“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” Social science and the 2016 elections

Dewey Defeats Truman NewspaperThe most important thing about November 8 is of course the result itself, but as a professional social scientist, I want to put out a few thoughts on what the 2016 elections might mean for social science.

For the last year, I have repeatedly told colleagues and friends I thought there was no chance Donald Trump would be elected president. Yesterday, I told a colleague I thought Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote by maybe 3 percent and it could be an early evening if she won Florida or North Carolina.

I was wrong.

My view was based on three things, all tied in with my core belief that while imperfect, social science is better than guessing— 

  1. Long-term trends: extensive political science research suggesting that economic and political fundamentals, and underlying demographic shifts, are more important than the campaign itself. Much of this research suggested any Democrat running in 2016 would start the race ahead of any Republican.
  2. Month-by-month measures of performance: immense amounts of public opinion polling and detailed analysis of it both by academic political scientists and by data journalists, which almost consistently showed Hillary Clinton ahead nationally and in key states.
  3. The campaign itself: the sense—impressionistic, but linked to my own qualitative research and the five years I lived in the US—that while Donald Trump clearly spoke to deeply held grievances amongst many (especially White) Americans, a billionaire member of 1% with a history of personal and professional scandals who did not have the support of his party was unlikely to make major gains during the campaign itself, especially as his organization itself seemed disorganized and inefficient.

Again, I was wrong. We were wrong. Very publicly, both in terms of academics who have had the courage and sense of citizenship to publish their predictions along the way and in terms of data journalists working in large part on the basis of social science data and methods, only doing so in real time with running commentary.

It is a humbling moment. The scientific response is to re-examine our assumptions, methods, and data, and see what we can do better.

One result, however important and high-profile, does not disprove everything we thought we knew as scientists about politics and everything we thought we knew about how to study politics scientifically.

Science is hard. We are in the dark, poking at the world with different sticks.

But we shouldn’t trivialize just how important this is, and I think addressing it will take more than tweaking and paradigm repair.

As powerful as I believe quantitative analysis and survey research can be, I can’t help but feel that part of the problem is that many of us as social scientists have lost track of what politics means for many people. For me, the 2016 UK Brexit result and the 2016 US election results both illustrate this wider problem.

It is easy to look back and identify prescient observations, but in terms of trying to make sense of November 8, I can’t help but feel the most insightful books might have been Katherine Cramer’s The Politics of Resentment and Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land. Neither of them aimed to predict the election outcome. Neither of them focused on the kinds of large quantitative data sets, detailed polling, or scraped digital trace data that most social scientists work with.

Instead of looking at the numbers, Cramer and Hochschild went and talked to people to find the feelings, emotions, and meanings that are hard to get at with the most widely used social science methods.

I want to be clear this is not about qualitative methods being good and quantitative methods being bad. They are good at different things and should compliment each other. We need to capture both stories and numbers to understand the world (and in the social sciences, to understand how people understand the world, and act on their understanding).

But I think that, beyond re-examining what can be done incrementally with existing approaches to improve the models, the samples, the assumptions about who will vote, this (along with the Brexit result in the UK) is also a moment where we have to confront a more basic issues—

We as social scientists do not have a good, evidence-based understanding of how most people understand and relate to politics and the world around them. And if we don’t have that qualitative understanding, it is very hard to develop quantitative analysis and methods that will capture it. We know a lot about what people do, but very little about what it means for them.

And no, “big data” scraped from digital media or other sources will not solve this problem by itself. Facebook and Google, who have more of this data than probably anybody else, are very conscious that behavioural data does not in itself reveal what things mean, and as a consequence invest heavily in qualitative research. I think the social sciences should walk on two legs, quantitative and qualitative, too. (And have written about that, with colleagues, before.)

As Stephen Coleman has written in his study of How Voters Feel, “the sustainability of any social practice depends to a large measure on how it feels to participate in it.”

I think it is clear we don’t know how most people feel about politics and how it ties in with other aspects of their lives and identities. Yes, we may know that some of them are not very interested, don’t like it very much, or a quite partisan. But what does that actually mean? I don’t think we know.

Historically, I think it is fair to say social scientists have simply assumed we knew, and primarily asked qualitative questions about the lived experience and perspective of groups that were considered minorities.

In my view 2016 shows we need to start qualitatively researching the (diverse, fractious, fascinating) majority to, and see whether a better, evidence-based understanding of how people relate to politics and public life can help us get it right next time.

