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“A European Public Sphere is Emerging That Has Long Been Missed”

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Portrait of Prof. Susanne Fengler © Roland Baege​/​TU Dortmund
Prof. Susanne Fengler is the academic director of the Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism.

Researchers from the Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism (EBI) at TU Dortmund University have been dealing for many years with reporting on migration and flight – and have just recently published a corresponding handbook for UNESCO. Professor Susanne Fengler, Academic Director of the EBI, explains what is important for reporting at the present time and which patterns can already be detected.

What should journalists pay attention to at the moment when reporting on Ukrainian refugees?

Many people are traumatized by the war in Ukraine. Journalists speaking to refugees right now need to be aware that they can trigger re-traumatization or intensify the trauma through their questions alone. Our handbook provides concrete advice for such interview situations. At the same time, of course, international journalists reporting from Ukraine are also exposed to the risk of becoming traumatized. Many companies meanwhile offer qualified and professional help for Western correspondents. We will have to create such an offer for our Ukrainian colleagues once the fighting has ended.

What are you observing in German media?

Reporting here in Germany is currently very much focused on individuals – on the people exposed to the war, both within Ukraine and on their flight from their homeland. In my opinion, the media are responding very constructively here to the criticism that arose after the 2015/16 refugee crisis. Back then, the refugees were often only visible in the media as a vast, anonymous group, reports predominantly centered on political stakeholders – this can also be seen in a comparative pan-European study we undertook in 2019. This is now noticeably different. But we also know from previous studies that the closer the events in the “news geography” are taking place to one’s own country, the more differentiated reporting on flight and migration is.

Ukraine was already at the center of international attention in 2014 due to the armed conflict and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. What scientific insights have you gathered concerning the reaction of European media at that time?

Back then, we conducted a comparative analysis of media in Western and Eastern Europe within the network of our European Journalism Observatory. To our surprise, the study showed that the armed conflict in 2014 was sooner a peripheral topic in some post-Soviet countries too, such as Latvia and the Czech Republic – which themselves were suppressed by Moscow for decades. For Southern European countries as well, the conflict at that time was “a long way away”. That is now fundamentally different. Because of the threatening situation, a European public sphere is suddenly emerging on a previously unknown scale – and which has long been missed by communication studies too. Furthermore, reporting at that time focused strongly on Putin as a person – we’re seeing that pattern again now.

UNESCO handbook “Reporting on Migrants and Refugees”

Researchers from the Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism (EBI) at TU Dortmund University have spent the last six years compiling a handbook entitled “Reporting on Migrants and Refugees” for UNESCO. This was the first time that a UNESCO handbook, which sets the standards for journalism education worldwide, was compiled by a German journalism institute. The handbook, which is about 300 pages long, was published in 2021 and is based on extensive scientific analyses by the team from TU Dortmund University and numerous international conferences and workshops related to reporting on migration and flight – in the destination countries of migrants and refugees as well as in their countries of origin and the transit countries.

UNESCO handbook “Reporting on Migrants and Refugees”


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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Campus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dort­mund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Campus). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from North Campus to South Campus by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Campus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station (“Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 15 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop “Dort­mund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dort­mund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on North Campus. One (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Campus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Campus and offers a direct connection to South Campus every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.

Site Map of TU Dortmund University (Second Page in English).