Congratulations to IJPP authors – ICA awards

Very proud that two articles recently published in the International Journal of Press/Politics were honored at the 2017 International Communication Association.

First, Claudio Mellado and Arjen van Dalen won a Top Faculty Paper Award from the Journalism Studies Division for their excellent paper on how journalistic role performance has evolved over time in Chile from 1990 onwards, published  in our April issue.

Mellado, Claudia, and Arjen Van Dalen. 2017. “Changing Times, Changing Journalism: A Content Analysis of Journalistic Role Performances in a Transitional Democracy.” The International Journal of Press/Politics 22 (2): 244–63. doi:10.1177/1940161217693395.
Second, Julia Lück, Antal Wozniak, and Hartmut Wessler were the finalist for the Wolfgang Donsbach Outstanding Journal Article of the Year, also given by the Journalism Studies Division, for their terrific paper on how reporters and sources co-produce climate change coverage at international summits, published last year.
Lück, Julia, Antal Wozniak, and Hartmut Wessler. 2016. “Networks of Coproduction: How Journalists and Environmental NGOs Create Common Interpretations of the UN Climate Change Conferences.” The International Journal of Press/Politics 21 (1): 25–47. doi:10.1177/1940161215612204.

 

Advertisements

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.)

DAsz5JRXUAAwbLi.jpg large

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.

2017 International Journal of Press/Politics Book Award to Katrin Voltmer

I’m happy to anVoltmer-MediaTransDemocnounce that Katrin Voltmer (University of Leeds) is the recipient of the 2017 International Journal of Press/Politics Book Award for her book The Media in Transitional Democracies (Polity Press, 2013).

Below is the official announcement of the award from the full award committee, which included Peter van Aelst (as Chair of the ICA Political Communication Division) Henrik Örnebring (as Chair of the ICA Journalism Studies Division), and myself (as editor of the journal).

2017 International Journal of Press/Politics Book Award to Katrin Voltmer

Political communication research and journalism studies has grown more international  and transnational in recent years, but the majority of English-language academic work still tends to focus on a small number of in a global perspective very unusual high income democracies, and many of our shared theoretical, methodological, and substantial assumptions are derived from research on these countries.

Everyone recognize that this – despite the evident progressive both fields have made – limits our ability to understand political communication and journalism more broadly, as it plays out in very different political, media, and social contexts across the world.

But pushing our shared understanding in a more truly international direction has often been left to area specialists and regional studies, and have not always been tied back to core underlying concerns about the relationship between media and politics.

Katrin Voltmer’s 2013 book The Media in Transitional Democracies marks a break with these implicit and explicit biases. The award committee, which this year consisted of Peter van Aelst, Henrik Örnebring, and myself, is proud to honor it with the 2017 International Journal of Press/Politics Book Award for its truly comprehensive synthesis of comparative politics, political communication, and journalism studies research on transitional democracies from across the world. The Media in Transitional Democracies develops an original and important argument about how media and politics develop in path-dependent ways depending on previous regime types, and provides a systematic overview of existing research that covers a broad set of case countries from all over the world.

The award was instituted by the journal in 2015 to honor “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 sponsored by Sage.

Books published within the last ten years are eligible for the award, and we have again had a very strong field of candidates. This is a real testament to the theoretical creativity, methodological rigor, and growing internationalization of both political communication and journalism studies research.

The award committee agreed that Katrin’s book stood out as a particularly necessary work, a relevant book on understudied important topics, a book with a truly global orientation, and a book that combines synthesis and original argumentation with nuance and a humble recognition of how much remains to be done before our shared understanding of media and politics – as well as our theoretical, methodological, and substantial assumptions about how to study it – match the global nature of our objects of analysis and the importance of what we study.

I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Katrin for writing this book. The award is simply a way for the community to recognize and highlight her contribution.

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

Dealing with digital intermediaries – article out

In a new article, “Dealing with digital intermediaries”, Sarah Anne Ganter and I examine relations between publishers and platform companies.

The article presents an in-depth case study and show that publishers’ relationships to platforms are characterized by a tension between (1) short-term, operational, often editorially led pursuit of the opportunities offered by both search and social to reach people and (2) more long-term strategic worries about whether publishers will become too dependent on platform companies, including worries over whether they will lose control over their editorial identity, access to user data, and central parts of their revenue models.

On the basis of interviews with senior editorial staff, people from management, and technologists, we show that the way the case organization handles its relationship with different platforms is shaped by a fear of missing out, by the difficulties of evaluating the risk/reward ratio of engaging with different initiatives developed by platform companies, and by a sense of a profound asymmetry as a large news media organization finds itself dealing with far larger platforms.

Ultimately, our analysis suggests that publishers are becoming simultaneously increasingly empowered by and dependent upon a small number of centrally placed and powerful digital platforms largely beyond their control.

The article is published in New Media & Society and available as open access here and here as PDF.

The work behind the piece was supported by the Tietgen Award that I received in 2014 from the DSEB.

Summer school on comparative qualitative research on journalism and news media

I’m organizing a summer  school at the Reuters Institute in Oxford September 11-12 with Lucas Graves and Annika Sehl. It’s going to be great. Apply by May 31 to join. Full info below.

Some of the most important research on journalism and news media has been based on qualitative studies, including in-depth interviews, ethnography, historical studies, and other qualitative methods. Such work has generated lasting empirical insights as well as many of the foundational concepts in the academic study of media and communications.