Doing this might mean more social scientists have to actually talk to and spend time with the people they study. As John le Carré has noted, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”

Normative Theory in Communication Research ICA pre-conference

We are at it again — with Chris Anderson, Daniel Kreiss, Dave Karpf, and Matt Powers, I’m organizing an ICA pre-conference on the role of normative theory in communication research. Conference website here. Call for papers below.

Call for Papers

Normative Theory in Communication Research Pre-conference

2017 International Communication Association Annual Conference

May 25, 2017 – 8:00am-4:30pm

Department of Communication, University of California, San Diego


Normative theories of democracy in communication research across its various subfields rarely receive explicit treatment. Often, researchers simply imply their normative standpoints through the research questions they ask about ‘participation,’ ‘civility,’ ‘two-sided information flows,’ ‘knowledgeable citizens,’ ‘rational debate and deliberation,’ ‘polarization and partisanship,’ ‘interactivity,’ and ‘quality information.’

The normative implications of many of these concepts rest on implicit assumptions about democracy, how it works, and more importantly, how it should work. When communication scholars explicitly discuss their normative models of democracy, they tend to be deliberative, following the guiding theorist of the field, Jurgen Habermas, and rich veins of deliberative research work by scholars such as James Fishkin. More common, however, is research that implicitly holds up rational debate among disinterested, non-partisan citizens premised on quality information as the normative ideal. Meanwhile, when scholars do not explicitly embrace deliberation, they tend to hold up an ill-defined, procedural idea of participation as the ultimate democratic value, often without any consideration of the ends towards which it is directed.

While deliberative theory and vague ideas of participation continue to hold significant appeal in communication research, are they the only models?  And, indeed, should they be? In the past two decades there has been a tremendous flowering of normative work in other fields that casts new light on democracy itself.  Social movement scholars have argued forcefully for the importance of contentious politics, emotion, identity, and culture to the practice and promise of democracy. Sociologists have argued that ‘civility’ often serves to cut-off critique and frankness should be valued as an alternative. Political theorists have embraced the normative importance of spectatorship in contrast to deliberation and participation, invoking communication research around media events. Others have worked to reclaim the value of partisanship in an era of extremist, single-issue civil society organizations. Meanwhile, some scholars have sought to re-establish the value of representation, while others have argued strongly for the value of agonism as the proper domain of the political.

With few exceptions, communication research has not explicitly engaged with its underlying normative models of democracy. In this pre-conference, we seek to bring communication scholars together to spark a conversation on the normative foundations of scholarship and move the field towards more sophisticated models of democracy. Through invited speakers, peer-reviewed papers, and critical discussants, we seek to make democracy and normative theories our object of analysis.

Confirmed participants include Cherian George (Hong Kong Baptist University), Claes de Vreese (University of Amsterdam), Michael Schudson (Columbia University), Jennifer Stromer-Galley (Syracuse University), Talia Stroud (UT Austin), Silvio Waisbord (George Washington University), and Barbie Zelizer (University of Pennsylvania).

Call for Extended Abstracts

We are looking for submissions that interrogate the democratic foundations of communication research across its various subfields. These can include articles on the history of normative models of democracy in the field, original theoretical papers that propose democratic frameworks or synthesize work in adjacent fields, or empirical papers that made a significant theoretical contribution to democratic theory in the field of communication.

Extended abstracts (up to 4,000 characters including spaces) should be submitted via the Normative Theory in Communication Research website by January 15, 2017.

The organizers – C.W. Anderson (CUNY), David Karpf (George Washington University), Daniel Kreiss (UNC-Chapel Hill), Rasmus Nielsen (Oxford University), and Matthew Powers (University of Washington) – will make decisions on accepted papers by February 15th. Full papers will be due in advance of the pre-conference on May 25, 2017.

There is no cost to attend this pre-conference and lunch and refreshments will be provided. Registration is required.


Department of Communication, University of Washington

Department of Media Culture, CUNY-CSI

Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

School of Media and Journalism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University

ICA Communication and Technology Division

ICA Journalism Studies Division

ICA Political Communication Division

Draft Schedule

8:00 – 8:15am

Arrival and coffee

8:15 – 9:30am

PANEL 1: Reviewed Submissions, Paper Presentations

9:45 – 11:00am

PANEL 2: Reviewed submissions, Paper Presentations

11:15 – 12:30pm

PANEL 3: Reviewed Submissions, Paper Presentations


Lunchtime Journal Editors Panel on the Role of Normative Theory in Research

2:00 – 3:15pm

PANEL 4: Reviewed Submissions, Paper Presentations


Plenary Panel on Democratic Theory in Communication Research

New Report: Private Sector Media and Digital News

cornia-thumbnailSeptember 30, we published our latest RISJ Report, “Private Sector Media and Digital News”, focusing on how legacy news organisations in Europe are dealing with the business of digital news. The lead author is Alessio Cornia, who worked on the report together with Annika Sehl and myself. The full PDF is freely available here and the executive summary is below.

