New Article out in Political Communication: The Campaign Disinformation Divide in the 2019 UK General Election

In an article just published open-access in Political Communication with Andrew Chadwick and Johannes Kaiser, we shed new light on the role of different sources of campaign news in enabling citizens to discern between true and false information, and to share such information.

Based on two surveys on samples mirroring the UK adult population during the 2019 General Election in the UK, we found that the sources from which citizens got their campaign news mattered a great deal. The more respondents got their news from professional news organizations (broadsheets, tabloids, television, radio, and professional news websites) the more they were able to distinguish true from false information, and to share it. Conversely, the more respondents relied on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and private messaging apps such as WhatsApp) for campaign news, the less they were able to distinguish true from false information, and the more likely they were to share false than true information.

We term this bifurcation “campaign disinformation divide” and argue it has important implications for contemporary politics, as citizens increasingly rely on social media and messaging apps for news and professional news organizations face challenges to the viability of their business models and lower levels of public trust.

Perhaps most troublingly, we also found that false news, once they were believed, were more likely to be shared than true news, as the figure below highlights. This means that those combating the spread of falsehoods online face an uphill battle, as such falsehoods seem to enjoy a competitive advantage among users, as shown by other studies based in the United States.

This project was made possible by a collaboration with Opinium Research, a leading research company, which generously invited us to add our experiment to their multi-wave general election tracker surveys. The article will be part of a special issue on “Digital Campaigning in Dissonant Public Spheres”, guest edited by Karolina Koc Michalska, Ulrike Klinger, Andrea Römmele, and W. Lance Bennett.

This has been a fascinating study to design and I have learned a lot from it. I will be sure to take these findings on board in my work as Co-Rapporteur for the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Integrity of Online Information, where we are drafting a Guidance Note on countering the spread of online mis- and disinformation through fact-checking and platform design solutions in a human rights compliant manner. For me, the key policy implication of these findings is that reducing the spread and negative impacts of misinformation and disinformation in contemporary society will require both strengthening professional news organizations, including fact-checkers, and ensuring that the design of social media platforms and messaging apps promotes better-quality information.

To read the article, visit the Political Communication website, where you can also access an extensive Supplementary Materials file and replication data (via the Open Science Framework).

Program of the eighth conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics (Loughborough University, 21-23 September 2022)

On 21-23 September, seventy scholars from many different countries and disciplines will present research on the relationship between media and politics in an international perspective at Loughborough University during the eight conference of The International Journal of Press/Politics, which I am honored to serve as Editor-in-Chief. I am delighted to share the conference program. Apart from the keynote speech, the conference will be held at the Holywell Park Conference Centre at Loughborough University. Registration is required to participate in the conference. The conference is hosted by the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture.

Wednesday, September 21

17:00               Brockington Building, room U0.20
Keynote speech by Maria Repnikova (Georgia State University)
Advancing Research on Communication under Authoritarianism

19:00               Burleigh Court Hotel
Conference inaugural dinner

Thursday, September 22

8:00-8:45        Holywell Park Conference Centre
Coffee and refreshments

8:45-9:00        Stephenson room
Welcome and opening remarks

9:00-10:30      Brunel / Murdoch room
Panel 1A: New theories and concepts for political communication in a changing world
Chair: Ariadne Vromen (Australian National University)

Speaking of Africa: Sociology and the Study of Media in ‘Majority World Countries’
j. Wahutu Siguru (New York University), Zhuoru Deng (New York University), Osman Osman (New York University)

The dynamic journalistic intermediary model (DJIM) of communicative transaction in a networked public sphere
Jakob Ohme (Freie Universität Berlin), Anna-Theresa Mayer (Freie Universität Berlin), Timothy Charlton-Czaplicki (Copenhagen Business School), Christoph Neuberger (Freie Universität Berlin)

A theory of cultural resonance process in political and media communication
Cristina Monzer (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

9:00-10:30      Pascal room
Panel 1B: Social media and election campaigns
Chair: Kari Steen-Johnsen (Institute for Social Research)

Between anger and love: Comparing citizen engagement with party posts during election campaigns across three countries
Hedvig Tønnesen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Márton Bene (Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence, Eötvös Loránd University), Jörg Haßler (LMU Munich), Anders Olof Larsson (Kristiania University College), Melanie Magin (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Eli Skogerbø (University of Oslo), Anna-Katharina Wurst (LMU Munich)

Populist Political Communication Style and Personalization on social media: The case of Greek MPs
Amalia Triantafillidou (University of Western Macedonia), Georgios Lappas (University of Western Macedonia) *presenting remotely

