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Edelman Career Award to Ann Crigler and Paolo Mancini

I’ve served as chair of the American Political Science Association Political Communication Section’s Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Award award committee, serving alongside Holli Semetko and Markus Prior. The award is given every two years to recognize a lifetime contribution to the study of Political Communication.

I’m delighted to share that the award this year is going to Professor Ann Crigler from the University of Southern California and Professor Paolo Mancini from Università di Perugia, both of whom I have learned a lot from, and both of whom have demonstrated the value of collaborative work.

Below is the award text.

The award committee for the 2019 Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Award, which recognizes a lifetime contribution to the study of Political Communication and is awarded every other year, consisted of Holli Semetko, Markus Prior, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (chair).

This year, the committee made a unanimous decision to recognize two scholars for the contribution each of them have made through their lifetime of service and their scholarship, individually and with various co-authors.

We would therefore like to congratulate Professor Ann Crigler from the University of Southern California and Professor Paolo Mancini from Università di Perugia, who both will receive a Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Award from the American Political Science Association Political Communication Section this year.

For both Professor Crigler and Professor Mancini, we would like to briefly recognize both some the scholarship they have done as well as how they both model scholarship in a way we can all draw inspiration from.

For Professor Crigler, we would in particular highlight her ground-breaking and wide-ranging work including her 1992 book with W. Russell Neuman and Marion Just “Common Knowledge” on news and the construction of meaning, as well as her 1996 book “Crosstalk” where she with a team of five co-authors examine interactions between citizens, candidates, and the media in a presidential campaign. Among her extensive record of work on political communication, public opinion, and political psychology, these books are just two examples of theoretically ambitious, methodologically innovative, empirically grounded analysis of substantially important questions that has helped the field as a whole advance.

For Professor Mancini, beyond his important role in the development of political communication as a field of study in Italy specifically and Europe more broadly, we want to highlight his pioneering role in developing comparative frameworks for and perspectives on political communication. This has been driven by his own single-authored publications as well as a number of important articles, edited books, and monographs with different collaborators, including both the “Politics, media, and modern democracy” edited with David Swanson in 1996 as well as his collaborations with Daniel C. Hallin on a number of projects including their 2004 book “Comparing Media Systems: Three models of media and politics.”

We want to recognize both Professor Crigler and Professor Mancini for their individual lifetime contribution to the study of political communication through their scholarship. We would also like to recognize how they both model scholarship through their life-long commitment to a combination of individual and co-authored work, and want to underline that the two Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Awards given today demonstrates how one can advance the study of political communication theoretically, methodologically, and substantially in a collaborative fashion, and how important it is that we as a field recognize and reward everyone involved in such collegial work.

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Hopes for journalism

Jay Rosen publishes a list of his “top problems” in journalism from time to time, and Jeff Jarvis has chipped in with his worries.

I encourage you to read both, and think of your own problems and worries (and there are plenty of both), but wanted to add my own list of hopes to supplement.

 

Good journalism stands out, creates public value, and is rewarded for it

… not everywhere, and not always as much as one would hope, but the fact that publisher after publisher, from local media group AMedia in Norway over digital-born sites like Mediapart in France and national titles like Dagens Nyheter in Sweden to international brands like the New York Times report that exclusive stories, well-reported investigations, and original angles are among the key drivers of loyalty and subscriptions gives me hope that good journalism and good business can go hand in hand.

 

The next generation of leaders in news are amazing and unafraid…

… they care about their mission and their profession, they are proud of journalism’s history but not stuck in its past, they actively want to change and to work with colleagues across editorial, product, and business because they know no one can do it alone. I can’t be a pessimist in a world with people like Melissa Bell, Peter Wolodarski, Niddal Salah-Eldin, Supriya Sharma, Gary Liu, Angela Pacienza, Alvin Ntibinyane, Hannah Suppa, and countless others like them leading the profession and the industry towards the future.

 

We can fight the tide of misinformation without sacrificing our liberties to censors or filters…

… as demonstrated by all those doing pioneering work rejecting both, on the one hand, the draconian measures pursued, sometimes deliberately and with open eyes, sometimes in good faith but poorly thought through, and, on the other hand, the unacceptable status quo daily further undermining trust in the institutions and infrastructures that enable free speech. Just look at the work of Claire Wardle, David Kaye, Joan Donovan, Will Moy, and their colleagues and counterparts.

 

The best journalism today is better than it has ever been…

… taking on everyone from the most powerful politicians to the biggest companies in the world, exposing them to public scrutiny, holding them to account for what they do. More broadly, at its best, journalism today is more accessible, more timely, more informative, more interactive, more engaged with its audience—and frankly less arrogant—than in the past. Every day the work of everyone from Julia Angwin, Hannah Dreier, and Marty Baron in the US to Carlos Chamorro in Nicaragua, Maria Ressa in the Philippines, and Siddharth Varadarajan in India and many more across the world fills me with hope for the future of journalism.

