New article looking at search engines as example of “automated serendipity”

Richard Fletcher has been leading an important line of empirical research for us in the last few years, giving evidence-based answers to a series of important questions around the implications of people’s increasing reliance on algorithmically-curated services like search engines and social media when accessing news.

The latest installment is a piece examining reliance on search engines, which we find drive what we call “automated serendipity” and (controlling for other factors) leads people to sources they would not have used otherwise.

Like our previous work on social media, in challenges widely held assumptions about the role of digital media. As in several other studies (e.g. this), we find no evidence of “filter bubbles” — if anything, the opposite.

Abstract and three key figures below and full article (open access) here.

Search engines are an absolutely central part of the web. Yet we know relatively little about how they shape news consumption. In this study, we use survey data from four countries (UK, USA, Germany, Spain) to compare the news repertoires of those who say they use search engines to search for news stories, and those that do not. In all four countries, and controlling for other factors, we show that those who find news via search engines (i) on average use more sources of online news, (ii) are more likely to use both left-leaning and right-leaning online news sources, and (iii) have more balanced news repertoires in terms of using similar numbers of left-leaning and right-leaning sources. We thus find little support for the idea that search engine use leads to echo chambers and filter bubbles. To the contrary, using search engines for news is associated with more diverse and more balanced news consumption, as search drives what we call “automated serendipity” and leads people to sources they would not have used otherwise.

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New article on how legacy news media respond to a changing business of news

“Comparing legacy media responses to the changing business of news: Cross-national similarities and differences across media types” has just been published in the International Communication Gazette.

Alessio Cornia led on this, based on interviews done by him and our co-author Annika Sehl as part of our joined research project on how legacy news media across Europe navigate the rise of digital media, audiences transformations, and a changing business of news.

Here is the abstract

In this article, we analyse how legacy media organizations in six countries are adapting to the changing business of news. We focus on how similarities and differences in their responses to digital developments are shaped by the interplay between organizational legacy and national context. The study draws on media sociology and comparative media systems research and is based on 54 interviews with senior editors and managers at 25 newspapers and commercial broadcasters in Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the UK. We find that organizations within the same medium respond to change in similar ways (newspapers versus broadcasters), and that these responses are surprisingly similar across different countries. We argue that factors related to the medium-specific legacy shape media adaptation more than do structural differences between national media systems because news organizations faced with a changing and uncertain environment imitate the strategies adopted by peer organizations elsewhere.

Full article here.

The rise of platforms (2019 ICA post-conference)

Platform companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter are increasingly central to most forms of mediated communication around the world and therefore to most of the individual, institutional, and governance questions with which communication research deals.

To bring together different scholars with overlapping interests in the implications of this rise, Erika Franklin Fowler, Sarah Anne Ganter, Natali Helberger, Dave Karpf, Daniel Kreiss, Shannon McGregor and I are organizing a post-conference May 29 after the 2019 ICA conference.

More information about the post-conference here, deadline for extended abstracts is January 11.

We hope to see lots of interesting and intellectually and geographically diverse work presented and discussed at the post-conference.

What academic work on journalism/news/media would it be useful for journalists to read?

Back in August, Meera Selva, Joy Jenkins and I — all from the Reuters Institute — started asking people for suggestions of what academic work on journalism/news/media it would be useful for journalists to read.

Bookshelf

We wanted to create a list of reading suggestions for the incoming Reuters Institute  Journalist Fellows, mid-career journalists from all over the world who spend between 3 and 9 months with us in Oxford working on a project of their own choosing

A stable version is on the institute website here, and a Google Document open to editing is here.

We also hoped this would be useful for journalists elsewhere thinking about the present and future of their profession, the institutions that sustain and constrain it, its social and political implications, and how it is changing.

I’ve often felt (and written about) that academic research on journalism is too disconnected and far removed from urgent, present conversations about the future of news, so it was great to be reminded that there are many in the academic community who care  about how research can play a role in these discussions, and enthusiastically offered up suggestions.

