Category Archives: Uncategorized

Predictions for journalism in 2015–politicized digital intermediaries

The good folks at the NiemanLab at Harvard have asked a bunch of people to offer their predictions of something that will matter for journalism in 2015.

I wrote my piece about the increasing politicization of spectacularly successful, incredibly useful, and more and more powerful U.S.-based digital intermediaries like Google and Facebook, companies that face push-back and pressures from other interests.

“Just as the popular and commercial success of Google and Facebook is virtually global, so are the questions raised by the increasingly powerful position they occupy in the media environment. But because the answers are in part political, and (much) politics is local, the reactions are likely to vary from country to country. In 2015, we’ll see this discussion intensify and develop.”

With high-profile cases of this in for example France, Germany, and Spain, it is easy to charicature this as an legacy-old-media-old-world-Europe vs innovation-new-media-new-world-US issue (as it frequently is).

This is a misrepresentation. First of all, the issue is much broader than US-Europe. Second, many companies in the US itself are pushing back against Google and the like by all means available, including lobbying etc.

Lot’s of terrific pieces, all collected here.

Nice new review of “Ground Wars”

New review out of my book Ground Wars: Personalized Political Communication (Princeton University Press, 2012).

Dennis W. Johnson writes very kindly:

This is a groundbreaking study; I have learned much from it and believe it will be an important addition to the field of campaigns and elections. It will be just as valuable as Green and Gerber’s Get Out the Vote, with its analysis of various communications techniques and ground-war activities. The Obama presidential campaigns set the gold standard for technology and ground-war effectiveness, and many other state and localcampaigns have followed suit. As campaign technology becomes more sophisticated
and the ground war becomes more of a strategic tool, other scholars should be looking into this important field as well.
Full review (in the International Journal of Press/Politics) here.

Taking over as editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics

January 1, 2015, I’m taking over as editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics after Silvio Waisbord.

I regard IJPP as the premier journal for genuinely international and comparative work focused on the intersection between news media (broadly conceived) and politics (equally broadly conceived) and as a journal dedicated to publishing theoretically and methodologically diverse social science work of high quality focused on substantially important problems.

At least that’s what Sage has published so far under Silvio and other previous editors, so now I have something to live up to. An “important but tough job” as one experienced colleague told me. I’m looking forward to it.

Nice review of “Political Journalism in Transition”

LSE Review of Books has a nice review of Political Journalism in Transition: Western Europe in a Comparative Perspective (I.B. Tauris) which I’ve edited with Raymond Kuhn.

The final verdict by Joseph Peralta:

Political Journalism in Transition remains one of the most comprehensive, interdisciplinary comparative analysis of political journalism that is currently in print. Any analysis that features these confounding and intersecting historico-political elements could have easily resulted in a heady, impractical work, but this bipartite anthology offers a complete resource that is straightforward and digestible. It is a handy, relevant resource for scholars of political journalism and critical media studies worldwide, as well as for news and public affairs practitioners who stand to gain from a nuanced understanding of the factors, both obvious and overlooked, that are shaping political journalism today.

Whole review here. Book also available on Amazon.

Danish discussion of surveillance by NSA and others

Spoke yesterday at a debate hosted by the newspaper Information, the Danish Journalists’ Association, and the IT University about the NSA scandal, including its Danish subsidiary (spying during the COP15 negotiations, a story broken by Information working with Laura Poitras on the basis of documents leaked by Snowden and subsequently covered around the world).

I focused on how journalists are not only reliant on brave individual wRKN(1)histle-blowers like Snowden and Manning in covering these kinds of stories, but also enabled and empowered by real political debate and popular interest.

This we have in for example Germany, but is all-too-often often absent when the political elite close ranks or some top news organizations chose not to pursue a story.

It was a great event overall with Ewen MacAskill from the Guardian and a host of Danish journalists and others commenting, coinciding of course with the publication of Glenn Greenwald’s book.

Video of the here (all but Ewen MacAskill in Danish), more on Twitter at #nsadk

Political Journalism in Transition—new book officially out

Political Journalism in Transition—Western Europe in a Comparative Perspective, a new book I’ve edited with Raymond Kuhn, is now officially out in the Reuters Institute book series published by I.B. Tauris.

Pol JourThe book is what it says on the tin—it takes stock of how political journalism operates today and how it has changed over the last decade in a range of different Western European countries.

The first chapter and index is available here, the book is for sale on Amazon here.

