conflict & communication online, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2005
ISSN 1618-0747




Aude Plontz
The German-French Conflict over the Presidency of the European Central Bank in the German and French Presses

This quantitative content analysis was intended to describe the reporting about a moderately escalated conflict, the French-German conflict over the leadership of the European Central Bank, and to help clarify what sorts of prerequisites could be beneficial for de-escalation-oriented conflict reporting. Two German daily newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, and two French daily newspapers, Le Figaro und Le Monde, were analysed. Overall, 1067 coding units (paragraphs) were encoded. The coding system for moderately escalated conflicts used for the encoding was based on the coding system developed by the Peace Research Project Group of the University of Constance (see Kempf, 2003, pp.137-40). A latent class analysis produced five classes describing the reporting styles, from the largest class to the smallest: “negative presentation of the opponent,” “presentation of the gravity of the conflict accompanied by attempts to encourage conflict de-escalation,” “opinion about the conflict development,” “idealisation of one’s own side” and “de-escalation-oriented critique of one’s own side.” The escalation-oriented styles correspond to the mechanisms of intergroup discrimination described in social identity theory, as presented by Tajfel & Turner (1986): negative bias towards the outgroup (cf. “negative presentation of the opponent”) and positive bias towards the ingroup (cf. “idealisation of one’s own side”). The reporting showed an overall escalation orientation, although some de-escalation-oriented aspects were also represented. The contingency analysis showed that the French newspapers, the articles by non-anonymous authors or editors, and the articles from the last conflict phase more often used de-escalation-oriented reporting styles. In contrast, the German newspapers, the pro-government newspapers, and the articles written at the start of the conflict more often used escalation-oriented reporting styles. The political orientation of the newspapers (rather right-oriented vs. rather left-oriented) and the length of the articles did not seem to correlate with the reporting orientation.



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On the author:
Aude Plontz, born 1977, French degree in Modern Languages from the University Paris IV-Sorbonne (“licence de Lettres Modernes”, 1999), French degree in Philosophy from the University Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne (“maîtrise de philosophie”, 2001), and German degree in Psychology from the University of Konstanz (“Diplom der Psychologie”, 2005). 2002 – 2005 research assistant in the Peace Research Group at the University of Konstanz. Research fields: German press reporting on France after WWII and development of a coding system for the analysis of moderately escalated conflicts. Recently she has been accepted as a PhD student at La Trobe University in Melbourne (Australia), where she will start to work on a longitudinal study on the psychological health of refugees in June 2006.

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