The report looks at how they are addressing recent developments such as the rise of social media, the move from desktop internet to an increasingly mobile web, and the growing importance of online video. It examines 25 different newspapers and commercial broadcasters in six European countries are adapting to an evolving media environment on the basis of interviews conducted with executives, senior managers and editors in Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the UK.

It shows how legacy news organisations are investing in a wide variety of digital news initiatives to reach new audiences and build new business models, but most of their revenues still come from traditional print and television operations, even after almost 20 years of investment in digital news.

Executive Summary

In this report, we examine how private sector legacy news organisations like newspapers and broadcasters in six European countries (Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the United Kingdom) are adapting to an evolving digital media environment.

The analysis is based on 54 interviews conducted between April and July 2016 primarily with executives, senior managers, and editors from a strategic sample of 25 newspapers and commercial broadcasters across Europe, as well as on survey data from the Reuters Institute Digital News Report and secondary sources.

We show that:

  • Newspapers and broadcasters, sometimes criticised for their conservatism, are investing in a wide variety of new digital initiatives to reach new audiences and generate new revenues. All the organisations covered see audiences moving from offline media to online media – quickly in the case of print to digital, and (thus far) more slowly in the case of television to digital. All aim to make a similar move to retain the audience connection upon which both their editorial impact and their business models depend.
  • In all the countries covered, private sector legacy news organisations reach more people with news than public service media, and more people get news online from newspapers and commercial broadcasters than get news via social media.
  • Despite their growing online reach, our interviews suggest 80 to 90% of revenues in most newspapers still come from print – even after years of decline in print advertising and circulation and almost 20 years of investment in digital media. Broadcasters generally have an even smaller share of digital revenues, primarily because their legacy operations have not yet been affected by the rise of online media to the same extent, but also because they have often been less focused on building a business around digital news.
  • As revenues from legacy operations are generally declining (print) or at best stable (broadcast) and digital revenues still limited, the resources for investments in digital initiatives generally continue to come from cross-subsidies and/or cost-cutting elsewhere in each organisation.
  • In terms of the business of digital news, interviewees highlight the following challenges when it comes to advertising:
    • the dominant role of large technology companies like Google and Facebook that attract a large share of online advertising;
    • the low average revenues per user, especially on the mobile web;
    • the growing number of people who use ad-blockers.
  • The challenges around advertising mean that more and more newspapers are moving to various forms of pay models, with the exception of a few high-profile titles with very large audiences. Only a minority of online news users have been willing to pay so far, but interviewees are cautiously optimistic that the number will grow.
  • Commercial broadcasters are generally seeking to replicate the television model of advertising-supported content free at the point of consumption in their approach to digital media. For many, news is a very small part of their overall business.
  • Beyond the turn to pay models, private sector legacy news organisations (especially newspapers) are exploring other alternative sources of revenue to supplement display advertising and subscription, including:
    • the launch of new verticals (content offerings beyond the organisations’ main brands), repackaged content products, and sections aimed at cultivating specific audiences more effectively;
    • investment in native advertising and branded content activities that are more effectively differentiated from generic display advertising;
    • diversification with a move into e-commerce, business-to-business services, and offline activities including events and merchandising.
  • Social media enable news organisations to reach a wider public, in particular younger people and other audiences who do not normally come direct to their sites or apps, but also imply a number of challenges related to editorial control, brand recognition, audience data, audience loyalty, and monetisation.
  • Many news organisations covered here are experimenting with distributed content formats (e.g. Facebook Instant Articles and Snapchat Discover), and see potential for synergy between publishers and platforms. Most selectively engage but want to evaluate the first results in term of reach and revenue before they decide how much to engage and with what. Other news organisations, in particular in France and Germany, have been more reluctant so far to distribute their content through third-party platforms and aim to be more self-reliant.
  • News organisations are addressing the growth of smartphone use by adapting their content to mobile devices, creating dedicated teams, adopting mobile-first approaches and focusing on the development of their news apps. However, the mobile advertising market is still much less developed than the desktop advertising market, and this represents a central challenge for the business of mobile news.
  • Online video advertising is growing fast and several news organisations are therefore investing in online video production and curation, strengthening their online video teams, experimenting with new formats and technologies (e.g. virtual reality, 360-degree, and social video), and seeking new ways to monetise online video news.
  • All our interviewees expect to see audiences and advertising continue to move from offline to online media, and expect to see the digital media environment itself continue to change, driven by evolving forms of use, new technologies, and initiatives from large technology companies. Individual organisations are adapting to this with varying degrees of success, but no clear generally applicable model(s) for sustainable digital news production have been developed so far. Every organisation examined is experimenting and forging its own path, seeking a balance between exploiting legacy operations, building digital operations, and exploring the opportunities ahead. Experimentation and exploration are an uncertain business, but encouraging in themselves – it is because of their decision to invest in the future that newspapers and commercial broadcasters continue to be central to an increasingly digital media environment.

