Category Archives: Talks and presentations

What are the keystone media in our information environment?

Later this month, I’m presenting a paper called “The Increasing Importance of Diminished Newspapers for Local Journalism?” at a conference on local journalism I’m organizing with Robert Picard at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

In the paper, I show how despite the fact that it is no longer a “mainstream medium” in terms of audience reach, the local newspaper in the community I study (Næstved, a mid-sized provincial Danish municipality with a population of 81,000) plays an absolutely central role in the wider local political information environment as by far the most important producer of ongoing, original, independently reported news about local affairs.

From the content I have coded, the newspaper accounts for 64% of all coverage of local politics, even in a community also served by two licence-fee funded regional public service broadcasters, several weekly freesheets, a community radio station, and shot through with national and international media as well as global online media like Google and Facebook. Furthermore, much of the (limited) local news content published by other media can be traced back to the newspaper.

I call the newspaper a “keystone medium” in the local political information environment, drawing an analogy to the idea of “keystone species” in conservation biology and zoology. There, the term is meant to capture the critical importance of particular species, who despite being only a small part of a larger interconnected ecology play an outsize role in defining the state and structure of the wider environment. In parallel, I define “keystone media” not in terms of their reach or ubiquity, but in terms of their systemic importance, their importance not for the majority of media users, but for the wider information environment they live in.

I’m thinking the notion of “keystone media” is a useful way of capturing the outsize importance of some entities in a wider environment and that it is an idea that works not only at the local level, but also nationally and internationally (think about news agencies, for example).

I’m not the first to point to the empirical fact that newspapers in many places play a central role in the production of news at the local level. In the US, for example the Project for Excellence in Journalism has done this in a study of Baltimore, Chris Anderson has done this in his great book on Philadelphia, and a series of community information case studies orchestrated by Tom Glaysier when he was still at the New America Foundation has done it.

But what I wanted to do is to make two particular points based on a close study on what sources of information are actually used in my case community and the information that these sources in turn produce and publish.

(1) Though the local newspaper is diminished in terms of reach and resources, it is ironically becoming more important for local information provision as other media pull out and cut their investment and no new providers have emerged. This is not simply a point about volume of production, but also about the environment in which things are produced.

(2) In community case studies done in the US people have generally found a vast ecology of other media outlets reusing and commenting upon news originally produced by local newspapers. That is not the case in the community studied here. Though several of the most widely used media sources of information about local politics in the community (including the regional public service broadcasters) in part base their coverage on stories first covered by the local newspaper, most of what the local newspaper covers does not make it any further in the news “food chain”–it is covered there, and nowhere else. Again, this is not simply a point about the newspaper, but about the environment in which it exists.

The notion of “keystone media” is meant to capture the structural (ecological, if you will) consequences of there being a newspaper in this community rather than there not being one (as in conservation biology).

The true importance of the paper in this community case study lies not in its role as a source of information seen from the users’ point of view (though about a third of the respondents in my survey data read the paper, very few identify the newspaper as their only important source of information about local politics), but as a producer of information that (a) matters because a small minority of it underlies the content produced by other media more widely used in the community but also, importantly, (b) matters because it is there at all, even when it has a limited readership and is not re-used and commented on elsewhere. (And we know from much media research that news coverage of public affairs can affect how politicians and government authorities behave even when the coverage does not routinely reach a large audience–the shadow of publicity is sometimes enough.)

In a time of more and more media, the local newspaper in this case play a structuring role for the entire local political information environment because–though it is only one of many media used as a source of information by citizens, and not a particularly widely used one–it is increasingly the only organization doing ongoing on-the-ground reporting on local public affairs. (Despite Danes having some of the highest levels of internet use and digital device ownership in the world, as well as being avid “joiners” in Robert Putnam’s parlance, active in any number of civic associations, Denmark has not seen the emergence very many significant non-profit or hyperlocal online-only news sources.)

In short, it plays a role as what I am currently thinking of as that of “keystone media” in our political information environments.

The full paper abstract is below. The paper is based on data from a larger research project on local political communication and municipal democracy in a changing media environment that I am pursuing with Nina Blom Andersen and Pernille Almlund from Roskilde University. This is work in progress, so I’d be curious to hear of people working with related ideas or people who think this is nonsense.

