Exploration of a fragmented discourse. Privacy and data security in Süddeutsche Zeitung: 2007–2017

Florian Meissner, Gerret von Nordheim


The goal of this exploratory case study is to identify different facets of news reporting on surveillance, privacy and data security, and more specifically, how risks in this context are portrayed. The theoretical foundation consists of two elements: 1) the concept of mediatized risk culture, and 2) the discursive arena model of risk communication, which provides the normative background for assessing news reporting. A text-mining approach (topic modeling) is applied to analyze relevant coverage of the German quality newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The study yields a total of seven topics which belong to three categories: violation of privacy norms, power and law enforcement, and datafication. The results show that despite the de-mystification of digital technology after the Snowden leaks, coverage has recently become more affirmative and less focused on risk. We conclude that this may indicate a normalization of mass surveillance and data harvesting even in Germany, a society which traditionally values privacy. In order to add more context to our findings, however, further qualitative analyses were needed. The paper serves as a starting point for further research on media reporting of surveillance, privacy and data security.


Internet, digitization, privacy, data security, information security, surveillance, Snowden, risk communication, journalism.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/ms.2018.2.103-123
Data publikacji: 2019-06-26 08:58:26
Data złożenia artykułu: 2018-04-20 11:49:00


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