I’m a political and media scientist with a strong interest in digital ethics and a professional background in political consulting. I obtained my doctorate from Oxford University (St. Antony’s College) in media studies and political science with distinction (“no corrections”).
After receiving my German Diploma in Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin, I spent five years at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik), where I worked as a researcher advising members of the German and European Parliament and the German Foreign Office.
Currently, I’m working on a project mapping the nascent field of digital ethics in politics in an effort to specify and substantiate an area, that has become a synonyme for anything “good”. My research relies significantly on digital methods such as sentiment analysis. In this vein I have used mostly python and the relevant packages for data-visualization (plotly) and natural language processing (nltk).
I’m an active member of the Society for Digital Ethics, the National e-Government Competence Center and I am moderating the expert forum for digital ethics of administration and companies of the Digital State Congress.
PhD Thesis (in publication with Palgrave MacMillan)
Currently, I am working on a book manuscript that emerges from my dissertation. The book project examines the form, dynamics, and main reasons for media capture and conspiracy between editors and executive politicians in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) since 2000. Situated in the literature on democratization, party studies, and media studies, the book aims to connect these fields by showing that internal party dynamics such as party leaders’ entrenchment, contestation of rules, and institutionalization of rules play an important role in motivating executive politicians to hijack or collaborate with media. The study’s empirical finding of drastic failures in media control of CEE governments contradicts dominant narratives about the high degree of democratic consolidation in CEE between 2000 and 2014, and thus calls into question the appropriateness of indicators that primarily capture the institutionalization of institutions rather than the institutionalization of particularism.
These developments are illustrated using the case study of Croatia, which, because of its involvement in a war as a so-called “hard case”, can provide insight into its peers in CEE where less difficult conditions led to a similar outcome. Against this backdrop, the book tells the story of Croatian journalism in the context of media-mafia conglomerates, political corruption, and media hijacking, and explores how “traditional” democratic drivers that the literature frequently cites, such as functioning party competition and Europeanization, failed to prevent these systematic transgressions by politicians. Instead, this book argues that intraparty dynamics, such as the rootedness of party leaders in the party membership, the degree of their internal party contestation, and the institutionalization of internal party rules, play an important role in creating incentives for executive politicians to capture or conspire with media.
Methodologically, the project takes a two-pronged approach. First, nearly 50 interviews were conducted with Croatian investigative journalists, from which the narratives about the relationship between government politicians and editors over 15 years were reconstructed. In a second step, a sample of 40,000 media articles was subjected to a computational sentiment analysis, covering the same 15-year period. The results show that those media that were known from the interviews as captured, consistently spread extremely positive views about politicians known to be involved in corrupt deals. Given that media NGOs have historically relied on anecdotal evidence to document governmental transgressions of media autonomy, the big data method developed here is the first to provide a direct, objective, and systematic measure of press freedom.