The increased importance of diminished newspapers for local journalism? – a case study of sources and producers of information in a digitally connected community

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Roskilde University and the University of Oxford

Paper for “Local journalism around the world: professional practices, economic foundations, and political implications”, February 27-28, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford.

ABSTRACT

On the basis of a mixed-method study combining survey data, content analysis, and semi-structured interviews done in a strategically chosen case community in Denmark, this paper shows that the local daily newspaper, despite its diminished audience reach and editorial resources, has become an increasingly important node in the circulation of independent and professionally produced news about local affairs as other news organizations have pulled out of the locality and no new providers have emerged. Citizens in the community studied have access to more and more media, but less and less news, most of it originating with a single news organization—the local daily newspaper. The study suggests that local newspapers—reporting across platforms but still sustained by their eroding print business—despite the well-known challenges they face in a changing and increasingly digital media environment, despite their dwindling editorial resources, and despite their diminished reach, may thus ironically become more important for local journalism as our media environment change, because they increasingly are the only organizations doing ongoing on-the-ground reporting on local public affairs. They are not so much mainstream media—for the majority does not rely directly on them for information, and most of what they produce is disseminated no farther than to their own readers—as keystone media in a local information environment, playing a critical role in the production and circulation of information with ecological consequences well beyond their own audience.

Varieties of online gatekeeping

This week, I’ll be at the Rethinking Journalism II workshop organized by Chris Peters and others at Groningen University in the Netherlands.

I’ll speak Friday about varieties of online gatekeeping, and how we might analyze them. I don’t have the answer, but I’m working around ways of asking the question in a way that is intellectually interesting and practically useful, so I’m looking forward to feedback and suggestions, from the workshop participants, and from others interested in the topic.

My starting point is the notion of “gatekeeping”, used by journalism scholars to capture how news organizations filter information before it is passed on to users, and the observation that news organizations no longer occupy as central or singular a role as they have in the past in terms of doing this filtering work, as people increasingly rely on search engines like Google and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as ways of accessing news.

Sometimes, people will talk about these digital offerings as ways of getting “direct” access to information, as examples of “disintermediation”, but of course, Google and Facebook too filters information, based on for example the PageRank algorithm and the EdgeRank algorithm. If we want to understand how journalism works today and how people get informed about public affairs, we need to understand both these new digital intermediaries as forms of online gatekeepers, and we need to examine their interplay with more traditional forms of editorial gatekeeping.

Below is an extended version of the abstract I’ve submitted. I’ll be working on this in the spring, both on getting the question right and on actually making progress on fleshing it out empirically, so any and all comments are welcome.

Varieties of online gatekeeping: a cross-national comparative analysis of news media websites, search engines, and social networking sites as gateways to news

By Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (Roskilde University and the University of Oxford)

News media organizations like newspapers and broadcasters have long functioned as gatekeepers between news and audiences, but with the rise of digital media, the search engines and social networking sites that are central to how most people navigate online increasingly complement news media organizations as gatekeepers shaping what is displayed as news.

Journalism scholars have traditionally focused on the role of journalists and news media as gatekeepers (see e.g. Shoemaker et al, 2009), but a growing number of researchers (e.g. Barzilai-Nahon, 2008; Chin-Fook and Simmonds, 2001; Hintz, 2012; Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000) have highlighted the need for a broader approach to gatekeeping in wider networked information environments where technology is increasingly integral to traditional gatekeeping practices (Anderson, 2011; Thurman, 2011; Coddington and Holton, 2013; Meraz and Papacharissi, 2013) and where non-journalistic actors too serve as gates between news and audiences.

In this paper, I adopt such a broader approach and outline three varieties of online gatekeeping that each integrate different technologies in the gatekeeping process, but do so in different ways and for different purposes. The three varieties are (1) editorially-based gatekeeping processes (typically defining what information is displayed as news on news media websites), (2) link-based gatekeeping processes (the core of how search engines like Google select what information is displayed as news), and (3) affinity-based forms of gatekeeping (the operating principle behind how social networking sites like Facebook determine what information to display in users’ news feed).