This report is the first of a series of annual reports that will focus specifically on how European private sector legacy news organisations are adapting to the rise of digital media.

2016 Int’ Journal of Press/Politics Conference


I’m proud to present the 2016 International Journal of Press/Politics Conference, hosted September 29-30 by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

The full program including abstracts is here [PDF], and an overview with titles and presenters is below–we will be covering many issues relevant for the International Journal of Press/Politic‘s mission: to advance our understanding of the relations between news media and politics in a global perspective.

With more than 60 researchers from almost 20 countries and a keynote by Katrin Voltmer, it will be a truly international event and it is one I really look forward to–the second installment of what I hope will be an annual event, with the best and most relevant papers submitted to the journal for later publication.




 9.00-10.30                   Panels 1a and 1b 



Brexit 2016? Media reporting of the Referendum Campaign on UK Membership of the EU

Dominic Wring, David Deacon, John Downey and James Stanyer


Europe facing the immigration flow. Parochialism vs cosmopolitanism in the press

Paolo Mancini, Marco Mazzoni, Giovanni Barbieri, and Marco Damiani


The Coming Anocracy? Mediatized Politics in Thailand and Beyond

Duncan McCargo and Thaweeporn Kummetha


Mass righteous indignation as a form of contentious politics

Cherian George




Between the “citizen” and “consumer”: A comparative account of journalists’ roles in political and everyday life

Folker Hanusch and Thomas Hanitzsch


Opportunity makes the journalist?: An analysis of the blurring of boundaries between science and journalism during the COP21 summit

Stefanie Walter and Michael Brüggemann


The Impact of Media Policy on Journalistic Norms

Ruth Moon


From supplement to trigger? Changing role of social media in the mainstream Czech news production

Václav Štětka


10.45-12.15                 Panels 2a and 2b



Influences on Journalistic Practices Across European Digital Mediascapes

Zrinjka Peruško, Antonija Čuvalo and Dina Vozab


Reporters and Reformers: The European Fact-Checking Field in Comparative Context

Lucas Graves

Automatic Text Analysis of News Coverage As A Test Of Media System Theory

Iain McMenamin, Michael Breen, Michael Courtney, and Gemma McNulty


News in Catalonia: the formation of a differentiated Catalan media system

Manel Palos Pons




A free press in no match for corruption: how corruption poisoned the post-communist media

Lada Trifonova Price


Comparing the Role of Traditional and Digital Media in Political Communication in India and China: Populism versus Authoritarian Responsiveness

Ralph Schroeder


Changing Times, Changing Journalism: Shifting Journalistic Approaches in Transitional Democracy Explained

Claudia Mellado and Arjen Van Dalen


Who Speaks for the Past? Social Media, Social Memory, and the Production of Historical Knowledge in Contemporary China

Jun Liu



13.15-14.45     Panels 3a and 3b




Confucius Institutes and China’s Public Diplomacy: between benign cultural exchange and sinister propaganda

Falk Hartig


Journalism and Political Islam: the Case of Malaysia’s Harakah newspaper

Janet Steele


Theorizing Political Communication in the 21st century: People, Processes and Practices in an Age of Interconnection

Cristina Archetti


Shallow Globalization: Media discourse entanglements, the United Nations, and the performative neglect of global democratic necessities

Dirk-Claas Ulrich







The virtual Lobby: How politicians and journalists interact on Twitter during election campaigns

Marcel Broersma, Dan Jackson, Einar Thorsen, and Todd Graham


Involved or apathetic? Journalists’ relationship with the political sphere

Jessica Kunert and Neil Thurman


Professionalized political communication vs. speedy-journalism

Milda Celiešiūtė


Party organizations in the light of professionnalization of political communication

Lamprini Rori


15.00-16.00     Birds of a feather sessions


16.30-18.00     Panels 4a and 4b




Why political elites respond to news coverage: Information acquisition vs. strategic timing

