Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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

CfN: 2018 International Journal of Press/Politics Best Book Award

IJPP

Nominations are invited for the annual International Journal of Press/Politics Best Book Award, to be sent to IJPP editor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen by email no later than February 16.

Rationale

The International Journal of Press/Politics Best Book Award honors internationally-oriented books that advance our theoretical and empirical understanding of the linkages between news media and politics in a globalized world in a significant way. It is given annually by the International Journal of Press/Politics and sponsored by Sage Publications.

The award committee will judge each nominated book on several criteria, including the extent to which the book goes beyond analyzing a single case country to present a broader and internationally-oriented argument, the significance of the problems addressed, the strength of the evidence the book relies on, conceptual innovation, the clarity of writing, and the book’s ability to link journalism studies, political communication research, and other relevant intellectual fields.

Eligibility

Books published within the last ten years will be considered. Monographs as well as edited volumes of exceptional quality and coherence will be considered for the award. (Books by current members of the award committee are ineligible and committee members will recuse themselves from discussion of books by members of their own department, works published in series that they edit, etc.)

Nominations

Nominations including a rationale of no more than 350 words should be emailed by February 16 to Rasmus Kleis Nielsen at rasmus.nielsen@politics.ox.ac.uk.

The nomination must specify why the book should receive the award by outlining the importance of the book to the study of news media and politics and by identifying its international contribution and relevance. Please include links to or copies of relevant reviews in scholarly journals.

Arrangements should be made with the publishers of nominated books for three hard copies to be sent by February 16 to the Rasmus Kleis Nielsen at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 13 Norham Gardens, OX2 6PS, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Award committee

The award committee consists of Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (the editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics), Peter Van Aelst (chair of the Political Communication Division of ICA), and Henrik Örnebring (chair of the Journalism Studies Division of ICA).

Presentation

The award will be presented at the 2018 ICA Annual Meeting and will be announced on the IJPP website.

Looking back on ICA preconference on normative theory

Together with Chris Anderson, Daniel Kreiss, Dave Karpf, and Matt Powers, I organized an ICA pre-conference on the role of normative theory in communication research May 25.

It made for a day of really interesting and stimulating conversation, thanks to the presenters, our discussants, invited panelists, and everyone who attended. (I was on a panel of journal editors along with Barbie Zelizer, Claes de Vreese, and Silvio Waisbord talking about the role of  normative theory in the journals we edit — photo below from  Erik Bucy.)

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I won’t try to summarize the many interesting points made, but instead highlight what I though were some of the most important and interesting disagreements where people held different views —

  1. At a most basic level, people embrace different traditions of normative theorizing, mostly deliberative democracy, liberal democracy, and radical democracy. Most of the traditions explicitly mobilized are (a) tied to democracy (and not other normative questions like, say, justice) and (b) are strongly tied to Western countries (with a few notable exceptions), something Barbie Zelizer has pointed out in the past.
  2. There is an implicit and rarely explicitly discussed tension between people who prefer what political theorists would call ideal theories and those who prefer non-ideal theories — illustrated elsewhere by the debate between for example John Rawls (as a strong proponent of ideal theory) and Amartya Sen (as a proponent of non-ideal theory). (I found Zofia Stemplowska’s book chapter a useful guide to the issue.)
  3. Considerable disagreement around what role question of what democratic realists like Bernard Williams call “realisability” should play in normative discussions. What some think of as what Ian Hacking calls “elevator words” that raise us to higher levels of discourse, others think of as being so abstract and distant from reality as to be near-irrelevant. (I have written about this issue here.)

So, the conversations, and the disagreements continued. In advance of the pre-conference, we drafted a reading list (here), ,and I’ll add some things to after the discussions we had.

Digital news as forms of knowledge

I have written a somewhat nerdy (but hopefully still interesting) book chapter that is basically a challenge to any kind of generalization of the type “digital news is like X” for Remaking the News, a terrific new book edited by Pablo Boczkowski and Chris Anderson.

The chapter is a “yes, but” response to people who associate digital news with “churnalism” that tries to take seriously that we are seeing a boom in superficial, instantly produced and published material (some of which is valuable) as well as more and more really detailed journalism that enrolls data visualizations, interactives, mapping, etc. to enrich both the content and the storytelling.

I play of Robert Park‘s classic chapter on news as a form of knowledge and argue that  what we see today is an increasingly diverse polarization of news that include both much more content that enable knowledge as what the pragmatic philosopher William James called “acquaintance with”, focused on impressions of the world as well as content that enables “knowledge about” that  help us understand relations.

Buy the book here, read a pre-publication version of my chapter here, and see the full abstract below.

“Digital News As Forms of Knowledge: A New Chapter in the Sociology of Knowledge”

Forthcoming, Pablo Boczkowski and C.W. Anderson (eds.) 2017. Remaking the News: Essays on the Future of Journalism Scholarship in the Digital Age. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

What kinds of knowledge might news be said to be? And how is news as knowledge changing as the social practices, organizational forms, and media technologies that create and constitute it change over time? The purpose of this chapter is to address these questions and to offer a contemporary sequel to what Robert E. Park called “a chapter in the sociology of knowledge”. I am concerned with what changes in news content, the organization of news work, and the technologies involved in producing and disseminating news means for how we think about news as knowledge, and will discuss this more general issues on the basis specifically of past and present examples from the United States. I suggest that much news today is still frequently characterized by many of the traits Park identified, but that our increasingly digital media environment offers far more diverse forms of news and also includes a growing amount of substantially different kinds of news closer to the philosopher William James’ extremes of “acquaintance with” and “knowledge about”. Today, as we see simultaneously an increasing emphasis on presentist, minute-by-minute and second-by-second breaking news and the growth of various forms of long-form journalism, explanatory journalism, and data journalism designed to overcome some of the perceived epistemological shortcomings of older forms of news, new forms of news as knowledge that have greater staying power as content, but also because of certain affordances of digital media. Drawing on Park and his inspiration from James, I suggest we can think of digital news as involving at least three different ideal-typical forms of mediated, public knowledge today. First, we see the growing importance of forms of news-as-impression, decontextualized snippets of information presented via headline services, news alerts, live tickers, and a variety of new digital intermediaries including search engines, social media, and messaging apps. Second, a recognizable descendant of the archetypical late-20th century form of news remains important, news-as-items, published as in principle self-contained discrete articles and news stories bundled together in a newspaper, a broadcast stream, on a website, or in an app. Third, at the opposite end of James’ spectrum from acquaintance-with to knowledge-about, we see the rise of news-about-relations, combining elements of long-form “contextual” or “explanatory” forms of journalism well-known from some 20th century newspapers, magazines, and current affairs programs with new forms of data journalism, visualization, and interactivity afforded by digital technologies. Digital news may be associated with the rise of news-as-impressions and a potential hollowing out of inherited forms of news-as-items—with more transient information for what Park in 1940 called a “specious present”. Certainly many critics amongst journalists, academics, and other public figures complain about its “churnalistic” qualities. But digital news is far more than this and we should be suspicious of overarching generalizations about the nature of news today, which also involves a remarkable growth in news-as-relations more oriented towards providing what James called knowledge-about, and news that today is more accessible, more timely, and more detailed and data driven that probably ever before. Recognizing the properties of digital news as different forms of knowledge—rather than a form of knowledge—will help us understand how journalistic self-understandings, popular conceptions of journalism, academic hypothesis about journalism, and normative theories of journalism might require rethinking as the basic connection between news and knowledge they all implicitly rely on change over time.

Keywords: journalism, news, knowledge, sociology of knowledge, media