What’s Your Thesis?

The Challenge Has Arrived – The Master’s Thesis!

On my way to finish my degree – one of the most important prerequisites to actually become a journalist – I’ve finished nearly all my course work. The end of my career as a student is slowly approaching. BUT, there is one big challenge that I still need to master (pun totally intended). After all, I need to deliver a final thesis!
While most people seem to suffer from a lack of ideas, my problem is that I have too many ideas!

I hope that this selection process will not only help me, but is also helpful to others who might have too many choices. Or as a source for ideas for those who lack the ideas!

Step 0: – The Book

I started a little book a while ago, which I used to put down all my ideas. It was certainly a good idea, since that brought me a nice four pages of possible topics. However, since many of these topics are incredibly fascinating to me, this is not an easy task.

So instead of just picking one and going with that, I’m going through several steps in the selection process.

Step 1:  Getting an overview!

In order to figure out what topic to pick, I first needed an overview of possibilities. There are two sorts of theses – a general category and one related to modern forms of Journalism. Funny enough, putting together that list, brought me to eliminate a number of topics from the start.

Here’s the initial list:

General Topics:

  1. Twitter (and other Social networks) as media creating social capital / social trust or built on the concept of Karma: “I’ll do this for you now, without expecting anything, not knowing you, confident that down the road you or so. else will return the favor”. (Putnam 2000:  Bowling Alone, p.134)
    # Twitter #SocialMedia #SocialTrust #SocialCapital
    11-02-2010: possible thesis: Social Media creates Social Trust that leads to trust and connections online, and possibly bsuiness / revenue. That will be a pain in the ass to prove!
  2. Commercialization and professionalization of political activities: “Tea Party” vs. “Coffee Party”. Hiring protestors
    #Civic Society #Political Participation #democracy
    –> eliminated in first round
  3. YouTube and the style of movies: What influence did YouTube (or other online video platforms) have on professional mainstream film?
    #media #youtube #film #cinema #amateur
    11-02-2010: –> seems less interesting now then at time of writing down
  4. Stereotypes in (SuperBowl) commercials
    #race #TV #stereotypes #media
    –> eliminated in first round
  5. (Seattle) coffee culture: The invention of the Third Place. (Starbucks now copying small coffee shop appearance)
    #coffee #Pacific North West #everyday #creation of culture
    11-02-2010: Is that really enough for a thesis? And who outside of Seattle cares? What’s its meaning for the greater society?
  6. Native American Representation in Maps (area? time? geographical material?)
    #Native American #maps #visual media #geography #historical topic
    11-02-2010: Idea for an extension of the topic – What about the “other side”? Are there Native American “Maps”?
    Check out the Expansion of “Native Americans in Maps” in a separate post
  7. New Orleans post-Katrina in film or photography
    #NOLA #media #photography
    –> eliminated in first round
  8. Stay Local! Regional Protectionism in the USA: The example of New Orleans
    #NOLA #business # local #Treme
    –> eliminated in first round
  9. Google short company clips
    #google #web #media
    –> eliminated in first round
  10. Mexican-American Border: Fronterilandia in documentary films
    #media #film #US-Mexico #border #politics
    11-02-2010: No news on this front, still lacking material to work on this. Thesis could be: Construction of the frontier not just as a physical border, but as an imaginary space that helps both groups to define themselves in terms of “them” and “we”.
  11. The influence of a “culture of failure” on Blogging in Germany and the USA
    #media #blog #sociology
    11-02-2010: This might actually also tie in nicely with the Journalism topic(!?)
  12. Journalism Topics

update 11-29-2010: check out the 1st proposal on Digital Journalism (After the “Death of Print”: Reinventing Journalism in the US), focused on “Investigative Journalism”

update 11-02-2010: After a second round of going through the different topics, I realized that all those could really be summarized under former # 12, which has grown more interesting: It carries an aspect of America redefining / reinventing itself.
#frontier #regenerationthroughviolence

#12: New Business models for journalism after the collapse of print media in the US #journalism #web2.0 #business


#12.1 (formerly #14): News you really want: Crowdfunded Journalism and the Spot.us model
#journalism2.0 #crowdfunding #spot.us

#12.2: Security and Anonymity from political power and threat: How Wiki-Leaks allows journalists to do critical work
#journalism2.0 #wikileaks #politics
11-02-2010: How does this tie in with the general situation of Journalism?

12.3: Twitter and its meaning as a journalist’s tool for research and networking
#journalism2.0 #twitter #research

Journalists as multi talents on the road: How mobile Journalists do their job
#mobile journalism #journalism2.0

–> eliminated in first round

YouTube’s Reporter Center’s channel: What expectations for future journalists are created in HowTo Videos for Journalists?
#journalism2.0 #youtube
update, 11-02-2010: eliminated topic for perceived lack of relevance to society (2nd round)

Step 3: What’s in it?

After getting an overview and through that already eliminating some topics, I will continue to expand on the topics in single posts in order to find out what I could do with them. And thus figure out if I really like them.

For example Check out the Expansion of “Native Americans in Maps” in a separate post

OR see the range of research that came out of my discussion with my professor on the Journalism topic!

Please feel free to leave comments on each topic. Why you think it would be good or bad. How you like it (and why?) And which one is your favorite 🙂

Thanks a bunch!

To be continued…

  1. I like #10–but mostly because I like stirring the pot, so to speak. It’s something that would be interesting to look at given the current socio-political climate, but you risk only reaching an audience that would agree with you–whatever your stance.

    I also like #14 since I generally believe that there isn’t enough of news people actually want–which is why things like the Daily Show and Colbert Report (sorry, I’m less familiar with the examples you listed) have become so popular. I’m sure this is part of what makes the news blogs popular as well–we’re able to just filter in the news we want and click away from any news we don’t want. It also allows us to follow links to topics we might find interesting–no longer linear or inherently dicated by a narrow media.

    • Thank you! The link to Daily Show and Colbert is actually well set. You could probably also mention the Onion on this. If there is no close connection of media to their audience, it is hard to know what people really want in terms of news. But while these examples are more humoristic, Spot.us is doing more serious “muckracking” journalism. They are trying to get the connection to the audience by “sponsoring” a story the audience wants to have reported.

      #10 indeed is interesting in the socio-political dimension. Since it’s an analysis of media and media portrayal rather than the situation itself, I don’t think the audience is limited to pro-immigration or against-immigration views. However, I haven’t found enough material in documentary film at this point to expand on the topic sufficiently so that it could become a thesis!

      If you do have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Thanks a bunch!

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