Journalists, often working in legacy news media organizations, still play a key gatekeeping role in terms of defining what information constitutes “news”, and news media websites remain amongst the most important gateways to news online. But they are increasingly supplemented by other, second-order online gatekeepers like search engines and social networking sites that, while rarely producing original content defined as “news”, increasingly serve as alternative and supplementary gateways shaping, through link-based or affinity-based gatekeeping processes, what information people come across as news online. Even as journalists and news media may feel they are being “dis-intermediated”, new digital intermediaries are arising (Pariser, 2011; Foster, 2012; Nielsen, 2013).

On the basis of the Reuters Institute Digital News study (Newman and Levy, 2013), a representative survey of online news users conducted in 2013, I proceed from these three varieties of online gatekeeping to present a cross-national comparative analysis of their relative importance in seven developed democracies with different media systems (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US).

The comparative analysis demonstrates significant variation in the relative importance of each type of online gatekeeper from country to country as well as in-country variation by age, but also documents that search engines and social networking sites (overwhelmingly Google and Facebook) have in less than a decade come to rival news media websites in importance as gateways to news across all the seven countries covered.

Editorially-based online gatekeepers are the most widely used way of finding news online in countries like Denmark and the UK (with strong newspaper brands and public service broadcasters), link-based online gatekeepers (overwhelmingly Google) represent the most widely used gateway to news in countries like France and Italy (with weaker newspapers and public service broadcasters), and affinity-based online gatekeepers (most importantly Facebook) are the most widely used gateway to news amongst online news users in Spain (currently experiencing a major crisis of institutional legitimacy impacting legacy media as well as political institutions).

Editorially-based gatekeepers will remain important for the foreseeable future (especially as television remains the number one source of news for most people in most countries). But as online news become a more and more important part of people’s cross-media news habits in most countries, link-based and affinity-based online gatekeepers are likely to become more important parts of our networked news environment, raising new questions concerning what media pluralism means in an increasingly convergent world, concerning what information is made available to citizens and how, and concerning the future journalism and its role in democracy.

Future of Journalism, Cardiff Conference round-up

I spent the last two days in Cardiff for Bob Franklin’s biannual journalism studies conference hosted by the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC). Lots of good stuff and great to see folks and catch up on interesting work being done around the world. (Full program here, abstracts of all papers here.)

Three take-aways from panels and discussions I attended (more at #FoJ2013 on Twitter for those interested)—

First, local and regional journalism and news information environments–

It was very refreshing to see several very good pieces of empirical research on the particular questions concerning local and regional journalism and news information environments in different contexts. I was particularly impressed with the work being done by Andy Williams and colleagues on local and hyperlocal journalism in the UK, Julie Firmstone and Stephen Coleman’s work-in-progress on the local information environment in Leeds (including studies of the city council, legacy news, and new digital sites), as well as research by Piet Bakker and colleagues from the Netherlands on developments there. Very good stuff. It would be great to see more studies from other countries so we can develop a more comparative understanding of what is going on with local news and information environments in different contexts. (Some work has been done in the US too.)

Second,the ubiquity of the New York Times–

It is clear that the New York Times continues to hold enormous sway over the imagination of both journalists and journalism studies scholars thinking about digital and digital strategy. As Piet Bakker rightly remarked after Robert Picard’s keynote lecture, “everyone talks about the same three examples: the New York Times, financial newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, and the Guardian.” Of course, all of these are highly unusual cases, from which we can probably learn relatively little about how digital is developing and working out for other news organizations, including top titles in small national markets (that is, much of Western Europe), but also, apropos my point above, local and regional newspapers like the Western Mail in Wales (studied by Williams et al), the Yorkshire Post (studied by Firmstone and Coleman), and their equivalents in other countries. As I’ve argued before—as many others have—even if we have to recognize the empirical fact that the New York Times figures prominently in how lots of people talk and think about digital strategy, the actual news organization and company itself probably can’t even tell us much about how other US newspapers are faring, let alone how newspapers elsewhere are faring. There’s an analogy here to the role for example the Barack Obama campaign plays in discussions of digital politics. (As Oscar Westlund pointed out in one discussion, it’s well known from studies of organizational learning that you often make your biggest mistakes when you learn from the wrong examples.)