Qualitative research has, however, tended to produce insights which are less ‘portable’ to new research questions and contexts. Too often the impact of this kind of scholarship is limited because findings are highly specific to the case and/or country studied, because engagement with theoretical work is not explicit, or because the logic of generalisation and the standards of validity have not been made clear.

These hurdles are especially pronounced in the vital emerging domain of comparative international media research. Well-designed qualitative work — whether carefully situated case-studies or explicitly comparative projects — has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of, for example, the economic and professional forces reshaping news production today — changes which are playing out very differently in different organizations and media systems. But we have so far seen far less systematically comparative and internationally oriented qualitative research on journalism and news media than what has been pursued by, for example, researchers focused on content analysis, role perceptions, and the like.

The purpose of this two-day summer school for advanced doctoral students and early career researchers, hosted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, is to explore the unique promise of qualitative methods for comparative scholarship in journalism and media/communications and to help the participants connect their individual projects to wider discussions to in order to increase their substantive contribution and impact.

Through a combination of seminars led by Oxford-based researchers and workshop discussions of work-in-progress from the participants, the aim is to:

  1. Significantly advance our shared understanding of the methodological issues involved in advancing genuinely comparative and internationally-oriented qualitative research on journalism and news media,
  2. Explicitly engage with theoretical discussions that can help structure such work and clarify its contribution (beyond describing interesting and sometimes intrinsically important cases), most notably recent work drawing on institutional theory and science and technology studies.
  3. Help the participants think about their own individual research as contributing to a collective and cumulative attempt to understand the evolution of news and journalism, and to identify potential collaborators for cross-country studies.

Seminars at the summer school will be led by Lucas Graves, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, and Annika Sehl.

All participants will be provided with a reading list in advance for the seminars and will be asked to submit a draft article or chapter that they would like to workshop and get feedback on from the organizers and the other participants at the summer school.

The participation fee is £149 per person, covering the summer school itself as well as lunch both days and dinner at an Oxford college. The participation fee does not cover transport and accommodation (which each participant will be responsible for organizing on their own).

We will accept a maximum of 12 participants for the summer school to ensure that we have an intimate and constructive forum for discussion and that everyone can get detailed feedback on their work. We will aim for a diverse group to advance our goal of building towards more comparative, international qualitative research on journalism and news media.

To apply to take part, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words outlining the central research question, empirical basis, and driving hypotheses and intellectual stakes of the work that you would like to present to Philippa Garson at philippa.garson@politics.ox.ac.uk no later than May 31. Please direct practical questions to her, and substantive questions about the program to Lucas Graves at lucas.graves@wisc.edu.

We will notify those accepted before the end of June.

About the summer school organisers

Lucas Graves is Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen is Director of Research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Press/Politics.

Annika Sehl is Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

About the Reuters Institute

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is based in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. The Institute was launched in November 2006 and developed from the Reuters Fellowship Programme, established at Oxford more than 30 years ago. The institute is committed to connecting timely and rigorous research from a range of different disciplines to the substantial issues facing journalism and news media around the world.

“The Changing Business of Journalism and its Implications for Democracy” as free download

Back in 2010, David Levy and I edited a collection of essays on The Changing Business of Journalism and its Implications for Democracy, published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism here in Oxford.

We have today made the whole book available for download here [PDF]. (All the hard copies have been sold!)

In addition to the chapters written by David, Robert Picard, and myself, the book contains interesting contributions by Alice Antheaume (Sciences Po, Paris), Michael Brüggemann (University of Zürich, now Hamburg), Frank Esser (University of Zürich), John Lloyd (University of Oxford/Financial Times), Hannu Nieminen (University of Helsinki),  Mauro Porto (Tulane University), Michael Schudson (Columbia University), Daya Kishan Thussu (University of Westminster), and Sacha Wunsch-Vincent (World Intellectual Property Organisation and formerly OECD).

Nicholas Lemann and Paolo Mancini provided the advance praise with some very nice quotes.

The Changing Business of Journalism and its Implications for Democracy, as the only rigorous global survey of a situation usually discussed on the basis of anecdote and unproved assertion, is an indispensable and necessary work. It ought to open the way for real progress in reinventing journalism.

Nicholas Lemann, Dean and Henry R. Luce Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

This is a very detailed and rich analysis of the structural changes in today’s business of journalism: the media in many countries face a deep crisis caused both by new technologies and more general economic circumstances while in others they are experiencing rapid growth. In both cases the entire structure of the field is undergoing a dramatic change in terms of professional practice and in how media are organized and run. This book represents an indispensable tool for all those who want to understand where journalism and democracy are going today.

Paolo Mancini, Professor at Università di Perugia and co-author of Comparing Media Systems (Cambridge, 2004).

The full table of content looks as follows:

Contents

Executive summary

1. The Changing Business of Journalism and its
Implications for Democracy
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and David A. L. Levy

2. A Business Perspective on Challenges Facing Journalism
Robert G. Picard

3. Online News: Recent Developments, New Business
Models and Future Prospects
Sacha Wunsch-Vincent

4. The Strategic Crisis of German Newspapers
Frank Esser and Michael Brüggemann

5. The Unravelling Finnish Media Policy Consensus?
Hannu Nieminen

6. The French Press and its Enduring Institutional Crisis
Alice Antheaume

7. The Press We Destroy
John Lloyd

8. News in Crisis in the United States: Panic – And Beyond
Michael Schudson

9. The Changing Landscape of Brazil’s News Media
Mauro P. Porto

10. The Business of ‘Bollywoodized’ Journalism
Daya Kishan Thussu

11. Which Way for the Business of Journalism?
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and David A. L. Levy