 

There is plenty to be worried about – the world is a worrying place – but this, the people mentioned, and many others like them I meet at the Reuters Institute and across the world, makes me hopeful. They are not flights of fancy, or a false balance to counter others’ problems and worries — they are reality-based grounds for conditional optimism.

How do local journalists think about editorial quality in a changing environment? New article

How do local journalists think about editorial quality in a changing environment?

In a new article led by Joy Jenkins (who did amazing work for us at RISJ on local news), we use in-depth 48 interviews from across Finland, France, Germany, and the UK to identify the main value aspirations, and find a focus on traditional values like proximity and public service but also on popularity.

Thus, while some critics and commentators see quality journalism in opposition to popular journalism, our interviewees see quality and popularity as going hand in hand.

Abstract below, full article here.

Local media around the world are facing challenges, including shrinking staff sizes and diminished advertising and subscription revenues. They are also working to adapt their editorial processes to meet the needs of online audiences. This comparative study used in-depth interviews with managers, editors, and reporters at local and regional newspapers in four countries to examine how they define and distinguish quality journalism and the challenges and opportunities for producing quality work in the digital environment. The findings show that local journalists remain focused on providing journalism that serves the needs of their communities, reflecting traditional news values, such as proximity and public service. However, their considerations of quality local news are also evolving to embrace forms of journalism that can draw broad online audiences, such as service, solutions, and constructive approaches. While normative theories and some critics may place quality journalism in opposition to popular journalism, local journalists in practice do not see quality and popularity in opposition but as going hand in hand.

2019 Digital News Report out

Today, we’ve published our annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report.

Covering 38 markets globally across 6 continents (with the addition of South Africa this year), it is our biggest report ever.

It is an incredibly rich and varied picture of a rich and varied media environment, with marked country-to-country differences, which you can explore in the PDF of the main report (found here) or by diving into the data and interactives on the report website here.

Still, I think there are some key, globally-relevant findings from across the report that lead author Nic Newman, Richard Fletcher, Antonis Kalogeropoulos, and all our many country partners have produced.

FIRST, we find only a small increase in the overall numbers paying for any online news, and even in countries with higher levels of payment, the vast majority only have ONE online subscription – suggesting that ‘winner takes all’ dynamics are likely to be important. More and more publishers are chasing subscribers from the same highly educated, more affluent, news-loving minority of people.

Pay HD

SECOND, the role of platforms continue to evolve – in many countries, people are spending less time with Facebook and more time with WhatsApp, Instagram, and YouTube than this time last year. Few users are abandoning Facebook entirely, though, and it remains by far the most important social network for news. Voice activated speakers are spreading quickly, but with very limited use for news so far.

Time HD

THIRD, the move to messaging applications and groups is present everywhere but with very significant country difference — WhatsApp has become a primary network for discussing and sharing news in non-Western countries like Brazil (53%) Malaysia (50%), and South Africa (49%) (much less widely used for news in many Western countries). Facebook Groups for discussing news and politics have become popular in Turkey (29%) and Brazil (22%) (but again much less used in Western countries such as Canada (7%) or Australia (7%)).

Messaging HD.png

FOURTH, the majority of our respondents across 38 markets worry about what is real and fake on the internet, and over a quarter (26%) say they have started relying on more ‘reputable’ sources of news as a result, plus a quarter (24%) saying they had stopped using sources that had a dubious reputation in the last year. While this will help some publishers, the often low trust in news overall – and in many individual brands – underlines this is not necessarily a development that will help everyone in the industry.

Behaviour HD

FIFTH, while people are demonstrating (by paying attention and by paying) that they find some journalism valuable, it is also clear that people are not impressed by much of what they come across, and the issues go well beyond trust. While almost two-thirds of our respondents say the media are good at keeping people up to date (62%), they are seen as less good at helping them understand the news (51%). And less than half (42%) think the media do a good job in holding rich and powerful people to account.

Attitudes HD

As always, all the underlying data is available for those interested in doing additional analysis, and we will work on further in-depth studies of these any many other issues, going beyond the main report in the months to come.

Thanks to everyone involved, at the RISJ, our country partners, and the 15 different funders making this possible.

Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Award – nominations?

I’m on the American Political Science Association Political Communication Section’s award committee again (together with Markus Prior and Holli Semetko) for the Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Award, which recognizes a lifetime contribution to the study of Political Communication.

Email me if you have candidates in mind (deadline March 1). The award will be given at APSA 2019.

Previous recipients include Gladys Lang and Kurt Lang, Elihu Katz, Michael Schudson, Lance Bennett, Jay Blumler, Russ Neuman, Diana Mutz, Dan Hallin, Gadi Wolfsfeld, and many others I and so many fellows scholars have learned so much from.