Third,lots of good, theoretically and methodologically diverse, work on digital–

Journalism studies continues to catch up on digital, lots of good work on innovation, the integration of new technologies in newsrooms and work practices, how ordinary people engage with news etc through digital, and also some work across platforms that takes digital seriously without giving up on legacy or ignoring legacy media’s enduring importance. The field of journalism studies, from my impression, has done a better job of overcoming sharp analogue/digital distinctions and “old media”/”new media” binaries than many other areas of media and communication studies including, I hate to admit as someone who also has an intellectual home there, parts of political communication research. In part, it is good to see how a conference like this draws not only people who consider themselves journalism studies scholars, but also a sizable contingent of audience researchers (very interesting papers by Regina Marchi from the US and by Tim Groot Kormelink and Irene Costera Meier from the Netherlands on tailor-made news), a few media economists, people studying management, etc. This kind of diversity is surely a necessary part of understanding journalism today.

Prospects for global and national news, what about local?

Developments at leading national newspapers building their (paying) digital audience both in-country and internationally give reason for some cautious optimism concerning the future of global and national news, but it is not clear that we can learn much from the models rolled out at these papers when it comes to the important question of the future of local and regional news.

That’s one of my takeaways from a fabulous 30th Anniversary Weekend celebrating the Reuters Institute’s fellowship program for journalists from around the world. (The program’s 30th anniversary, not mine…)

In addition to a great chance to catch up with fellows and friends from around the world, the weekend provided for several interesting discussions of developments in the business of journalism around the world, with presentations by the new New York Times Company CEO Mark Thompson, Natalie Nougayrede, the editor-in-chief of the French daily newspaper Le Monde, and John Stackhouse, editor-in-chief of the Canadian Globe and Mail.

A few highlights from their presentations—

  • All of them recognized the challenges their organizations have faced and still face in a changing media environment, but all also spoke with confidence and vision about a future in which an expanded range of editorial content across more platform and a greater reliance on reader (viewer/listener/user) payment will continue to provide us with great journalism.
  • All stress their ambition to stand out from the empty calories of breaking news “churnalism” to create value for their users (in Nougayrede’s words: we need to get it first, but also get it right and get it rich). Especially Mark Thompson spoke out very strongly against the idea of “paid advertorials” or “native advertising” blurring the line between editorial and advertising.
  • All predict hybrid print-digital models for the foreseeable future—Mark Thompson said that internal modeling at the NYT suggest that print will be a key part of the company and news organization “for much longer than many people imagine”.
  • All present business models based on print sales and advertising revenues combined with digital advertising plus an increased emphasis on digital sales and an expanding range of ancillary products based on each news organization’s brand and reputation (conferences, seminars, etc).
  • All of them are heading news organizations with lower revenues today than in the 1990s, but all are also painting a picture where the coming years may look better than the dramatic declines of 2007-2012.

It was all very interesting, and many of the journalists in the audience remarked that it was refreshing to hear such confident and relatively upbeat presentations after years of doom and gloom, at least in North America and much of Europe.

Of course, all three speakers are keen to promote their vision for their respective title, and to boost their future prospects, but I thought every one of them remained mostly reality-based on their presentations and I agree that there are reasons for cautious optimism when it comes to the future of titles like especially the New York Times, but also nationally-dominant quality brands with some potential for global reach like the Le Monde (Nougayrede spoke of plans to expand the title’s presence in Francophone Africa, where some countries have a sizable and growing professional class).

But, just sticking to the case of the New York Times and Le Monde, I continue to wonder how much we can really learn from their experience when it comes to the future of other newspapers, especially local and regional newspapers and newspapers in smaller countries.

Mark Thompson quoted Chris Anderson, Emily Bell, and Clay Shirky’s important caveat in their report on “Post-Industrial Journalism” from last year to the effect that every statement in discussions of the future of journalism that begins with the sentence “let’s take the New York Times as an example” ought to be discounted because the NYT’s experience really isn’t representative of anything else. It is in a set of one, and only few other titles, perhaps the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, can be compared with it in any meaningful way.

Even the step from being a leading national title (with considerable global potential) in a market of 315 million to being amongst the top titles in markets of 60 million (like France) with less global potential is huge in terms of getting to critical mass both in terms of digital advertising and digital sales. The situation in a country like my native Denmark, with a population of 5.5 million (less than New York City or Paris alone) is of course very different.