We had hundreds of suggestions — and I’m sure we could have collected or come up with hundreds more — so what we have done to make it  a bit more managable and easy to access is to create 17 topics with a few suggested readings, including one marked as a good place to start on that topic, and then collected the other suggestions at the back of the document.

The 17 topics, and suggested first readings, are

1. Some classic big ideas on journalism, media, and ideas in public life

* Lippmann, Walter. 1997. Public Opinion. New Brunswick, N.J., U.S.A: Transaction Publishers.

2. What is journalism and news?

* Deuze, M. (2005). What is journalism? Professional identity and ideology of journalists reconsidered. Journalism, 6(4), 442-464. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884905056815

3. Audience behaviour

* Newman, Nic, Richard Fletcher, Antonis Kalogeropoulos, David A. L Levy, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. 2018. “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018.” Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/.

4. Trust and the news media

* O’Neill, Onora. 2002. A Question of Trust. Reith Lectures ; 2002. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Also available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2002/lectures.shtml)

5. Inequality and polarisation in news use

* Prior, Markus. 2005. “News vs. Entertainment: How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout.” American Journal of Political Science 49 (3): 577–92. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2005.00143.x.

6. Framing and media effects

* CommGap. 2012. “Media Effects”. World Bank Communication for Governance Accountability Program. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTGOVACC/Resources/MediaEffectsweb.pdf (short overview).

7. Relations between reporters and officials

* Bennett, W. Lance. 1990. “Toward a Theory of Press-State Relations in the United States.” The Journal of Communication 40 (2): 103–27. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1990.tb02265.x.

8. News, race, and recognition

* Lamont, M. (2018). Addressing recognition gaps: Destigmatization and the reduction of inequality. American Sociological Review, 83(3), 419-444. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0003122418773775

9. Women and journalism

* Franks, Suzanne. 2013. Women and Journalism. London: I.B.Tauris.

10. Business of news

* Nielsen, Rasmus Kleis. Forthcoming. “The Changing Economic Contexts of Journalism.” In Handbook of Journalism Studies, edited by Thomas Hanitzsch and Karin Wahl-Jorgensen. https://rasmuskleisnielsen.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/nielsen-the-changing-economic-contexts-of-journalism-v2.pdf.

11. Innovation in the media

* Küng, Lucy. 2015. Innovators in Digital News. RISJ Challenges. London: Tauris.

12. Platform companies and news media

* Bell, Emily J., Taylor Owen, Peter D. Brown, Codi Hauka, and Nushin Rashidian. 2017. “The Platform Press: How Silicon Valley Reengineered Journalism.” https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac:15dv41ns27.

13. Digital media and technology

* Dijck, José van. 2013. The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

14. Disinformation

* Wardle, Claire, and Hossein Derakhshan. 2017. Information Disorder: Toward an Interdisciplinary Framework for Research and Policy Making. Report to the Council of Europe. https://shorensteincenter. org/information-disorder-framework-for-research-and-policymaking.

15. Democracy, journalism, and media

* Schudson, Michael. 2008. Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press. Cambridge, UK: Polity. (Especially the chapter “Six or Seven Things that Journalism can do for Democracy”)

16. Censorship and propaganda

* Simon, Joel. 2014. The New Censorship : Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom. Columbia Journalism Review Books. New York: Columbia University Press.

17. International/comparative research

* Hallin, Daniel C., and Paolo Mancini. 2005. “Comparing Media Systems.” In Mass Media and Society, edited by James Curran and Michael Gurevitch, 4th ed., 215–33. London: Hodder Arnold.

There are topics not yet on the list (local journalism, for example), and the list reflects the biases of published English language research and of our personal/professional  networks in tending towards studies of and from Western countries, often specifically from the US. (It also reflects the fact that I (a) have learned a lot from my time at Columbia University and (b) am proud of the work we have done at the Reuters Institute.) The list is thus, like any list, limited, but we hope it  is potentially useful and interesting, at least as a starting point, and hope journalists all over the world will find it useful.

Let us know what you think, we plan to update it going forward.