Julie Sevenans


The emphasizing effect of the media: a comparative analysis of legislative processes

Lotte Melenhorst


Political agenda-setting put into context: How the electoral system shapes politicians’ reactions to media coverage

Luzia Helfer and Rudy Andeweg


Authority performances in mediatized policy networks

Esa Reunanen and Risto Kunelius




Networked Intermedia Agenda Setting

Helle Sjøvaag, Eirik Stavelin, Michael Karlsson and Aske Kammer


Put it in the context: Regional and national references in the press

Ramona Vonbun


[New] Media Systems, Public Spheres, and Local Political Discourses

Dirk von Schneidemesser


Political sources in the news

Helle Sjøvaag




9.00-10.30       Keynote lecture by Katrin Voltmer


11.00-12.30                 Panels 5a and 5b



Data, democracy and political communication: the case of the 2015 UK general election

Nick Anstead


Inter-media agenda-setting in the social media age. How Twitter influences the media agenda in election times

Raymond Harder, Peter Van Aelst, Julie Sevenans, and Steve Paulussen


Focus points of political attention: Collective curating on Twitter during the federal election 2013 in Germany

Andreas Jungherr and Oliver Posegga


Tweeting the electoral cycle: political debate and sentiment analysis of the Greek elections in 2015

Moses Boudourides, Dimitra Dimitrakopoulou, Sergios Lenis, and

Pantelis Vikatos,





How Political Disagreements Lead to Participation: Comparing less and more experienced voters in the case of the U.S. 2014 midterm elections

Hailey Hyun-kyung Oh


The Engaging Effect of Exemplars

Kim Andersen, Morten Skovsgaard, Erik Albaek, and Claes H. de Vreese


Practicing “Engagement”: A Cross-National Comparison

Regina G. Lawrence, Damian Radcliffe, Thomas Schmidt


Participation features in news websites: A comparative study

Yacov Netzer






13.30-14.30                 Panels 6a and 6b (3-paper sessions)




Media Scandal and Support for Regulation: How Audience Outrage Affects Public Opinion About the Press

Erik Bucy and Nichole Bauer


Explaining the formation of online news startups in France and the US: A field analysis

Matthew Powers and Sandra Vera Zambrano


Political journalists’ branding practices on social media: A comparative analysis

Folker Hanusch





Taking the lead? Understanding dynamics of individual politicians’ visibility in traditional and online media”

Sanne Kruikemeier, Katjana Gattermann, and Rens Vliegenthart


How coalition governments affect the personalisation of politics in the media

Ana Ines Langer and Iñaki Sagarzazu


Connecting politicians to issues: the impact of specialization and issue ownership on news coverage

Kirsten Van Camp



15.00-16.00     Roundtable with IJPP Ed. Board members and closing remarks

Are book chapters worth writing?

Instrumentally rational academics are supposed to avoid book chapters like the plague. They are not prestigious. They do not get cited very much. They are often hard to access. They tend to take forever to be published. As one colleague likes to say: “Friends do not let friends write book chapters.”

And yet I end up doing it again and again, sometimes quite like it.

As I see it, the key issue is not what the book chapter itself can do for me, but what the process of writing it can help me do. This may not be instrumentally rational, but perhaps reasonable.

I’ve found the genre helpful in three ways in particular (and I hope the outcome is sometimes useful for others). I think of them as (1) argumentative chapters, (2) trailer chapters, and (3) review chapters.

First, argumentative chapters—a book chapter can be a useful way of developing an argument that is interpretive and personal, a genre that contemporary social science is not very hospitable to. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed thinking through the relationship between digital technology and democracy as I wrote my entry for Ben Peter’s Digital Keywords. It’s help me share some thoughts that underlie quite a lot of other things I do and also generated a lot of really interesting discussions at various presentations in recent years.


Second, trailer chapters. A book chapter can help test out ideas in advance of a larger empirical project operationalizing the underlying concerns. For example, back in 2014, I wrote a chapter on varieties of online gatekeeping (which now, more than two years later, is on its way out…) that helped me formulate some of the questions I am now pursuing in a project focusing on the relationship between digital intermediaries and news organizations.


Third, review chapters—a book chapter can help structure a systematic review of a field of research, something I did for example when I wrote this handbook chapter on the business of journalism which after further revisions has come out in the new SAGE Handbook of Digital Journalism. Writing such a chapter imposes an obligation to really review what is out there, but also make judgements about what the most important findings are.

rkn-businessIt’s clear that there are other times where a book chapter does not help develop a personal, interpretive argument, trail a research program, or review a field.