Framing candidate image from a strategic perspective: A visual communication analysis on Instagram in 2019 Spanish Elections
Rocío Zamora (University of Murcia), Marta Rebolledo (University of Navarra), Shahira S. Fahmy (American University of Cairo)

10:30 – 11:00  Holywell Park Conference Centre
Coffee break

11:00-13:00    Brunel / Murdoch room
Panel 2A: Understanding and limiting the impact of misinformation
Chair: Hossein Kermani (University of Vienna)

Political Scandals, Fabricated Evidence, and Journalistic Fact-Checking
Viorela Dan (LMU Munich)

It’s all in the Measurement: Varying Association of Subjective vs. Actual Social Media Usage with Reaction to Misinformation Exposure
Waqas Ejaz (University of Oxford)

“I love reading fake news. Don’t always believe what you read”. How Social Media Users React to Political Online Misinformation by Commenting
Sophie Morosoli (University of Antwerp)

Assessing the impact of disinformation narratives in a polarized electoral campaign: the case of 2021 Catalan elections
Jaume Suau (Ramon LLull University), Elena Yeste (Ramon LLull University)

11:00-13:00    Pascal room
Panel 2B: Communication and propaganda on the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Chair: Sabina Mihelj (Loughborough University)

The Dissemination of Russian-backed content in European Alternative News Environments
Jakob Bæk Kristensen (Roskilde University), Frederik Møller Henriksen (Roskilde University), Eva Mayerhöffer (Roskilde University)

The Image War as a significant fighting arena: Evidence from the Ukrainian battle over perceptions during the 2022 Russian invasion
Moran Yarchi (Reichman University)

A place to rally around the flag or hub of subversive information? Telegram during Russo – Ukrainian war
Tamara Grechanaya (University of Milan) *presenting remotely

Crowd intelligence: Exploring the epistemic role of OSINT communities
Timothy Charlton-Czaplicki (Copenhagen Business School), Anna-Theresa Mayer (Freie Universität Berlin), Jakob Ohme (Freie Universität Berlin)

13:00-14:00    Holywell Park Conference Centre

14:00-16:00    Brunel / Murdoch room
Panel 3A: Media, pluralism, and democracy
Chair: Leslie Tkach-Kawasaki (University of Tsukuba)

Understanding the role of the Colombian media in a peace process during a ‘political wave’: the 2014 escalation of the conflict
Jose David Ortega Chavez (University of Leeds)

Modi Media? Heteronomy and Autonomy in the Indian journalistic field
Rohit Dasgupta (University of Glasgow), Debasreeta Deb (University of Hyderabad), John Downey (Loughborough University), Bhargav Nimmagadda, (Manipal Institute of Communication), Vinod Pavarala, (University of Hyderabad), Madhavi Ravi Kumar (University of Hyderabad)

What can we learn from the short history of independent media in Serbia? George Soros, Radio B92, and new models of media development
Janet Steele (George Washington University)

Vive la petite différence! The business of gender in the production of financial news in the Arabian Gulf
Jairo Lugo-Ocando (University of Sharjah),.Faisal AlAqeel (King Saud University) *presenting remotely

14:00-16:00    Pascal room
Panel 3B: Media and political information
Chair: j. Wahutu Siguru (New York University)

Journalism and the Center-Periphery Cleavage: How national and local news media covered the 2021 municipal elections in Denmark
Mark Blach-Ørsten (Roskilde University), Mads Kæmsgaard Eberholst (Roskilde University)

Local News in National Elections: Assessing News and Information Provision During a Critical Democratic Event
Martin Moore (King’s College London), Gordon Neil Ramsay (University of Akureyri)

Trump Kissing Pence, Clinton Leading the Waltz: The Role of Gender Stereotypes in Saturday Night Live Portrayals of Presidential Candidates
Caroline V. Leicht (University of Southampton)

Supporting the spread: the role of heuristic thinking in the proliferation of online propaganda
Valentina Nerino (University of Trento)

16:00 – 16:30  Holywell Park Conference Centre
Coffee break

16:30-18:30    Brunel / Murdoch room
Panel 4A: Political elites and information flows
Chair: Danielle K. Brown (University of Minnesota)

How and why do anti-establishment and mainstream politicians share news on social media
Risto Niemikari (Tampere University)

Authoritarian regimes and defusing Twitter threat: the case of transforming Iranian Twittersphere to a less challenging space
Hossein Kermani (University of Vienna)

Policy actors’ struggle for attention in the migration discourse. The role of semantic, ideological and attributional diversity on Twitter
Sara Schmitt (University of Stuttgart), Hakan G. Sicakkan (University of Bergen), Pierre-Georges Van Wolleghem (University of Bergen), Raphael H. Heiberger (University of Stuttgart) *presenting remotely

