Stefan Wollnik


  • since July 2018 MEDAS 21 PhD Fellow
  • 2014 – 2017 Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Communication at Bielefeld University
  • 2011 – 2014 Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Public Health at Bielefeld University
  • 2008 – 2011 Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Health Communication at Bielefeld University

Academic work experience

  • since 2018: Research associate at Duisburg-Essen University
  • 2018: Research associate at Erich-Brost-Institut für internationalen Journalismus (Dortmund)
  • 2012 – 2017: Student assistance and tutoring at Bielefeld University 

Research Focus and Interests

  • Political Communication
  • Health Communication/Public Health
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Digital Transformation
  • Concepts and Theories of Communication Studies and Media Sociology
  • Qualitative Research

PhD Project

Title: “Health journalism in Sub-Saharan Africa: An empirical analysis of its general conditions and social perception” 

African societies are still known for many health problems related mainly to poverty, especially communicable diseases (e.g. HIV, cholera). Nevertheless, some sub-Saharan societies are about to experience a change from communicable diseases to noncommunicable diseases, e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Such a change in health issues requires a professional handling of health news in order to increase both the individual and social perception concerning current and upcoming health problems. In this regard, a higher perception and awareness of health risks and their sanitary and economic consequences generated and fostered by professional media coverage is supposed to contribute to a better health situation of sub-Saharan societies. But there seem to be some barriers to professional journalism in African countries, e.g. financial dependences, which affect the journalistic health coverage and therewith the perception of health news as well.  


Against this background, in my PhD project I seek to examine the potentials and limits of health journalism to change public awareness of health issues in sub-Saharan African societies. Therefore, I will focus on general conditions of health journalism in selected sub-Saharan countries, in particular culture-bound health beliefs, and analyze the current situation of health journalism. In this context I will also analyze the roles of digital media use and Global Media Assistance. The primary aim of this PhD project is to examine the situation and social importance of health journalism in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, this study is going to analyze the importance of Global Media Assistance for health journalism in developing countries and to identify measures for improving health journalism in the long term.  


In terms of research methods, a qualitative and comparative research design will be employed. In particular, this study relies mainly on the analysis of documents/media and expert/problem focused interviews.             



Prof. Dr. Jens Loenhoff, Duisburg-Essen University



Fakultät für Geisteswissenschaften

Institut für Kommunikationswissenschaft

Universität Duisburg -Essen

Universitätsstraße 12

45141 Essen


Büro: R12 T03 F17

Sekretariat: Elke Sprünken

Fax: +49.201.183 3129