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AUFF awards Starting Grant to Christoph Raetzsch for a project on “Journalism for Civic Communication in Urban Spaces”

The research fund of Aarhus University (AUFF) has awarded a starting grant to Christoph Raetzsch for a research project on journalism for civic communication in urban spaces. The two-year project addresses a gap between journalism studies and smart city research, taking the datafication of urban spaces as an opportunity for journalism to go beyond the “informed citizen” model of its audience. The project shall map and evaluate approaches to how journalists, citizens, cities, data providers and civic tech NGO’s can work together on a local level to shape infrastructures for civic communication in the connected city.

Christoph Raetzsch

As city governance is increasingly influenced by technologies of big data and real-time analytics, open data activists, citizens and journalists also form new alliances for civic communication in data-driven urban contexts. As social life is today performed in sites of encounters that are often both physical and online these sites become infrastructures of publics, where physical spaces and online flows collide. Yet, these sites are often detached from public governance (e.g. on social media or as privatised public spaces).

The project adopts the perspective of infrastructure-interface relations on civic communication, developing “platform urbanism” (Barns 2020) with a strong focus on journalistic actors and civil society. It asks what kinds of civic communication are enabled by datafication and platforms, how are these collaborations sustained, and what participatory methods are used to develop use cases with journalists and civic tech NGO’s. The project will map existing projects of civic participation around urban innovation along with selected projects in tech/open data journalism in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany (e.g. in the domain of citizen sensing or neighborhood platforms). The collaboration of media companies and journalists shall enable to translate research outcomes to new practice(s) of journalism in the connected city.

As a member of DITCOM, Christoph Raetzsch will collaborate with partners to identify governance models and participatory approaches of living labs in smart city projects across Europe. One goal of the collaboration is to develop best practices for journalistic institutions and actors in urban innovation processes and to sustain and promote collaborations across media and cities around core themes of sustainable development.

In February, a Postdoc position will be advertised for the duration of 2 years (starting September 2021). The interested candidate should have a pronounced interest and background in digital journalism studies, urban studies and/or civic engagement. The applicant should have a good command of current debates in the designated research fields or make a convincing argument on how to identify and develop synergies between them. The applicant shall be able to identify and develop collaborations between different stakeholders such as journalists, activists, city representatives and citizens in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.  

Project Details: The project is scheduled to start late in 2021 and run for two years. A post-doc position for this period will be advertised soon. Interested applicants and partners are encouraged to inquire about the possibilities of collaboration early. The project is conducted in close collaboration with the Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX), Centre for Digital Transformation in Cities and Communities (DITCOM), Center for Digital Social Research DATALAB and Centre for Digital Methods and Media (CDMM). Among its international partners are colleagues at the Utrecht Data School (NL), the Weizenbaum Institute and Bard College in Berlin (DE), as well as University of Massachusetts at Amherst (US).

Christoph Raetzsch is Associate Professor at the Department of Media and Journalism Studies of Aarhus University. He works in journalism studies and researches history and theory of media development and practice in journalism, public spheres and urban spaces. Previously, he was a research fellow at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society (Berlin) and Postdoctoral researcher in the project OrganiCity at Aarhus University. His recent research deals with interpretations of smartness to animate civic innovation in cities, the interfaces and infrastructures of publics besides journalism, and the emergent potential of quotidian media practices to shape public discourses.

Contact: craetzsch@cc.au.dk or @craetzsch (https://twitter.com/CRaetzsch)

Web: http://raetzsch.berlin