Vertical disinformation: a comparative analysis between Trump and Bolsonaro’s communication strategies during the COVID-19 outbreak
Rose Marie Santini (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), Heloísa Traiano (Leiden University), Débora Salles (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), Fernando Ferreira (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) *presenting remotely

16:30-18:00    Pascal room
Panel 4B: The flow of political information in contemporary media environments
Chair: Caroline V. Leicht (University of Southampton)

International News Flow in a Digital Era: A Network Analysis of Online News Websites’ Mentions and Hyperlinks
Diyi Liu ( University of Oxford)

Political Influences on News Distortion in Professional News Organizations
Doron Shultziner (Hadassah Academic College)

Political agenda setting in the digital public sphere – an actor centered approach
Rune Karlsen (University of Oslo), Kari Steen-Johnsen (Institute for Social Research)

20:00   Peter Pizzeria – 17-18 Baxter Gate, Loughborough LE11 1TG
Conference dinner

Friday, September 23

8:30-9:00        Holywell Park Conference Centre
Coffee and refreshments

9:00-10:30      Brunel / Murdoch room
Panel 5A: Audience perspectives on media and politics
Chair: Eran Amsalem (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

What in The World Is Newsworthiness? Evaluations of News Interest and Informativeness by International Audiences
Lilach Nir (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Stuart Soroka (University of California Los Angeles), Patrick Fournier (Université de Montréal)

Examining Urban/Rural Gaps in Trust in News across Four Countries
Nick Mathews (University of Minnesota) Benjamin Toff (University of Oxford, University of Minnesota), Camila Mont’Alverne (University of Oxford), Sumitra Badrinathan (University of Oxford), Amy Ross Arguedas (University of Oxford), Richard Fletcher (University of Oxford), Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (University of Oxford)

Mediated polarisation: An intergenerational analysis
Ssu-Han Yu (London School of Economics and Political Science) * presenting remotely

9:00-10:30      Pascal room
Panel 5B: Media, politics, and the fight for social justice
Chair: Doron Shultziner (Hadassah Academic College)

Cross-national patterns in the protest paradigm: An analysis of Black Lives Matter protests across Europe
A. Maurits van der Veen (College of William & Mary) *presenting remotely

Repertoire of Contention in Authoritarian China: Framings, Contentious Performances and Culture
Xijing Wu (University of Oxford) *presenting remotely

Australian and American unions’ storytelling about essential workers during the pandemic
Ariadne Vromen (Australian National University), Michael Vaughan (Frei Universitet), Filippo Trevisan (American University)

10:30 – 11:00  Holywell Park Conference Centre
Coffee break

11:00-12:30    Brunel / Murdoch room
Panel 6A: Challenges and opportunities in computational research on media and politics
Chair: Diyi Liu ( University of Oxford)

Beyond Mere “Toxicity”: A Multi-label Classifier for Uncivil and Intolerant Discourse on Twitter
Patrícia Rossini (University of Glasgow), Stefanie Hills (University of Stirling), Federico Bianchi (Stanford University), Sarah Shuggars (George Washington University), Dirk Hovy (Bocconi University), Rebekah Tromble (George Washington University)

A problematisation of research with citizen-produced political text: Inequalities in access, ethics, languages and resources
Amanda Haraldsson (Audencia Business School), Shota Gelovani (Technical University of Munich), Bente Kalsnes (Kristiania University College), Karolina Koc-Michalska (Audencia Business School), Yannis Theocharis (Technical University of Munich)

Characterizing Registered U.S. Voters’ Exposure to Political Content on Twitter
Assaf Shamir (Ben-Gurion University), Jennifer Oser (Ben-Gurion University), Nir Grinberg (Ben-Gurion University)

11:00-12:30    Pascal room
Panel 6B: Media and politics in and about contemporary Russia
Chair: Václav Štětka (Loughborough University)

Reviving Eternal Russia: U.S. Media Representations of Democracy and Human Rights in Post-Soviet Russia
Heather L. Tafel /Grand Valley State University)

‘State narrative’ construction on Twitter. A case study around news stories on LGTBQ in Russia
Daria Dergacheva (University of Bremen), Anna Tous-Rovirosa (Autonomous University of Barcelona) *presenting remotely

12:30-13:30    Holywell Park Conference Centre

13:30-15:00    Brunel / Murdoch room
Panel 7A: Political advertising in contemporary media systems
Chair: Jakob Ohme (Freie Universität Berlin)

Political Advertising on Facebook India: Punjab and Uttar Pradesh 2022 Assembly Elections
Holli A. Semetko (Emory University), Kiran Arabaghatta Basavaraj (University of Exeter), Anup Kumar (Cleveland State University)