For both national papers in smaller countries and regional and local papers in bigger ones, the problem of critical mass—which is central both when it comes to digital advertising revenues and digital sales, where people often speak of aiming for a “conversation rate” of maybe 1 per cent of monthly unique visitors signing up as paying readers—is even more pressing than at titles with potential for global reach. Mark Thompson called the New York Times a relative minnow when it comes to digital advertising (volume is required both to generate revenue and to enable good behavioral targeting of advertising). He is right, of course, when comparing the Times to Google, Facebook, etc, but if the NYT is a minnow, I don’t know what the word would then be for other newspapers.

We can see the problems of reaching critical mass both in small countries like Denmark, where even the top national newspapers are in a situation quite different from that of the New York Times or even Le Monde. The New York Times can support a newsroom with more than 1,000 journalists in a country of 315 million (with an additional about ten percent of its digital subscribers from the rest of the world). Divide that by 60 to get to Danish size, and you would have a newsroom of less than 20. Even after several years of cost-cutting, the newsroom at a title like Berlingske (currently being shopped around by its debt-burdened British owners Mecom) is much, much larger than that, but it remains an open question for how long it can sustain such an investment in quality journalism.

We can also see the problem of critical mass at the hundreds of local and regional daily papers that make up the majority of the US newspaper industry, employ the majority of US journalists, and produce much of the independent coverage of public affairs. The Newark-based Star-Ledger, for example, is critical in terms of covering New Jersey’s notoriously corrupt and incestuous politics (what other Western newspaper has a section simply called “corruption”?). Based across the Hudson River from the New York Times, it is losing money even though it has a daily paid circulation larger than Le Monde or several Danish daily papers combined (over 340,000 on weekdays). And though it is growing its digital subscriber base, it is hard for the Star-Ledger to build a digital business, as many of the readers it caters to already get some local news for free via broadcast and web from local television stations etc and many get much of their national and international coverage from national sources or larger neighboring newspapers like the Philadelphia Inquirer (in South Jersey) and the New York Times (in North Jersey). The recent trouble at AOL’s Patch and Advance Publication’s decision to scrap AnnArbor.com suggest that online-only hyperlocal journalism is even harder to sustain on a commercial basis. The problems of rapidly eroding print revenues and very limited growth in terms of digital revenue also bedevils much of the European local and regional press (though there seems to be some exceptions such as in Finland where the regional press seems to be doing better than the national press).

So, even though the presentations by Mark Thompson and even Natalie Nougayrede from Le Monde provided some reasons for cautious optimism when it comes to the future of global and national news, I’m not sure we can learn all that much from the experience of the New York Times when it comes to newspapers in smaller national markets or when it comes to regional or local newspapers.

This problem—especially the future of local and regional news—is thus intellectually distinct from the problem of the future of national and global news, and of separate importance not only for the business of journalism, but also very much for democracy. Though news tend to focus on national politics and national issues, most of our lives are lived locally, and much of our politics and government play out locally, watched by and reported on by ever fewer journalists. That, I think, is a problem in terms of accountability and in terms of the independent sources of information available to citizens about local public affairs.

An ever-more unequal playing field? Campaign communications across digital, “earned”, and paid media

Cristian Vaccari and I will be presenting a first slice of our 2012 data on campaign communications in competitive U.S. congressional districts across digital media, “earned media” (news coverage) and paid media (campaign expenditures on advertising, canvassing, direct mail, online marketing, etc) at the American Political Science Association 2013 annual meeting in Chicago.

We show that most of these forms of campaign communication are highly unevenly distributed. A minority of candidates draw far more supporters, more news coverage, and raise more money than the rest, even when one is looking only at major party candidates (Democrats and Republicans) running in similarly competitive districts.

Contrary to the view that the internet may help “level the playing field”, we find that popularity on digital media like Facebook is in fact far more concentrated than both visibility in mainstream news media and money raised and spent during the campaign. (This is in line with Matt Hindman’s earlier work on the winner-take-all tendencies of much political communication online.)

