The daily use of media shapes our society. Over time the traditional media newspaper and magazine, radio and television develop and online media bring about additional impulses for media change. The Media Studies department in Trier accompanies the media change scientifically, analyses trends and detects potential for optimization. The key issues of the research activities are: How should media products be made in order to maximise their communicative functions? How do readers, listeners, viewers and online users perceive media products? In what way do the so called new media influence the development in the media landscape? Many professionals in publishing and broadcasting companies make use of the findings of Trier’s research in order to optimize their media products.
Within the scope of reception research, the Media Studies Department in Trier has already been surveying websites of newspapers, broadcasters and e-commerce providers since 1998. These analyses are carried out by inviting subjects to the reception laboratory and observing their utilization of media products. The employed eye tracking technology allows for collecting exact data on the subjects’ eye movement during the reception process and facilitates the evaluation of the experiments. The obtained data provides the possibility to detect the weak points of any stimulus’ usability and to define their potential for optimization. This qualitative research is supplemented by quantitative methods such as online surveys or logfile analyses.
The internet research at the department centres around websites. It goes beyond the mere aspect of usability: The research on interactivity in media aims to identify the way in which the internet changes mass communication. In the course of the interdisciplinary project “Internet in the People’s Republic of China”, websites have been analysed from an intercultural perspective. Another study examined the usage and acceptance of e-papers, a 1:1 reproduction of newspapers on the internet. A project on multimedia journalism brought about a study on multimodal infographics and its perils from an audience’s point of view.
Quality in Journalism
How can the quality of mass media be measured – and how can it be ensured in the everyday routine of news departments? These were the questions with which a study on the media sector in Luxembourg was concerned. A quality monitoring examined the output of radio and television and developed a code of conduct for the commission overseeing the radio and television programming. Studies on the criteria of quality in radio programs and the relevance of media theories for quality in journalism complement this area of research.
The Media Studies department in Trier develops, tests and evaluates web based e-learning courses. The projects seek to probe and implement courses, which adopt the approach of problem-based learning didactically and which are user friendly and meet the requirements of the internet. An example of such a course would be one matched with Media and Communication Studies, which opens up flexible and individual possibilities for various types of students with diverse interests and knowledge. The courses and the units can be used to accompany institutional education or private study and their modular concept facilitates their adoption in various contexts of (further) education.
Overview of all the print/online department’s research projects.
The research results and the arising knowledge are not only published in scientific journals, but also directly transferred to professional training. In this context, the Media Studies department focuses on innovative instruments in order to transfer the findings to both students and professionals effectively.
Academic teaching is supported by two online platforms. The platform Ilias provides e-learning modules on mass communication, media effects, journalism and academic writing. The second platform, Stud.IP, allows for easy distribution of class materials and online communication within classes. Recordings of key lectures make it possible to attend these Virtual lectures from home. A computer room, multimedia work stations and digital editing suites for video and audio are available for practical training.
Further Education for Professionals
E-learning modules are not only developed for students, but also in the scope of a project concerned with further academic education for professionals in the field of multimedia journalism. The modules are based on the main principle of blended learning, in that they accompany and complement in-class learning with online learning periods.
Media Studies brings its competence to corporate projects with the subjects Business Administration, Law, Psychology, Sociology and Business Information Systems at the University of Trier’s research centre Competence Center E-Business (CEB), which develops applied knowledge of methods and experience. The research is carried out in cooperation with business partners from the practical field – and the results are introduced into teaching and further education.
Being located close to Luxembourg, France and Belgium, the Media Studies department in Trier is shaped by internationality. The closeness to these three neighbouring states provides an insight into Europe’s media landscape and development. Yet our perspective even outreaches these European reflections; e.g. when it comes to research on the "Internet in the People’s Republic of China". The students benefit from the international focus: They have the opportunity to participate in the program "International Journalism" of Hamline University in Minnesota/USA.