Is there a permanent campaign for online political advertising?: Investigating partisan and non-party campaign activity in the UK between 2018-2021
Junyan Zhu (University of Sheffield), Kate Dommett (University of Sheffield), Tom Stafford (University of Sheffield), Nikolaos Aletras (University of Sheffield), Samuel Mensah (University of Sheffield)

New Political Actors in the Electoral Process: Japan’s Election Management Boards Online
Leslie Tkach-Kawasaki (University of Tsukuba)

13:30-15:00    Pascal room
Panel 7B: Patterns and consequences of political incivility
Chair: Lilach Nir (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Online participation and the role of incivility in the context of an illiberal public sphere
Sabina Mihelj (Loughborough University), Václav Štětka (Loughborough University)

Candidate Incivility and Affective Polarization in Comparative Perspective
Chiara Vargiu (University of Lausanne), Diego Garzia (University of Lausanne), Frederico Ferreira da Silva (University of Lausanne) * presenting remotely

Cross-cutting disagreement in opposition online community within non-democratic context: the case of Alexei Navalny’s YouTube channel
Aidar Zinnatullin (University of Bologna) *presenting remotely

15:00 – 15:30  Holywell Park Conference Centre
Coffee break

15:30-17:00    Brunel / Murdoch room
Panel 8A: New perspectives on media effects
Chair: Holli A. Semetko (Emory University)

Do People Learn About Politics on Social Media? A Meta-Analysis of Seventy-Six Studies
Eran Amsalem (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Alon Zoizner (University of Haifa)

Reinterpreting the Relationship between News and the “Most Important Problem”
Benjamin Toff (University of Oxford, University of Minnesota), Ruth Palmer (IE University)

News Media’s Coverage of the 2021 Global Climate Summit and its Effects on Public Opinion
Per Oleskog Tryggvason (University of Gothenburg), Adam Shehata (University of Gothenburg) *presenting remotely

15:30-17:00    Pascal room
Panels 8B: Political behavior on social media
Chair: Junyan Zhu (University of Sheffield)

Voice and deliberation in partisan Twitter-spheres
Albert Padró-Solanet (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), Joan Balcells (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), Rosa Borge (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

Abortion war is not a war: Who is driving incivility and intolerance in abortion discourse in the United States (2020) and Ireland (2018)?
Dayei Oh (Loughborough University and University of Helsinki), Suzanne Elayan (Loughborough University), Martin Sykora (Loughborough University)

Spectating in the public sphere: investigating political lurking practices among young adult social media users
Elizabeth Solverson (Nord University) ** Cancelled

17:00-17:30    Stephenson room
Concluding remarks

17:30-19:30    Holywell Park Conference Centre
Farewell reception

New Publication: How Do Voters Respond to Journalists Who Run for Office?

Across most of the Western world, the dominant norms around journalism entail what the authors of the Worlds of Journalism Study defined as “monitorial journalistic cultures“, where journalists are seen as checks on other powers and must therefore remain independent from them. Yet, sometimes journalists legitimately decide to venture into politics, either as advisors or as full-fledged candidates and officeholders. (The current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a former journalist.) What happens, then, when journalists straddle the boundaries of these norms and seek to become politicians themselves? How do voters respond to the fact that some members of a professional group that is supposed to hold politicians accountable are coopted by politicians?

In a new article published open-access in the International Journal of Communication I set out to shed some light on these issues based on an experiment embedded in the pre-electoral survey of the Italian National Election Studies, of which I am honored to be a member, in the run-up to the 2018 Italian general election. I started with two theoretical premises. First, journalist-candidates should increase levels of populist attitudes, as the populist mentality denies the separation of society into different groups (what Ernesto Laclau has termed the “logic of equivalence“) and populist politicians routinely lambast the media as out-of-touch elites in cahoots with political elites. Secondly, I reasoned that high-profile journalists may be strong candidates due to their popularity and communication skills, and may thus result in a higher probability to vote for the parties that recruit them.

To test these hypotheses, I designed an experiment whereby participants were randomly assigned to seeing different types of information on parliamentary candidates, some of which reported accurate information on high-profile former journalists who were running for the three major parties at the time: center-right Forza Italia, center-left Partito Democratico, and populist MoVimento 5 Stelle. Participants in the control group were simply asked if they knew who the candidates were in their constituency.

