local preferences, values and wishes concerning the shape of the internet (Goldsmith & Wu, 2006; eko, 2008). as different nations mostly also constitute different cultures the questions arises whether specific norms and goals have emerged in national contexts.the aim of this paper is to provide a country comparison of internet policy principles. the selected cases are Germany and the United States. Which are the guiding principles addressed in public debate and how are they justified? How can commonalities and differences between the two countries be explained? Guiding principles are a central component of the policymaking process (napoli, 2001; Karppinen, 2006). By referring to guiding principles, this study helps to understand which ideas societies develop with regard to their communication infrastructure (Donges & Puppis, 2010: 80). it also helps to explain why there are differences in media and internet policy decisions between countries (Ku¨nzler, 2011) and where some of the reasons for an increasingly nationalized internet are (Goldsmith & Wu, 2006). a further aim of this study is to find out whether the guiding principles of the pre-internet media policy era are still valid or whether new principles are emerging that are exclusively bound to the internet. in literature, one encounters varying positions whether the internet is distinct from "legacy media" and whether policies change due to new technological possibilities and due to new forms of media use (Cuilenburg & McQuail, 2003; Collins, 2006: 339; Storsul & Syvertsen, 2007). on the one hand, napoli (2008: 4) for instance is convinced that "the principle of diversity has emerged as one of the guiding principles of internet governance, just as it has served as a guiding policy principle in the realm of traditional media." on the other hand, scholars emphasize the singularity of the internet in comparison with traditional mass media referring to its specific technical architecture which generated completely new political problems and required alternative ideas and approaches for coordination (Bygrave & Bing, 2009; Mueller, 2010). in consideration of these ambivalent positions, this paper will examine which role "old" guiding principles such as diversity or freedom of expression play in German and US-american public discourse.the study is designed as a qualitative comparative study of media content. its aim is to understand differences and commonalities concerning guiding principles in the public discourse of various nations. Different cases were compared which still belong to the same family of advanced, postindustrial democracies. Germany and the United States were selected on the basis of the media system typology of Hallin and Mancini (2004). it is suited to take this typology as a basis for selecting countries because the relation between state and media is important for any question dealing with communication polity (thomass, 2007: 47). as every public discourse is embedded in specific national contexts, the approach by Hallin and Mancini was also used for explaining similarities and differences between the US and Germany (Wessler, 2008: 7).the two countries were also chosen because of internet policy reasons. the internet was developed in the US and debates about shape, control and management of the internet obviously have quite a tradition in this country. this is also true because important internet coordination tasks such as the domain name system management is carried out by organizations on US territory (Chadwick, 2006). Germany is an interesting case because although being the most populated country within the european Union, it just recently has experienced a more lively debate about internet policy. Until 2009, only experts dealt with this policy field (Scholz, 2004). However, that media coverage has intensified is linked to a general increase of importance of internet policy in the last two years. there is a "Commission of inquiry on the internet and Digital Society" the Federal Parliament has set up, round table discussions bringing together Federal Ministries and stakeholders, and political parties finally have picked up on internet policy issues.the empirical basis for the comparison is a qualitative content analysis of four quality newspapers in 2011 (new York times, Wall Street Journal, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter allgemeine Zeitung). Quality newspapers are the place where predominant orientations in society are negotiated upon (Wessler, 2008). By covering liberal and conservative opinions, these newspapers are suited to analyze German and US internet policy principles. Material was compiled in a database search. as guiding principles are not always explicitly expressed they had to be reconstructed from articles. analysis was carried out by means of categories. Media policy principles were extracted from literature.
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Dates et versions

hal-00840540 , version 1 (02-07-2013)


  • HAL Id : hal-00840540 , version 1


Maria Löblich. Guiding Principles for internet Policy. A comparative study of German and us- american media coverage. Communiquer dans un monde de normes. L'information et la communication dans les enjeux contemporains de la " mondialisation "., Mar 2012, France. ⟨hal-00840540⟩


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