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PhD position: "Media Capture and the Consequences for Journalistic Performance"

Posted 12 Jul 2024
Work experience
1 to 3 years
Full-time / part-time
Job function
€2,770 - €3,539 per month
Degree level
Required languages
English (Fluent)
Dutch (Fluent)
16 Aug 2024 00:00

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PhD position in the project: “Commercially instigated media capture and the consequences for journalistic performance: Biting the hand that feeds you?”

We are seeking a PhD candidate for the project “Commercially instigated media capture and the consequences for journalistic performance: Biting the hand that feeds you?” This is a 4-year PhD project, in which the PhD candidate will investigate the dynamics and effects of commercially instigated media capture on journalistic outputs, citizen trust, policy, and individual journalists in the European context.

The PhD track is part of two programme groups embedded in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR, department of Communication Science) at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam: “Corporate Communication” and “Political Communication & Journalism”. You will be working under the supervision of Mark Boukes, Katjana Gattermann, Olga Eisele, and Kathleen Beckers.

What are you going to do

Media capture occurs when news content is influenced or controlled by corporate or political interests, undermining journalistic independence. Little is still known about commercially instigated capture, where the interests of corporate owners or potent advertisers may override journalistic integrity. This risk is especially prevalent in Europe, where significant media market concentration allows a few entities to control much of the media landscape.

Yet, we do not know much about how these subtler forms of media control influence the journalistic production process. This concerns the pressures individual journalists face and their handling of corporate influences on their reporting; citizens’ awareness of media capture and its influence on trust in mainstream media; and stakeholder dynamics evolving around media capture as corporate influences may intersect with political interests, potentially exerting pressure on political figures.

Thus, the central research question for the PhD project is: What are the effects of commercially instigated media capture on journalistic outputs, citizen trust, policy, and individual journalists?

The methodology includes

  • (automated) content analysis of media coverage on corporate takeovers to systematically map the influence of commercially instigated media capture on journalistic output;
  • surveys on public perceptions of media ownership and news trust;
  • stakeholder analysis in media mergers;
  • interviews with journalists to gauge the impact of corporate media capture on their work and editorial independence.

You will/tasks

  • Develop, conduct, and publish research on the consequences of commercially instigated media capture;
  • Complete a PhD dissertation consisting of several research articles within the appointment period;
  • Present your work at national and international conferences;
  • Conduct teaching-related tasks in the Bachelor programme of Communication Science (10% of your time);
  • Contribute to the vibrant academic life in Amsterdam by attending ASCoR’s PhD club, workshops, meetings, and lectures;
  • Contribute to the public debate about media pluralism.

What do you have to offer


  • Are excited about empirical research;
  • Are eager to learn and apply new methodological and practical skills, and to dive into different theories at the intersection of corporate communication and journalism studies;
  • Have a strong commitment to methodological rigor, scientific integrity, and open science principles;
  • Are a team player and enjoy working in an interdisciplinary collaborative project;
  • Enjoy discussing and presenting research in research seminars, workshops, and conferences, and are keen to communicate results to non-academic audiences;
  • Are willing to travel internationally to scientific conferences and workshops, and engage with the scientific community at large.
  • Are willing to move to Amsterdam or a location within daily commuting distance for the duration of the contract.

Your experience and profile

  • A research master's degree in communication science or a related social-science field, or expect to obtain it soon (ultimately: 31 January 2025);
  • A strong interest in and preferably knowledge of journalism, corporate communication and/or political communication topics;
  • Firm basis in and ideally experience with empirical research methods and data analysis. In particular, the project involves content analysis (manual and automated), survey, and in-depth interviewing. It is no requirement that one has experience in all of these methods; the PhD trajectory allows methodological training and further development. Please explicitly reflect on your methodological skillset in the motivation letter.
  • Strongly committed to open science principles, methodological rigor and scientific integrity;
  • Proven proficiency in statistical software, such as SPSS, Stata, R and/or Python;
  • Curious and eager to learn new skills, theoretical perspectives and practical issues;
  • Excellent spoken and written command of English (as you will write an English-language dissertation and present at international conferences);
  • Excellent social and organizational skills;
  • Eager to contribute to the scientific field;
  • Motivated to share your knowledge with academic and non-academic audiences;
  • Able to work independently and open to feedback.
  • Strong interpersonal and project management skills

Desirable experiences

  • Previous experience with journalism research;
  • Experience as a research assistant.

What can we offer you

The ultimate starting date for this project is February 1st, 2025 (earlier: if possible). The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours for a maximum term of four years. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also includes the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will also be tasked with teaching (Bachelor’s) students for approximately 10% of the contract. For this position the University Job Classification profile “promovendus” applies.

Your salary will be €2,770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3,539 in the final year and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer

  • a position in which initiative and input are highly valued;
  • two enthusiastic and warm programme groups that are open to new colleagues;
  • an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

The University of Amsterdam is one of the largest comprehensive universities in Europe. With some 40,000 students, 6,000 staff, 3,000 PhD candidates, and an annual budget of more than 850 million euros, it is also one of Amsterdam’s biggest employers.
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