I then asked participants questions that measure their levels of populism and their probability to vote for the three parties that were fielding journalist-candidates. I measured populist attitudes by asking participants how much they agree with three statements: “Politicians in Parliament must follow the will of the people”; “I would rather be represented by an ordinary person than by a career politician“; and “Journalists are too close to powerful groups to inform ordinary people.” I measured probability to vote with a standard question that asks respondents to rank their likelihood to vote for a party from 0 to 10.

Because participants had been effectively randomly assigned to seeing different types of information on (journalist-)candidates, differences in participants’ responses can be attributed to the effects of the different information they saw before they answered those questions.

The results suggest that when people are told that some journalists are running for office, they become more likely to endorse populist attitudes, as you can see below.. Interestingly, however, people did not become more likely to vote for the parties that were fielding the journalist-candidates they had just learned about.

These results suggest that journalist-candidates do not directly enhance the electoral prospects of the parties that recruit them, but they weaken democratic legitimacy by performing what I call “populism vindicated by the media“, which results from media representatives’ conducts that may be seen as validating populist claims. On a more optimistic note, citizens’ negative reactions to journalist-candidates suggest that they value the role of the media as an independent Fourth Estate and as a check on elected officials.

On a personal note, this has been a fascinating journey. Growing up in Italy, where the revolving doors between journalism and politics seem to be constantly spinning, I often wondered whether this kind of close integration led citizens to lose faith in journalists’ professionalism and politicians’ accountability. I was very grateful to be able to include this experiment in the 2018 general election survey of Italian National Election Studies, which gave me the opportunity to empirically test those intuitions. This study went through many different iterations (and yes, journal rejections!) and I am very happy it has now seen the light. I hope you enjoy the article and look forward to your comments.

Council of Europe recommendation on the impacts of digital technologies on freedom of expression now adopted by 46 member States

More than two years ago, I had the honor of being selected as one of the 13 members of a new Council of Europe expert committee on Freedom of Expression and Digital Technologies (MSI-DIG). The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organization and brings together 46 member States, including all members of the European Union and the United Kingdom. Al members are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights, whose principles are implemented by the European Court of Human Rights..

Between 2020 and 2021, all members of the MSI-DIG committee worked very closely and benefited enormously from the input of member States and civil society stakeholders, as well as the competent and steady support of the Secretariat, to produce two key documents:

I had the pleasure and honor to serve as Co-Rapporteur, together with the fantastic Alexandra Borchardt, for the drafting of Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)13, which on the 6th of April 2022 has been adopted by the Committee of Ministers. Natali Helberger and Viktors Makarovs were invaluable as Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Committee. The Council of Europe’s Elena Dodonova and, before her, Charlotte Altenhoener-Dion, were invaluable in helping us navigate both organizational and substantive issues.

The document aims to clarify how States and other stakeholders, including internet intermediaries, can fulfill their human rights obligations and responsibilities with regard to freedom of expression, combining legal, regulatory, administrative and practical measures. It is divided into six sections:

  1. Foundations for human rights-enhancing rule-making
  2. Digital infrastructure design
  3. Transparency
  4. Accountability and redress
  5. Education and empowerment
  6. Independent research for evidence-based rule-making

I hope this document will be useful to policymakers and regulators, private companies, and civil society actors as we all grapple with the difficult choices and trade-offs that the contemporary digital media environment entails for the preservation of human rights. Our Northern star throughout the writing of this document has always been Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is always worth reading in full:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Last week, I had the pleasure of discussing the Recommendation at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Global Conference 2022, held in hybrid format in Punta Del Este (Uruguay). I participated in a panel titled “Freedom of Expression during Conflicts – Curbing of war propaganda/disinformation vs. access to information on internet platforms”. The panel also featured Guy Berger (UNESCO),Eliska Pirkova (Access Now), and Ambassador Thomas Schneider (Swiss Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication).

New open-access article on “Partisan Blocking” published in the Journal of Communication

The Journal of Communication has just published a new article led by Johannes Kaiser (a brilliant colleague who was a post-doc at the Online Civic Culture Centre at Loughborough University with funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation), Andrew Chadwick, and myself. The article is published open access, which means everyone can freely read and download it.

In this study, based on two experiments on representative sample of social media users in Germany, we investigate how people use the “block” and “unfollow” (or “unfriend”) function on social media against their friends who report misinformation. In particular, we ask whether users use these functions differently depending on whether the friend who reports misinformation has similar or different political views to their own.

