Category Archives: Comparative media research

2015 International Journal of Press/Politics Book Award to Rodney Benson

I’m happy to announce that Rodney Benson (NYU) is the recipient of the 2015 International Journal of Press/Politics Book Award for his book Shaping Immigration News: a French-American Comparison (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Below is the official announcement of the award from the full award committee, which included Jesper Strömback, Matt Carlson, and myself.

2015 International Journal of Press/Politics Book Award to Rodney Benson

It is one thing to say how you think media and politics should be researched, theoretically and methodologically. It is another to do it.

Rodney Benson has for years excelled at writing both theoretical, methodological, and empirical pieces laying out his vision—and his practice—of what political communication research and journalism studies can be like and what it can accomplish.

His 2013 book Shaping Immigration News: a French-American Comparison is an outstanding example of this, and I’m proud to honor it with the 2015 International Journal of Press/Politics Book Award on behalf of the journal and the award committee, which this year consisted of Jesper Strömback, Matt Carlson, and myself.

This is the first year we give the IJPP Book Award, which we have instituted to honor “internationally-oriented books that advance our theoretical and empiric al understanding of the linkages between news media and politics in a globalized world in a significant way.”

Books published within the last ten years are eligible for the award, and we had a very strong field of candidates. This is a real testament to the theoretical creativity, methodological rigor, and growing internationalization of this field of research.

The award committee agreed that Rod’s book stood out as carefully written and researched work with a clear and strong link between theory, method, and data, and with an impressive comparative research design comparing immigration news in France and the US not only cross-nationally, but also over time, and linking a detailed, large-scale content analysis with historical evidence, interviews, and a wider analysis of the journalistic fields in each country.

As Matt Carlson said early in our discussions: “Lot’s of people have talked and thought for a long time about this, and about how to do it. Rod really does it.” And as Jesper Strömback put it in our final conversation: “This is the kind of book we always say we want to see, but don’t often see.” I agree with them.

This is a terrific book, an inspiring book, and one that is important far beyond the study of immigration news or indeed the study of French and American journalism. This is a mixed-method, historically-informed, comparative analysis of news regimes that not only tells us how to do good research, but shows it, unfolding the theoretical, empirical, and normative implications of its findings.

I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Rod for writing this book. The award is simply a way for the community to recognize and highlight his contribution to the field.

Come work with me!

We at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism are recruiting for a one-year post-doctoral research fellowship for someone to come to Oxford and work closely with me on a research project focused on how news media organizations in different countries handle their relationship with digital intermediaries, and how these in turn handle their relationship with news media.

Clearly, this is a very timely and live issue, with the growing role of search engines and social media as drivers of traffic to news online, with Facebook offering to host news content, and with Google’s launch of their “Digital News Initiative” in Europe. It is a project I’m really looking forward to working on and were I’m particularly keen to find the right colleague.

The application deadline is June 5.

More details here.

Inaugural Int’ Journal of Press/Politics Editorial

My inaugural editorial for the International Journal of Press/Politics is now out.

A couple of snippets below.

[The International Journal of Press/Politics’] purpose has been a constant for almost twenty years, from when the journal was first launched in 1996. … [The] title continues to capture what it is about. It is international in that it is dedicated to research that transcends its geographic context, making an explicit contribution not only to our understanding of political communication in a single country—whether that country is the United States or Uzbekistan—but also with relevance across the world, either because it clearly specifies the conditions under which the empirical results may be relevant elsewhere or because it makes a theoretical or methodological contribution along with a clear argument about how this might be applicable in other contexts. It is about the press in the broad sense of news media in all their variations of hard news, soft news, punditry, and opinion across all platforms, whether analogue or digital. It is about politics in an equally broad sense to include not only election campaigns and the candidates and parties most directly involved but also policy processes between elections and political actors beyond electoral politics, including governments, interest groups, and social movements. The ideal article in the International Journal of Press/Politics delivers a rigorous analysis covering all these three bases. Submissions covering less than two of these three bases, or that remain wholly internal to a highly specialized scholarly subfield, are likely to get a (polite) desk reject and a suggestion they go elsewhere. We are proud to publish high-quality country case studies, but they have to be positioned as such to make an international contribution. We are happy to accept articles from scholars who are clearly positioned in one discipline or approach, but they should be placed in a wider and often interdisciplinary context.


My aim as editor is to ensure that the International Journal of Press/Politics continues to advance our understanding of the interactions between news media and political processes around the world and to serve the international and interdisciplinary community of scholars working in this area of research. Ultimately, a journal is what the people who submit to it, review for it, and edit it make it. My predecessors as editors, past and present members of the editorial board, as well as the contributors and peer reviewers who have been involved, have made the International Journal of Press/Politics what it is today. I want to thank all of them—in particular Silvio Waisbord, who has been a tremendous help as I prepared to take over as editor—for all their work. I will edit the journal in the spirit of those who have done so before, and aim to serve and expand the intellectual community around it.

Review of “Political Journalism in Transition”

Simon Dawes has written a very nice review of Political Journalism in Transition: Western Europe in a Comparative Perspective (which was published in 2014 by I.B. Tauris, edited by Raymond Kuhn and myself).