Three key empirical take-aways from the paper—

  1. Most candidates draw limited news coverage and few supporters on social media like Facebook and Twitter, and hence remain highly dependent on paid media to reach voters, despite the fact that almost all of them use almost all the digital media at their disposal (websites, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc).
  2. In both 2010 and 2012, paid media is unevenly distributed, earned media/news coverage is more unevenly distributed, and digital media/social media followings the most unevenly distributed. (Social media in 2010 discussed in greater detail here.)
  3. The general (uneven) pattern is the same in 2010 and 2012. If anything the inequality increases, especially in the case of digital media. Hence the notion of an ever-more unequal playing field as digital media—the most unevenly distributed form of campaign communication we examine—becomes relatively more important.

Abstract below, full paper here. We’d be interested in comments as this is work-in-progress and we are very interested in how to best compare the apples and oranges of digital media, earned media, and paid media in a meaningful way.

 An Ever-More Unequal Playing Field? Comparing Congressional Candidates Across Digital Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (Roskilde and Oxford)

and

Cristian Vaccari (Royal Holloway and Bologna)

 Abstract

 In this study, we analyze patterns of digital media, earned media, and paid media performance among major-party candidates in competitive U.S. Congressional districts in the 2010 (N=112) and 2012 (N=120) election cycles. Based on standard concentration indices, we analyze the distribution of (1) interest from internet users (“digital media”), (2) visibility in news coverage (“earned media”), and (3) campaign expenditures (as an indicator of “paid media” like direct mail, television advertising, and online marketing) across a strategic sample of 464 candidates engaged in competitive races for the House of Representatives. We show that most of these forms of campaign communication are highly concentrated. A minority of candidates draw far more supporters, more news coverage, and raise more money than the rest. Contrary to the view that the internet may help “level the playing field”, we find that popularity on digital media like Facebook is in fact far more concentrated than both visibility in mainstream news media and money raised and spent during the campaign. By 2012, the most popular candidate in a district drew on average almost nine times as many social media supporters as her direct rival, compared to three and a half times as many local news stories and about four times as many dollars spent. The differences in terms of digital media and paid media had both increased since 2010, while the differences in terms of earned media had decreased. Thus, while success on the internet might occasionally benefit challengers and outsiders in US major-party politics, the overall competitive environment on the web is far from a level playing field and may in some ways exacerbate inequalities between resource-rich and resource-poor candidates. As digital media become more important parts of the overall communication environment, we may thus be moving towards a more uneven playing field.

2012 Midwest Political Science Association round-up

Earlier this month, I attended the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association (one of my fixtures, having attended it more or less every year for five years or so).

A trio of highlights–one thing I did, a couple of things I attended, and one thing I did not attend but later caught up on.

First, doing–I had the pleasure of presenting some work in progress by Cristian Vaccari and myself, where we ask “What Drives Politicians’ Online Popularity?”  (the paper opens as a .doc here) on the basis of the same dataset underlying this previous paper. The panel, entitled “Campaigns, Elections & Technology” was one of those rare conference panels that had actual intellectual coherence to both the line-up of presenters and the discussion itself. Ben Epstein, Sounman Hong, and Christine B. Williams and Jeff Gulati all presented interesting papers. Betsy Sinclair did a great job as our respondent, and there was a good discussion with people in the audience afterwards, including Dave Karpf, Kevin Wallsten and others.

Second, attending–A couple of other panels I enjoyed were (1) “Mass Media and the Policy Process” were John Lovett and Frank Baumgartner presented a very strong paper asking when there is a single media agende, analyzing data over time, across issues, and between different outlets to show how media attention goes in and out of focus and (2) “Congressional Campaign Advertising” where a strong line-up examined various forms of strategic positioning vis-a-vis party brands, and the ways in which candidates and campaigns think about these choices and execute them.

Third, not doing, but catching up–I missed the presentation of a very interesting paper on “Career Concerns and the Behavior of Political Consultants in Congressional Elections” by Gregory J.Martin and Zachary Peskowitz from Stanford, but the paper can be downloaded here and it is a really neat piece of work that help advance our understanding of political consultants and the work they do.

April 2012 book talks

This is going to be a big month for me–I’m taking my book Ground Wars on the road in the US, and will give nine talks about the book at various universities and conferences around the country.

The list is below, details TBA for a few of them.