But hey—academics are in a high waste business. Much of what we do have no impact at all, even within our own internal discussions.

It’s hard to know in advance what will help you and what might help others, so maybe hard and fast judgements for or against a whole genre are a bit premature. Of course we need to make choices, and especially junior academics have to think about not only what they value, but also what their field values.

But not everything we do need to be instrumentally rational, as long as it is intellectually useful, and I’ve found even much-maligned book chapters intellectually useful for some things.

APSA 2016 Political Communication Preconference Agenda

Very happy to have been involved in organizing the American Political Science Association 2016 Political Communication Preconference this year. Programme below.





DATE:                       Wednesday August 31st

LOCATION:             Temple University’s Center City campus at 1515 Market Street, Philadelphia PA, 19102.


  • 8:AM to 8:45AM:             BREAKFAST & REGISTRATION (Rm. 222)


  • 8:45AM to 9:00AM:             WELCOMES (Rm. 222)


  • 9:00AM to 10:15AM: PANELS


  • Gender, Class & Age (Chair: Diana Owen, Georgetown University) (Rm. 420)
    • Computer Silence: Gender Differences in Online Comment Sections. Natalie Jomini Stroud (The University of Texas at Austin), Emily Van Duyn (The University of Texas at Austin) and Cynthia Peacock (The University of Texas at Austin).
    • Visual Communication and Candidate Evaluation: Testing the Influence of Images on Support for Male and Female Candidates. Nichole Bauer (University of Alabama) and Colleen Carpinella (Disney Research).
    • Class Opinion Alignment: The Influence of Poverty Discourse on the Political Attitudes of Low-income Citizens. Lori Young (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania).
    • The Gender Gap and Online Political Activity in Canadian Politics. Tamara A. Small (University of Guelph), Harold Jansen (University of Lethbridge), Frédérick Bastien (Université de Montréal), Thierry Giasson (Université Laval) and Royce Koop (University of Manitoba).
    • Political Information Usage and Sources for Young Citizens: Comparison of Electoral and Non-Electoral Periods. Andrius Suminas (Vilnius University).


  • Media and Political Engagement I (Chair: Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Oxford University) (Rm. 421)
    • WhatApp..ening to Political Discussion in Europe? Instant Messaging Services and Political Engagement in Italy, United Kingdom and Germany. Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna) and Cristian Vaccari (Royal Holloway, University of London and University of Bologna).
    • Fly My Pretties: John Oliver, Net Neutrality, and Comedy as an Agent of Political Activation. Leticia Bode (Georgetown University) and Amy Becker (Loyola University Maryland).
    • Digital Politics and the Political Community. Michael J. Jensen (Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra).
    • The Instagram Election: The Role of Visual Social Media in the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Terri Towner (Oakland University).


  • Partisan Media (Chair: Bruce Hardy, Temple University) (Rm. 422)
    • Media Issue Ownership: Reconciling Partisan News and Issue Ownership. McGregor, Shannon C. (University of Texas – Austin).
    • Media Choice and Moderation: Evidence from an Experiment With Digital Trace Data. Andrew Guess (New York University).
    • The Impact of Partisan News Exposure on Perceptions of the Opposing Party and Public Confidence in the Electoral System. Hye-Yon Lee (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania).
    • Self and Contextually Activated Networks: An Expanded Approach to Selective Exposure. Benjamin Lyons (University of Pennsylvania)


  • 10:15AM to 10:30AM:    BREAK
  • 10:30AM to 11:45AM:    PANELS


  • Campaigns & Elections (Chair: Michael X. Delli Carpini, University of Pennsylvania) (Rm. 420)
    • Online Interaction: Do Candidates Still Avoid It? Jennifer Stromer-Galley (Syracuse University), Patricia Rossini (University of Minas Gerais, Brazil), Lauren Bryant (University at Albany, SUNY), Bryan Semaan (Syracuse University), Jeff Hemsley (Syracuse University), Kate Kenski (University of Arizona) and Feifei Zhang (Syracuse University).
    • The Promise of Social Media Intelligence: Leveraging Consumer Analytical Tools to Understand Voters Online in 2016. Sarah Oates (University of Maryland College Park) and Wendy Moe (University of Maryland College Park).
    • Oh Snap: Chat Videostyle in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign. Eisa Al Nashmi (Kuwait University) and David Painter (Rollins College).
    • Tipping the Balance of Power in Elections? Voters’ Engagement in the Digital Campaign. Diana Owen (Georgetown University).
    • Relational Labor in Candidates’ Social Media Presence. Shannon C McGregor (University of Texas – Austin) and Nancy Baym (Microsoft Research).