We find that, indeed, users are substantially and significantly more likely to block their friends who share misinformation if those friends have different political views to their own. We argue that these patterns, in turn, have important implications for network polarization, i.e., the degree to which the other users with whom we are in contact on social media tend to cluster based on political preferences. By disproportionately cleaning up their social media feeds from disagreeing friends who share misinformation, users may end up reducing the diversity of the content they encounter, whether accurate or not. As we argue in the conclusion:

Partisan blocking derives from a confluence of other users’ norm violations and popular social media affordances originally introduced to grant people greater control over their online experiences. Even when used by citizens to protect themselves from misinformation shared by their online friends, blocking and unfriending can end up disproportionately severing ties to politically dissimilar others. At the same time, because politically similar friends who share inaccurate content are less likely to be blocked, partisan blocking does little to solve the problem of users who continue to push misinformation to their like-minded online friends.

I also had the pleasure to speak about our research with Shraddha Chakradhar from the Nieman Lab, who wrote an excellent article that illustrates the results of our research. The final quote from the article nicely summarizes one of the key implications of our work:

“I think that probably the most important takeaway is that there are some drawbacks to the widespread assumption that one of the best ways to protect people against disinformation is to give users tools that enable them to limit contact with other people who share misinformation,” Vaccari told me. “If people applied those tools in a politically neutral way, then there would be no problem with that argument. But the problem, as this study shows, is that people apply those blocking and unfollowing tools in a way that is partisan.”

Full citation: Johannes Kaiser, Cristian Vaccari, Andrew Chadwick, Partisan Blocking: Biased Responses to Shared Misinformation Contribute to Network Polarization on Social Media, Journal of Communication, Volume 72, Issue 2, April 2022, Pages 214–240,

Call for papers for the 8th annual conference of The International Journal of Press/Politics (Loughborough University, UK, 22-23 September 2022)


Call for papers
8th Annual Conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics
Loughborough University, UK, 22-23 September 2022
Deadline for abstracts: 23 May 2022

On 22-23 September 2022, the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University will host the 8th annual conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics, focused on academic research on the relationship between media and political processes around the world. Professor Maria Repnikova (Georgia State University) will deliver a keynote speech.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 23 May 2022. Attendees will be notified of acceptance by 6 June 2022. Registration fees will be due 8 July 2022 and full papers based on accepted abstracts will be due 8 September 2022. A selection of the best full papers presented at the conference will be published in the journal after peer review. Previous journal special issues based on conference papers can be found here and here.

The conference brings together scholars conducting internationally oriented or comparative research on the intersection between news media and politics around the world. It aims to provide a forum for academics from a wide range of disciplines, countries, and methodological approaches to advance knowledge in this area.

Examples of relevant topics include, but are not limited to, the political implications of changes in media systems; the importance of different types of media for learning about and engaging with politics; the factors affecting the quality of political information and public discourse; media policy and regulation; the role of entertainment and popular culture in how people engage with current affairs; relations between political actors and journalists; the role of visuals and emotion in the production and processing of public information; the role of different kinds of media during conflicts and crises; and political communication during and beyond elections by government, political parties, interest groups, and social movements. The journal and the conference are particular interested in studies that adopt comparative approaches, represent substantial theoretical or methodological advances, or focus on parts of the world that are under-researched in the international English language academic literature.

Titles and abstracts for papers (maximum 300 words) are invited by 23 May 2022. The abstract should clearly describe the key question, the theoretical and methodological approach, the evidence presented, and the wider implications of the study for understanding the relationship between media and politics. Authors are encouraged to provide as much detail as possible about the spatial and temporal context of their study, the research design employed, the data collected, and the main results of the analyses.

Please send submissions via the online form available at

The registration fee for the conference will be GBP 250, to be paid by 8 July 2022. The fee covers lunches and coffee breaks on 22 and 23 September, two conference dinners on 21 and 22 September, and farewell drinks on 23 September. A limited number of registration fee waivers will be available for early career scholars and scholars from countries that appear in Tiers B and C of the classification adopted by the International Communication Association. Applications must be made by 23 May 2022 via the abstract online submission form available at

All attendees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend the conference and respect the UK Government and Loughborough University policies to protect themselves and the population against COVID-19. Attendees visiting Loughborough from abroad must commit to follow the UK Government’s regulations to travel to England.

The conference is organized by Cristian Vaccari (Editor-in-Chief of IJPPand Director of CRCC). Please contact Professor Vaccari with questions at

More about the journal, the University, and the Centre.

ijpp cover

The International Journal of Press/Politics is an interdisciplinary journal for the analysis and discussion of the role of the media and politics in a globalized world. The journal publishes theoretical and empirical research which analyzes the linkages between the news media and political processes and actors around the world, emphasizes international and comparative work, and links research in the fields of political communication and journalism studies, and the disciplines of political science and media and communication. The journal is published by SAGE Publications and is ranked 7th in Communication and 9th in Political Science by Journal Citation Reports.