  • Monday April 9, 12-2pm, George Washington University, Washington D.C.
  • Tuesday April 10, 11-12.30pm, American University, Washington D.C.
  • Wednesday April 11, 10-12pm, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Thursday April 12, 4-6pm, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
  • Friday April 13, 4:35-6.15pm – Midwest Political Science Association 70th Annual Conference (I’m speaking as part of Panel 55-2 on political anthropology)
  • Monday April 16, 12-2pm, Columbia University, New York, New York (a comeback at my old school, in a colloquium series I used to organize)
  • Tuesday April 17, 6pm-8pm, New York University, Institute for Public Knowledge
  • Wednesday April 18, 12-1.3opm, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut
  • Thursday April 19, 4.30-6.30pm, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Then Friday April 20, I’m speaking at the International Symposium on Online Journalism in Texas-Austin, but not about the book–though after nine talks, who knows, I may automatically start talking about political campaigns rather than the journalistic online-start ups I’m supposed to focus on…

It’s been great to present the book in the UK and Denmark over the last two months but this of course is something special, a chance to talk about American politics with Americans, including in at least one instance with people who have worked on one of the campaigns I deal with in the book–that’s going to be a blast and a great experience, I’m sure.

Ground Wars on the road (March round-up)

I’ve given three talks about Ground Wars in Denmark in March, all have made for interesting discussions.

First of all, even taking into account the self-selection involved, people here are just really interested in and quite knowledgeable about American politics. That made for good conversation.

Second, we’ve just had a general election in the fall of 2011 where a few parties and trade unions worked with the kind of personalized political communication I analyze in the book, so obviously many people were interested in differences and similarities between US and Danish experiences. (I’ve written about that a while back.)

In April, I’m off to the US to give a string of talks in between two conferences, and I’m really looking forward to taking the book on the road and discussing it with people who really follow American political campaigns very closely—at the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers, where I’m speaking April 19, I happen to know several people who worked on one of the campaigns I studied are coming. It will be particularly interesting to catch up with them again and hear their perspectives.

March 2012 book talks

I’m taking Ground Wars on the road in Denmark in March, with three events coming up–

Tuesday March 13, 7pm- at Frit Forum, Reventlowsgade 14, Copenhagen. Frit Forum is a Social Democrat-affiliated student organization. The Social Democrats were one of the party with the most ambitious “ground war”-type operations in the 2011 Danish General Election, so this will hopefully provide an interesting opportunity to hear about people’s experiences with field campaigning in Denmark.

Thursday March 15, 5pm-7pm at Operate (Jesper Brochmands Gade 10, Copenhagen), with Kommunikationsforeningen. This event is organized by the professional association for people working with communications, and also includes Rune Baastrup, who was one of the key people behind the labor union 3F’s work with personalized communication in the run up to the 2011 election and in terms of organizing and community-building. It should make for a great discussion.

Thursday March 29, 2pm-4pm at Copenhagen Business School, Center for the Study of the Americas. (Details to come.) CSA is one of the most interesting research environments in Denmark dealing with American issues, and I’ll be appearing alongside Niels Bjerre Poulsen who is a well-known Danish historian and expert on US politics, so it’s sure to be another interesting event.

February 2012 book talks

Monday February 13, 5pm-6.30pm at the Rothermere American Institute in Oxford. This is the official launch of my book, a talk moderated by Nigel Bowles with Tom Wales serving as a respondent, to be followed by a wine reception. The RAI is an ideal venue for this, first of course because it is the hub of all things American in Oxford, but also because I finished my revisions on the manuscript in their wonderful library. The venue is here.

Tuesday February 21, 5.15pm-6.30pm at the New Political Communications Unit, Royal Holloway, University of London. This event is hosted by Andrew Chadwick whose work I’ve learned much from, so I’m looking forward to discussing the book with him, his colleagues, and the rest of the RHU community. The venue is here.

Wednesday February 22 (time and location TBA) at the Communication and Media Research Institute at the University of Westminster My host is Anastasia Kavada, with whom I’ve had many an animated conversation about digital politics and protest at various conferences. It’s my first visit to CAMRI, an internationally famous media and communications department, so I’m sure it will make for very interesting conversation.

More information upcoming on talks in March (in Denmark) and April (in the United States). Stay tuned…