The review is published in Media, Culture, and Society and concludes

The authors get to the heart of contemporary debates about the future of media regulation and the extent of state intervention, the role of the market and the importance of autonomy and independence. In illustrating the contextual differences between media systems and journalistic practices in the ‘West’, they also contribute to a more informed critique of the realities of political information, engagement and accountability, as well as a richer understanding of the causes and background of recent scandals involving both political and media figures.

The full review is here. The first chapter of our book is freely available here and the the book can be bought from the publisher, Amazon, or, if you live in a truly unusual community, your local bookstore.

Starting new job as Director of Research and Development in Oxford

In January, I’m taking up a new job as Director of Research and Development at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford and moving back to the UK.

My role is to expand the institute’s internationally-oriented, practically-relevant academic research agenda and develop further ties to practicing journalists and media industry professionals around the world.

I’m excited to take up this position and work with colleagues both at the institute and in the news industry, as well as throughout the very strong academic environments at the University of Oxford, including partners in the Department of Politics and International Relations, the Oxford Internet Institute, and the Saïd Business School and elsewhere.

I am taking a leave of absence from my faculty position at Roskilde University but will continue to collaborate with my many good colleagues there, including our Center for Power, Media, and Communication, which is involved in the Reuters Institute Digital News Report project.

Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered—Barcelona workshop

Just arrived for “The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered: Cultural Power” (May 2- 3), organized by Jeffrey Alexander, Elizabeth Butler Breese, and Maria Luengo at the Social Trends Institute.

The workshop aims to bring more culturally-oriented and sociological perspectives into play to understand contemporary journalism, and move beyond the tendency in some circles to focus mostly on economics and technology.

Not done reading all the papers yet, but a couple of highlights from the program (I’m sure there are other gems)—

  • Daniel Kreiss on journalism as “organized skepticism”. Work in progress, but I’m curious to hear more about this, not sure the profession is particularly skeptical, or even that we should wish it to be primarily skeptical.
  • Nikki Usher on how journalists’ professional preoccupation with scoops may be at least as much to blame for “hamsterization” as new technologies that enable more immediate publication, akin to Rod Tiffen’s work on what he calls journalism’s sometimes “institutionally perverse” competitive ethos.
  • Chris Anderson on how professional journalism in the US, in the 20th century almost aggressively ignorant of its audience, is coming to terms with an ever-growing number of forms of audience metrics, forms of audience engagement, etc that complicates it’s relation to the public it claims to and aims to serve.

My own paper is called “The Many Crises of Western Journalism” and presents a big-picture comparison of economic, professional, and symbolic crises in journalism across six affluent democracies.

The figure below summarize the general thrust of the empirical argument—Northern European countries like Finland and Germany do not yet face the economic and professional crises seen elsewhere, but there too, journalism faces a symbolic crisis as many people have low confidence in news. Mediterranean European countries like France and Italy have both an old and a new economic crisis to contend with (already weak industry hit hard by digital), a profession that has never developed the same kind of occupational autonomy from politics and proprietors seen elsewhere, and low confidence in news. In the US, journalism faces a new economic crisis connected to the rise of digital over the last years, challenges to the status of the profession itself, as well as a decades-old symbolic crisis of confidence as many people have little confidence in news.

In short, different kinds of crisis and different degrees of crises, but a common theme running across these otherwise different Western countries being low public confidence in much journalism (I rely on World Values Survey data for this, see also Jonathan Ladd’s detailed analysis of why American’s don’t trust the news).

I’ve left out of this whether some Western governments behavior towards journalism in itself represent a distinct additional crisis, see for example the report by the Committee to Protect Journalism “The Obama Administration and the Press: Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America” and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers’ Report “UK Press Freedom Report”, also concerned with monitoring and pressure on journalists. Both makes for very worrying reading.

Who should we invite to the Oxford Editor and CEO Forum next year?

Good company...

Good company…

Re-reading summary notes from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s Oxford Editor and CEO Forum last week. Chatham House Rules etc, so I will just quote the official RISJ post about the event—

Editors in Chief and CEOs from 10 countries for 24 hours of in-depth and off the record discussions on some of the key opportunities and challenges involved in running a news organisation in the 21st century.

The forum included participants from India (the Hindu), Japan (the Asahi Shimbun) and Latin America (La Nacion from Argentina) but with the majority from Europe (the Irish Times, Le Monde, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Berlingske, the Huffington Post Italy, the Guardian and the Financial Times.)

Issues covered included the implications for journalism of the Edward Snowden affair, different approaches to paying for news online, the challenges of innovation in legacy news organisations, to the debate around sponsored content and the rules that should surround that.

I thought it was a very good discussion, but we are always looking for ways of improving.

We plan to arrange another Forum next year, so the question really is, who should we invite?

The focus will remain on private sector news organizations and retain at least a partial emphasis on the business of journalism, but as long as it doesn’t bring together people so far apart it reduce the conversation to conflict, it would be good with more disruptors to add to what legacy media bring to the table.

I’m thinking maybe someone from the advertising world, certainly someone from tech, and more pure players.

Email, DM, etc me with ideas—all welcome.