Professor Maria Repnikova is an expert on Chinese political communication, and an Associate Professor in Global Communication at Georgia State University. She has written widely on China’s media politics, including propaganda, critical journalism, digital nationalism and soft power. Dr. Repnikova is the author of the award-winning book, Media Politics in China: Improvising Power Under Authoritarianism (Cambridge 2017), as well as the recent, Chinese Soft Power (Cambridge Global China Element Series). Her public writings have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Atlantic, amongst other publications. Other than working on China, Repnikova does comparative work on information politics in China and Russia. Most recently, she has been researching and completing a monograph on Chinese soft power in Africa, with a focus on Ethiopia. Dr. Repnikova holds a doctorate in politics from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar. In the past, she was a Wilson Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center (2020-2021), a visiting fellow at the African Studies Center at Beijing University (2019), and a post-doctoral fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication (2014-2016), amongst other positions.


Based on a 440-acre, single-site campus at the heart of the UK, Loughborough University is ranked top 10 in every British university league table. Voted University of the Year (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019) and awarded Gold in the National Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), Loughborough provides a unique student experience. Loughborough University has excellent transport links to the rest of the UK. It is a short distance away from Loughborough Train station, a 15-minute drive from East Midlands Airport (near Nottingham), an hour drive from Birmingham Airport, and an hour and 15 minutes from London via train.

Since its establishment in 1991, the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture has developed into the largest research center of its kind in the UK. The Centre is proudly interdisciplinary, combining social science and humanities approaches for the rigorous exploration of the production and consumption of different forms of communication and creative texts. CRCC’s research draws on and contributes to theories and methods in cultural and media studies, sociology, politics, psychology, history and memory studies, textual, visual and computational analysis, and geography. The Centre promotes research that explores how media and cultural texts are produced, how they construct meanings, how they shape societies, and how they fit within an ever-growing creative economy.

Video of my talk at the Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group seminar

I gave a talk as part of the seminar series of the Media and Politics Group of the UK Political Studies Association. I will briefly presented our recently published book Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies, coauthored with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna) and edited by Oxford University Press as part of the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series.

Unlike in previous book presentations, I started by offering a brief overview of our arguments, followed by extensive discussion, competently chaired by Dr James Dennis. I am very grateful to the PSA MPG for the invitation and to all those who attended for their insightful contributions. The recording of the seminar is now available online.

Speaking at the Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group seminar – 12 Jan 22, 4-5pm GMT

Next week, I will be honored to participate in the seminar series of the Media and Politics Group of the UK Political Studies Association. In my talk, I will briefly present  our recently published book Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies, coauthored with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna) and edited by Oxford University Press as part of the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series.

The event is free for anyone who register and will take place on Zoom on 12 January 2022, from 4-5pm GMT. You can register for free here.

Unlike in previous book presentations, I will provide a brief overview of our arguments and most of the event will be dedicated to questions from participants. I very much look forward to discussing our work with anyone who will intervene and with Dr James Dennis, who will serve as chair.

Video of my Presentation of “Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies”

Last week, I was honored to give a talk at the Center for the Study of Democratic Citizenship, which brings together six leading universities in Quebec (Concordia University, McGill University, Université Laval, Université de Montréal (UdeM), Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and Université TÉLUQ).

In my talk, I presented the main arguments and findings from our newly published book”Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies“, coauthored with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna) and edited by Oxford University Press as part of the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series.

The full video of the recording of the event is now available on YouTube. I hope you find it interesting. Many thanks to CSDC and in particular to its director, Professor Frédérick Bastien, not only for the invitation but for a very kind introduction.

Videos of the 2021 International Journal of Press/Politics Virtual Conference (13-16 September 2021)

I am delighted to share the video recordings of the 2021 conference of The International Journal of Press/Politics. A playlist that contains all the videos can be accessed here.

Day 1 – 13 September 2021

Welcome and Opening remarks 
Cristian Vaccari (Loughborough University), Editor-in-Chief of IJPP

12:35-1:50pm News and the Pandemic
Chair: Alexandra Segerberg (Uppsala University)

The Psychological Empowerment of Solutions Journalism: Perspectives from Pandemic News Users in the UK
Xin Zhao (Bournemouth University), Daniel Jackson (Bournemouth University), An Nguyen (Bournemouth University), Antje Glück (Bournemouth University)

Framing migration during the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa: a 12-month media monitoring project
Thea de Gruchy (University of the Witwatersrand), Thulie Zikhali (University of the Witwatersrand), Jo Vearey (University of the Witwatersrand), Johanna Hanefeld (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