  • Disagreement, Negativity & Incivility (Chair: Dannagal Young, University of Delaware) (Rm. 421)
    • Liberal and Conservative Political Incivility. Ashley Muddiman (University of Kansas).
    • How Personality Traits Affect Voters’ Campaign Tone Perceptions and Responses. Annemarie Walter (School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham), Travis Ridout (School of Politics and International Relations, Washington State University) and Cees Van der Eijk (School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham).
    • How Political Disagreements Lead to Participation: Comparing Less and More Experienced Voters in the Case of the U.S. 2014 Midterm Elections. Hailey Hyun-kyung Oh (George Mason University).
    • Deliberative Signals: The Importance of Incivility in Highlighting Anti-Democratic Rhetoric. Emily Sydnor (Southwestern University) and Grace Atkins (Southwestern University).


  • Protest, Revolution and Media (Chair: Abby Jones, Visiting Scholar, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania) (Rm. 422)
    • Revolutionary Narratives and the Future of Revolution. Guobin Yang (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania).
    • The Contagion Effects of Protest Movements – Pegida and Party Politics in Germany. Sebastian Stier (GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Cologne), Arnim Bleier (GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Cologne), Christoph Kling (GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Cologne) and Lisa Posch (GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Cologne).
    • Democracy, New Media and Social Actors in Contemporary Spanish Politics. Leocadia Díaz Romero (Murcia State University).
    • From Connective Action to Connective People: An Empirical Evidence from Egypt. Mostafa Shehata (Roskilde University).


  • 11:45AM to 12:30PM:     LUNCH (Rm. 222)


  • 12:30PM to 1:30PM:       KEYNOTE & DISCUSSION ON THE 2016 U.S.



  • Facilitator: Michael Hagen (Temple University)
  • David Nickerson (Temple University)



(Rm. 222)


  • CHAIR: Regina Lawrence (School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon)
    • Geoffrey Baym (Temple University)
    • Andrew Chadwick (Royal Holloway, University of London)
    • Daniel Kreiss (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
    • Dannagal Young (University of Delaware)


  • 2:30PM to 2:45PM:         BREAK


  • 2:45PM to 4:00PM:       PANELS


  • Journalism, News, and Politics (Chair: Geoffrey Baym, Temple University) (Rm. 420)
    • Platformed Publishing? The Rise of Digital Intermediaries, the Transformation of Online Journalism, and Implications for Mediated Politics. Rasmus Kleis Nielson (Oxford University) and Sarah Anne Ganter (Oxford University).
    • Analyzing PolitiFact.com: Assessments of Key Partisan Claims Regarding President Obama. Stephen J. Farnsworth (University of Mary Washington) and Robert S. Lichter (George Mason University).
    • Objective and Subjective Political Knowledge in the New Media Environment. Kylee Britzman (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).
    • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Combining Journalistic Ideals and Political Satire. John Remensperger (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania).


  • Issue Coverage in Comparative Perspective (Chair: Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Syracuse University) (Rm. 421)
    • Threatening or Sympathetic? The Cross-National Framing of the Syrian Mass Exodus. Abby Jones (Visiting Scholar, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania).
    • Communist Party’s Soft Power in Cross-national Persuasion Videos: Shaping China’s Image among Overseas Audiences. Kecheng Fang (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania) and Diana C. Mutz (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania).
    • Ownership, Differential Framing and Attitudes to Labor Unions: Evidence from Two Experiments. Liam Kneafsey (Trinity College, Dublin).
    • Social Media Use and Fear Levels after the Paris 2015 Attacks. A Comparative Study. Shana Kushner Gadarian (Syracuse University),
      Kari Steen-Johnsen (Institute for Social Research, Oslo) and Bernard Enjolras (Institute for Social Research, Oslo).




  • Media and Political Engagement II (Chair: Lance Holbert, Temple University) (Rm. 422)
    • Ask Me Anything: How Elites Trigger Political Participation on Reddit. Galen Stocking (Pew Research Center), Michael Barthel (Pew Research Center), Jeff Gottfried (Pew Research Center), and Katerina Matsa (Pew Research Center).
    • Getting to the Grassroots: How Corporate Sponsored Activist Groups Are Covered in the News. Tim Wood (New York University).
    • Explaining Constituent Calls and Online Comments: The Role of Organized Interests in Grassroots Lobbying. Kelsey Shoub (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) and John Cluverius (University of Massachusetts, Lowell).
    • Skipping Politics: Measuring Avoidance of Political Content in Social Media. Leticia Bode (Georgetown University), Emily Vraga (George Mason University), and Sonya Troller-Renfree (University of Maryland).
    • Internet Campaigning in Japan and Taiwan: A Comparative Institutional Approach. Shoko Kiyohara (Meiji University) and Chen Boyu (University of Niigata Prefecture).


