| Philosophische Fakultät, Seminar für Medien- und Kommunikationswissenschaft, Studium, Veranstaltungen

"LGBTV" wins funding award for daily soap investigation

After two pandemic-related online events, the "Project Forum" of the Department of Media and Communication Studies at the University of Erfurt was finally able to take place on campus again this year. Today, five student groups presented the results of their 2021/2022 "Project Study Phase". The promotional prize of 500 euros was won by Valentina Gunkel, Alma Melzer, Melanie Heyne, Lea Hergeth, Lara Gathmann, Matthes Schade and Katharina Möbius with their project "LGBTV: The portrayal of sexual orientations in entertaining television formats in German-speaking countries".

[Translate to English:] PSP-Gruppe "LGBTV"
[Translate to English:] PSP-Gruppe "LGBTV"

The students examined the quantity and quality of the portrayal of non-heterosexual orientations in the daily soap "Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten" (GZSZ), which has been broadcast since 1992 and is widely received by young people, over time. The reason for this was that new laws and regulations in recent years have indeed contributed to improving the lives of non-heterosexual people in Germany. Nevertheless, discrimination against sexual minorities is still widespread, and their visibility in public is significantly lower than that of heterosexual people. This sometimes makes it difficult for adolescents in particular to find and live their sexual identity. However, mass media can positively influence this process and even offer identification potential, according to the assumption of the LGBTV research group - namely through high visibility and appropriate representation of non-heterosexual figures.

To answer the research question of how the portrayal of non-heterosexual orientations has developed in the series GZSZ, the group conducted a two-stage content analysis: A first quantitative survey based on a sample of 152 episodes determined the frequency of the appearance of non-heterosexual characters. Their conversations with non-heterosexual reference and non-heterosexual romantic/sexual acts as well as the temporal length of these conversations and acts were also examined. A subsequent in-depth content analysis was then intended to provide information on how the non-heterosexual characters identified in the first step of the investigation were accepted by other series characters. This showed that in the course of the past 30 years in which GZSZ has been broadcast, there have been three central phases in the appearance of non-heterosexual characters. The visibility of non-heterosexual orientations was thus given throughout the entire course. However, these series characters were also distinguished by numerous other character traits; their sexual orientation was not the focus. The acceptance of the characters was also almost complete. Nevertheless, the research team found that the portrayal of the characters still has "room for improvement" in terms of diversity.

With their study, the group "LGBTV" convinced the jury this year. But the four other projects also examined exciting topics again:

  • International foreign reporting on the 2021 Bundestag elections: A snapshot of the political image of Germany
  • True Crime: How are crime, crime detection and crime fighting portrayed in German True Crime On-Demand offerings? A cross-format analysis of German true crime podcasts, series and print magazines
  • Intermedia agenda-setting between online journalism and social media: The influence of German-language non-establishment actors on online coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict in May 2021
  • Cognitive dissonance in a vaccination context: A multi-method investigation of the influence of cognitive dissonance on selective media use in relation to the Covid 19 vaccination.

All project descriptions can be found in the Project Forum 2022 brochure(in German only).
Congratulations to all project teams and especially to the winners of the 2022 Award.