Below is the text I used when promoting the call for nominations in 2017, posted again here for good measure.

“[The Distinguished Career award is] named after Murray Edelman, an impressive and idiosyncratic figure in our field. I’m glad political communication recognize the importance of people like Edelman who do things differently. As the NYTimes noted in his obituary, “Edelman’s highly subjective analytic style put him at variance with the prevailing orthodoxy in contemporary American political science.”

“At variance” — that’s putting it mildly.Not many political scientists would begin a book the way he begun his 1971 book Politics as Symbolic Action:

Political history is largely an account of mass violence and of the expenditure of vast resources to cope with mythical fears and hopes.

For all the shortcomings (and I think there are many) of his strand of “post-modern political science” inspired by continental philosophy and older strands of symbolic interactionism, his attention to symbols, meanings, and performance is arguably as relevant today as ever, and perhaps more so than the paradigm Edelman challenged during his lifetime.

As the NYT put it: “Known as rational choice theory, this holds that political actors make rational decisions after weighing all the pros and cons. Not quite how I’d describe recent political events.”

More Important, But Less Robust?

Today we are launching a new Reuters Institute report in Davos by Meera Selva and myself called “More Important, But Less Robust? Five Things Everybody Needs to Know about the Future of Journalism” at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (and streamed online) and featuring a panel discussion with Marty Baron, Sylvie Kauffmann, Nick Kristof and Mark Pieth chaired by Monique Villa and hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

davos

The report is primarily based on a wide range of our own research from the last few years, but many other researchers have done work on these trends, and I include links to some examples here.

The five things are

First, we have moved from a world where media organisations were gatekeepers to a world where media still create the news agenda, but platform companies increasingly control access to audiences. (As documented in our annual Digital News Report by Nic Newman et al and discussed in the work of, for example, Kjerstin Thorson and Chris Wells)

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Second, this move to digital media generally does not generate filter bubbles. Instead, automated serendipity and incidental exposure drive people to more – and more diverse – sources of information. (As documented in work that Richard Fletcher has led on social media and search engines, but also in the work of others, including for example Seth Flaxman et al.)

slide2Third, journalism is often losing the battle for people’s attention and, in some (but not all) countries for the public’s trust, increasing information inequality. (As documented in for example a recent factsheet by Antonis Kalogeropoulos and myself, building on work by for example Markus Prior.)

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Fourth, the business models that fund news are challenged, weakening professional journalism and leaving news media more vulnerable to commercial and political pressures. (See for example this handbook chapter and the work of Anya Schiffrin on media capture.)

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Fifth, news is more diverse than ever, and the best journalism in many cases better than ever, taking on everyone from the most powerful politicians to the biggest private companies. (Different people will have different standards for what they consider better or worse journalism, but we base our cautious optimism on for example the rise of collaborative investigative journalism, deeper engagement with readers, and joint fact-checking work, as well as the growth of what Kate Fink and Michael Schudson call “contextual reporting”.)

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These are five broad, global trends trends, but they will not play out the same in every country. They will clearly differ depending on cultural, economic, political, and social context, most notably the intensifying “war on journalism” waged by some politicians, militants, criminals, and others with an aversion to accountability reporting and independent journalism.

A new business for news

“2019 will be another terrible year for the business of news, and journalists will have to face the harsh reality that no one will come to their rescue — not benign billionaires, not platform companies, and not policymakers.”

I’ve written my 2019 prediction for the Nieman Lab at Harvard, focused on the urgent need for building a new business for news, the need for journalists to lead in that process, and the need to recognize that doing so will be a long, hard slog (and that many will fail along the way).

A historical analogy I offer is the time it took to build the mass business of paid print newspapers that is now in terminal decline. As we track the development of new digital pay models for news month by month and year by year, with the fits and stats, break-out success stories few saw coming (here’s looking at you, MediaPart), set-backs, and occasional disappointments (so long, The Sun paywall), we sometimes forget how long it took to build the old models.

Consider the evolution of paid printed newspaper circulation relative to population in the United States — it took 50+ years to build the mass circulation that peaked in the middle of the 20th century (circulation that has been in non-stop decline since).

money

As I write in the Nieman piece, “mass paid print circulation thus did not appear overnight, but took decades of hard work and constant editorial, commercial, and technological innovation.”

It may well take as long to develop new business models as it took to develop the old ones. Doing so is one of the most important and urgent challenges facing journalism, and I hope journalists will lead in the attempts to do so. “No one cares more, no one has more at stake, and no one is better positioned to build new businesses around journalistic values, editorial independence, and the timeless aspiration to seek truth and report it.”

The full text of my Nieman piece is here.