Fourth annual International Journal of Press/Politics conference, program

IJPP

Next week, October 11-12, the incoming editor-in-chief Cristian Vaccari and I are hosting the fourth annual International Journal of Press/Politics conference at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

It’s a special occasion for me as it will be my last conference as editor (I step down at the end of December and Cristian takes over).

Looking forward to welcoming colleagues from all over the world — full program below.

 

Thursday October 11th

8.00-8.45am                 Registration and coffee

8.45-9.00                      Opening remarks

9.00-10.00                    Keynote lecture by Andrew Chadwick

10.00-10.30                  Break

10.30-12.00                  Panels 1a and 1b 

12.00-13.00                  Lunch

13.00-14.30                  Panels 2a and 2b

14.30-15.00                  Break

15.00-16.30                  Panels 3a and 3b

7pm-onwards            Dinner

 

Friday October 12

8.00-9.00am                Arrival and coffee

9.00.-10.30                   Panels 4a and 4b

10.30-10.45                  Break

10.45-11.45                  Panels 5a and 5b

11.45-12.00                  Break

12.00-13.00                  Roundtable with IJPP Editorial Board members and closing remarks

13.00-14.00                  Lunch

 

Thursday October 11th

8.45-9.00    Opening remarks

9.00-10.00  Keynote lecture, Andy Chadwick

10.30-12.00 Panels 1a and 1b

 

PANEL 1a: SOCIAL MEDIA & ELECTIONS (Chair: Gunn Enli)

Facebook Advertising in the United Kingdom General Election of 2017

Nick Anstead, Richard Stupart, Damian Tambini and Joao Vieira-Magalhaes

 

Diverging patterns of Facebook interactions on online news: media sources and partisan communities in the lead-up of 2018 Italian General Election

Fabio Giglietto, Augusto Valeriani, Nicola Righetti, and Giada Marino

 

When does Abuse and Harassment Marginalize Female Political Voices on Social Media?

Yannis Theocharis, Maarja Luhiste, Zoltan Fazekas, Sebastian Adrian Popa, and Pablo Barberá

 

PANEL 1b: NEWS CONSUMPTION (Chair: Homero Gil de Zúñiga)

More News Avoiders? A Longitudinal Study of News Consumption in Low and High Choice Media Environments 1997-2016

Rune Karlsen, Audun Beyer, and Kari Steen-Johnsen

 

News consumption on social media in authoritarian regimes: polarization and political apathy

Aleksandra Urman 

 

Gateways to news and selective exposure: Evidence from survey and navigation data

Ana Cardenal, Carlos Aguilar-Paredes, and Mario Pérez-Montoro

 

13.00-14.30 Panels 2a and 2b

 

PANEL 2a: CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATION (Chair: Ralph Schroeder)

The Moderating Effect of Political Responsibility on Populist Communication Online: The case of the German AfD

Tobias Widmann

“His Tweets Speak for Themselves”: An Analysis of Donald Trump’s Twitter Behaviour

Suzanne Elayan, Martin Sykora and Tom Jackson

 

The rally-intensive campaign: A distinct type of election campaign in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond

Dan Paget

 

PANEL 2b: JOURNALISM IN DANGEROUS PLACES (Chair: Jane Suiter)

“Beyond the Dark Mountains”: Suspicion and Distrust in the work of journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Tali Aharoni

 

Strategies for safety autonomy: The role of journalists’ capital enhancing professional autonomy in violent contexts

Julieta Brambila

 

Local authoritarian enclaves in democracies and democratic hybrids: How much do they explain the harassment and murder of journalists over the last quarter century?