We are lucky to have in the book both great country case studies and a number of chapters dealing with cross-cutting themes.

In our introduction, Raymond and I make clear that there are several examples of both change and continuity in political journalism that are similar across most of Western Europe.

Continuity includes the enduring centrality of legacy media organizations like newspapers and broadcasters both in terms of (1) news production and (2) news dissemination, across both digital and non-digital platforms, as well as (3) the “legitimist” vision of political journalism which generally operates within a sphere of “legitimate controversy” that is marked out by electoral politics (and sometimes does not even fully include all of electoral politics as when elected representative of far-right and far-left populist parties are treated quite differently from more “mainstream” politicians).

Changes common across Western Europe includes an (1) accelerated news cycle (driven by 24-hour rolling television and increasingly social media), (2) a shifting balance of power between a reduced number of journalists producing more content for more platforms and an (3) increased number of communication professionals servicing top political actors, and of course the increased importance of digital media.

But though these are clear, shared trends, there are also pronounced, consequential, and enduring national differences, as shown by the countries analyzed in the book, where we have chapters on the specificities of political journalism in France (Raymond), Italy (Alessio Cornia), Germany (Carsten Reinemann and Philip Baugut), Denmark (Mark Blach-Ørsten), and the UK (Aeron Davis).

In terms of cross-cutting themes, we cover changes in coverage of the European Union (Oliver Baisnee), the role of public service broadcasting (Stephen Cushion), differences and similarities between political journalism in the United States and Western Europe (myself), long-term trends in political reporting (Andrea Umbricht and Frank Esser) as well as the evolution of international news coverage (Kevin Williams).

Throughout the book, we show that political journalism in Western Europe is characterized by similarity and differences as well as change and continuity, and most of our authors argue there is no underlying convergence on one “Western European” model of political journalism. Of the countries we cover, especially Italy continues to stand out from Northern Europe, but differences between the UK and for examples Germany and Denmark are also pronounced.

We hope the book will be useful for scholars and students interested in Western Europe in particular, but also more generally for an international audience interested in cross-national and cross-regional differences and similarities in the workings of political journalism, and in how it is changing in part due to internal professional dynamics, but also in response to changes in the media industry more broadly, and changes in our political systems.

Paper for “Transforming Audiences” in London

Below is the abstract of the paper Kim Christian Schrøder and I present at the Transforming Audiences conference in London.

Basically, we use data from the Reuters Institute Digital News survey to assess the relative importance of social media as sources of, ways of finding, and ways of engaging with news across eight developed democracies with, in a global perspective, high levels of internet use.

We show that television is still the most widely used and most important source of news, that the websites of legacy media are very important online, and that, though much of the population use social media like Facebook for social and other purposes, only a minority use these sites as ways of engaging in more participatory forms of news use, and that social networking sites are not generally considered particularly important sources of news, even by the younger cohorts.

Two key tables and full abstract below.

Sources of newsParticipating in news

The role of social media in the news information cycle—an eight-country comparative analysis

By Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and Kim Christian Schrøder

The increasingly widespread use of social media like Facebook and Twitter is in the process of changing how news is produced, shared, and discussed. Studies of individual events, processes, and sites have led researchers to suggest that we are moving from a traditional “news cycle” dominated by journalists and professional sources to a more complex “information cycle” that integrates ordinary people in the ongoing construction and contestation of news (Chadwick, 2011), that new “participatory cultures”  increasingly complement existing consumer cultures (Jenkins et al 2006), and that the dichotomy between producers and users is being blurred by the rise of active “produsage” where social media users take the lead in content creation and dissemination (Bruns, 2007). But so far, we have had only a vague understanding of (a) how important social media are as sources of news and ways of finding news relative to other sources, (b) how widespread these new forms of more engaged news media use actually are, and (c) whether these developments are similar or different from country to country. Based on data from a cross-country online survey of news media use (the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2013), we present a comparative analysis of the role of social media in the news information cycle in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, covering a range of developed democracies with historically different media systems but generally high levels of internet use. We show that television remains both the most widely used and most important source of news in all these countries, and that the websites of legacy news media organizations like broadcasters and newspapers are generally the most important online sources of news. We identify a set of similarities in terms of the growing importance of social media as part of the cross-media news habits of especially younger generations, but also important country-to-country differences in terms of how widespread especially the more active and participatory forms of media use are. Surprisingly, these differences do not correspond in any simple way to differences in levels of internet use, suggesting that more than mere availability shapes the role of social media in the news information cycle.