  • 4:00PM to 5:00PM: “BIRDS OF A FEATHER” SESSIONS (Facilitated Open

Discussions among Interested Scholars)


  • #WomenAlsoKnowStuff (Room 420)
    • Facilitators
      • Amber Boydstun (University of California, Davis)
      • Samara Klar (University of Arizona)
      • Yanna Krupnikov (Stony Brook University)
      • Kathleen Searles (Louisiana State University)


  • Comparative Political Communication (Rm 421)
    • Facilitators
      • Kari Steen-Johnsen (Institute for Social Research, Oslo Norway)
      • Cristian Vaccari (University of London)


  • Digital Trace Data (Rm. 422)
    • Facilitators
      • Deen Freelon (American University)
      • Andrew Guess (New York University)
      • Andreas Jungherr (University of Konstanz)


  • 5:00PM to 5:30PM:        TRAVEL TO TEMPLE’S MAIN CAMPUS



(Location TBD)

2016 Digital News Report out

Ck-emQXXEAE-2rG.jpgThe 2016 Reuters Institute Digital News Report is now out, surveying online news users across 26 countries with a combined population of around 1.3 billion.

It’s the fifth year we’ve conducted the survey, working with a wide ranger of partners and sponsors from all over the world.

As always, our report documents that there are important differences in how digital news is developing even within otherwise relatively similar high income democracies.

But there are some key commonalities across most markets identified in the main report by lead author Nic Newman working with Richard Fletcher, David Levy, and myself.

  1. The increasing  importance of social media, especially Facebook, for how people find and access news.
  2. The rapid growth of mobile news use, driven especially by smartphone.
  3. The use of online video for news growing less rapidly than publishers and platforms investing heavily in this format might have hoped for.
  4. An evolving set of challenges around the business of journalism, with the move to a more distributed environment, the rise of mobile, and the spread of ad-blockers adding to existing challenges–though the incremental growth in the number of people subscribing and the continued relevance of brands give some reasons for optimism.
  5. A mixed picture when it comes to people’s trust in news and the value they see in editorial curation versus for example personalized recommendations.

My one-liner on the development? Some winners, many losers.

The full report is available here.

The digitalnewsreport.org website offers interactive graphics, more essays, underlying data, as well as previous years’ reports.

This video summarize the main points in 2 minutes and 15 seconds (!).

And this slideshare provides a fuller overview of trends across different countries.

The Digital News Report in the wild

One of the most interesting things about working on the report is the opportunity to take it  on the road and discuss it with journalists, people from the news media, technology companies, media regulators, academics, and others.

We and our partners have organized events around the report in a range of countries including not only the UK and the US, but also Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain (with more to come!).

On YouTube, you can find videos of some of the presenetations and discussions, including from our London launch event, where Nic Newman presented the report and discussed it with a panel including David Pemsel, Chief Executive Officer, Guardian Media Group, and Executive Chair, Guardian News & Media; John McAndrew, Director of Content, Sky News; Katie Vanneck-Smith, Chief Customer Officer & Global Managing Director, International Dow Jones; and Stephen Hull, Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post UK. See the full video from the London launch here.

In New York, I presented the report at an event hosted by the Tow Center at the Columbia Journalism School, and discussed the findings with a panel including  the Tow Center Director Emily Bell, Huffington Post Executive Editor Liz Heron, Dow Jones Chief Innovation Officer Edward Roussell, and Vivian Schiller. See the full video from the New York launch here (first 1 hour and 45 minutes is about the DNR, the rest a very interesting presentation by Claire Wardle of ongoing Tow Center research).

Coverage of the 2016 Digital News Report

The report has been covered by a wide range of news media across the world, and a couple of examples can be found here from the Columbia Journalism Review, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Journalism.co.uk, the MediaBriefing, the Nieman Labs blog and many, many more. Very pleased to note that the Hindustan Times picked it up! You can also listen to Nic Newman discussing the report on the BBC’s Media Show here and if you watched the BBC World News Channel June 15 when we launched, you may even have caught a climpse of me discussing the changing ways  in which young people get news.