Sallie Hughes and Yulia Vorobyeva

 

15.00-16.30 Panels 3a and 3b

 

PANEL 3a: JOURNALISM IN PRACTICE (Chair: Ana Langer)

Democratizing Views in International News: Proportions of Northern and Southern Perspectives in American and Finnish Coverage of the Global South

Kirsi Cheas

 

The political determinants of journalists’ career

Andrea Ceron, Sergio Splendore,Rosa Berganza, Thomas Hanitzsch, and Neil Thurman

 

How German and British journalists differ in their political and ethical role conceptions

Henkel, Imke, Neil Thurman, Veronika Deffner, and Ivica Obadic

 

PANEL 3b: CONCEPTS AND THEORIES (Chair: Jay Bumler)

The Authentic Politician: Strategies to Construct Authenticity in Political Campaigns

Gunn Enli

 

Old and New Echo Chambers

Paolo Mancini and Anna Stanziano

 

Communicative Power in the Hybrid Media System

Andreas Jungherr, Oliver Posegga, and Jisun An

 

Friday October 12

9.00-10.30 Panels 4a and 4b

 

PANEL 4a: NEWS CONTENT (Chair: Neil Thurman)

From Network to Narrative: Understanding the Nature and Trajectory of News Stories

Sarah Oates

 

Thinking through the political media system:  Surprising similarities between polarized media outlets during Election 2016

Chris Wells, Josephine Lukito, and Zhongkai Sun

 

An anatomy of the complex role of the media on policy ‘U-turns’

Ana Ines Langer

 

PANEL 4b: MISINFORMATION AND MANIPULATION (Chair: Erik Bucy)

The Populist Campaigns against European Public Service Media: Hot Air or Existential Threat?

Felix Simon, Annika Sehl and Ralph Schroeder

 

Fake News as a Combative Frame: Results from a qualitative content analysis of the term’s definitions and uses on Twitter

Dominique Doering and Gina Neff

 

Disinformation and Media Manipulation in the Swedish 2018 Election

Ralph Schroeder, Lisa Kaati, and Johan Fernquist

 

10.45-11.45 Panels 5a and 5b

 

PANEL 5a: ONLINE NEWS AND MEDIA USE (Chair: Gina Neff)

Are there echo chambers? A 7-nation comparison

Grant Blank & Elizabeth Dubois

 

The Proliferation of the ‘News Finds Me’ Perception Across Different Societies

Homero Gil de Zúñiga Nadine Strauss Brigitte Huber James Liu

 

PANEL 5B: COMPARATIVE RESEARCH ON ATTITUDES TO NEWS (Chair: Ana Cardenal)

Perceived Media Bias and Political Action: A 17-Country Comparison

Matthew Barnidge, Hernando Rojas, Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, Paul A. Beck

 

Polarization and Inequality: key drivers of distrust in media old and new?

Jane Suiter and Richard Fletcher

 

12.00-13.00 IJPP Editorial Board Roundtable (with Paolo Mancini, Sallie Hughes, and Sarah Oates) and closing remarks

 

13.00-14.00 Lunch

Do people know where they get their news from?

When people get news via search engines, social media, and others forms of distributed discovery — rather than going directly to a website or app — they often cannot correctly recall what brand e a story they have read actually came from.

In a new article in New Media & Society led by Antonis Kalogeropoulos and with Richard Fletcher, we’ve looked more closely at the factors that influence correct news brand attribution in different environments.

Abstract below, full article here.

The digital media environment is increasingly characterized by distributed discovery, where media users find content produced by news media via platforms like search engines and social media. Here, we measure whether online news users correctly attribute stories they have accessed to the brands that have produced them. We call this “news brand attribution.” Based on a unique combination of passive tracking followed by surveys served to a panel of users after they had accessed news by identifiable means (direct, search, social) and controlling for demographic and media consumption variables, we find that users are far more likely to correctly attribute a story to a news brand if they accessed it directly rather than via search or social. We discuss the implications of our findings for the business of journalism, for our understanding of source cues in an increasingly distributed media environment and the potential of the novel research design developed.

“Cutting through the noise” – short Q&A on my new role as RISJ Director

Below a video of a short Q&A about my new role as Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

How can journalism cut through the noise of a world in which there is so many voices and so much information out there?

How can we help journalists face the challenges and opportunities of a changing world and continually transformed media environment from a position of strength?

How can the institute serve as a bazaar, a trading zone, bringing together journalists, different contributions made by our own research and other academics, and other relevant voices including media executives, policymakers, technology companies?

All part of our work helping journalists around the world think about their profession and the future of news, and what they can do to shape it.

Full transcript here and video below.