YouTube as a source of information about unproven drugs for Covid-19: The role of the mainstream media and recommendation algorithms in promoting misinformation
Felipe Bonow Soares (UFPEL/UFRGS), Igor Salgueiro (UFPEL), Carolina Bonoto (UFRGS), Otávio Vinhas (University College Dublin)

Media and Politics around the World
Chair: Edda Humprecht (University of Zurich)

The public performance of ANC political demagoguery: The case of Jacob Zuma’s ‘Arms Deal’ court appearances
Lefa Afrika (University of Cape Town)

Populism Influence on Media Content: Polarization and Professionalization in Ecuador before and during Correa’s era
Manel Palos Pons (University of California, San Diego)

Risks of COVID-19 reporting in (semi-)authoritarian states: Perceived pressures on journalists in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
Svetlana S. Bodrunova (St. Petersburg State University), Nikita Argylov, (Far Eastern Federal University), Aliaksandr Hradziushka (Belarusian State University), Galiya Ibrayeva, (Al-Farabi Kazakh National University)

New Perspectives on Misinformation and Disinformation
Chair: C.W. Anderson (University of Leeds, Associate Editor of IJPP)

Misinformation and Trust in Institutions in Four Countries in 2019 and 2021
Shelley Boulianne (MacEwan University), Edda Humprecht (University of Zurich)

Social media and political misinformation in the 2021 Mexico elections: Maximal panic, minimal effects
Sebastián Valenzuela (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Marcelo Santos (Universidad Finis Terrae), Carlos Muñiz (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León)

Marking the boundaries between visual and textual disinformation in a digital world: A literature synthesis and research agenda
Teresa Elena Weikmann (University of Vienna), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna)

Setting the agenda through misinformation: Analyzing the vote-by-mail coverage during the 2020 US elections
Jonas Kaiser (Suffolk University), Carolyn Schmitt (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Kathryn Stapleton (Suffolk University)

Day 2 – 14 September 2021

Hearing or Ignoring the other side: Causes and Consequences
Chair: Jason Reifler (University of Exeter)

Why read news from the other side? How people’s selection and avoidance of news articles on social media increases polarization
Jakob Boggild (European University Institute)

Selective Exposure and New Political Cleavages: Political Media Use and Ideological Reinforcement Over Time
Adam Shehata (University of Gothenburg), Mats Ekström (University of Gothenburg), Per Oleskog-Tryggvasson (University of Gothenburg)

Curating political animosity? The relation of algorithmic news curation to ideological extremity and social and political intolerance
Linda Bos (University of Amsterdam), Jakob Ohme (University of Amsterdam), Artemis Tsoulos-Malakoudi (University of Amsterdam)

Debating the Normative Foundations of the News
Chair: Thea de Gruchy (University of the Witwatersrand)

“Fair and balanced”: What news audiences in four countries mean when they say they prefer impartial news
Camila Mont’Alverne (University of Oxford), Sumitra Badrinathan (University of Oxford), Amy Ross Arguedas (University of Oxford), Benjamin Toff (University of Oxford), Richard Fletcher (University of Oxford), Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (University of Oxford)

Fake News and Value Pluralism: A Liberal Response to Post-Truth Politics
Nick Anstead (London School of Economics)

“Polite Watchdog”: Kompas and Watchdog Journalism in the Post Authoritarian Indonesia
Wijayanto (Universitas Diponegoro)

Social Media and Politics
Chair: Duncan McCargo (University of Copenhagen)

(In)Civility of Campaign Videos and User Comments in Facebook: Affective Polarization and Mobilization
Taberez Ahmed Neyazi (National University of Singapore), Ozan Kuru (National University of Singapore), Subhayan Mukerjee (National University of Singapore)

The role of Facebook influencers in shaping the narratives of the Rodrigo Duterte era
Renee Karunungan (Loughborough University)

Politicians and journalists – interactive communication in social media?
Kinga Adamczewska (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)

Communicating Covid-19
Chair: David Smith (University of Leicester, Managing Editor of IJPP)

Pandemic Nationalism: How Exposure to Government Social Media Affects People’s Belief in COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories in China
Anfan Chen (University of Science and Technology of China), Yingdan Lu (Stanford University), Kaiping Chen (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Aaron Ng (National University of Singapore)

Understanding the Agenda of Alternative and Online Political Media Post-Corbyn and through the Covid-19 Pandemic
Declan McDowell-Naylor (Cardiff University), Stephen Cushion (Cardiff University), Richard Thomas (Swansea University)

The role of political partisanship for the relationship between trust in the news and trust in the government as sources for coronavirus information: Findings from two cross-sectional online survey studies in six countries
Anne Schulz (University of Zurich), Richard Fletcher (University of Oxford), Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (University of Oxford)

Day 3 – 15 September 2021

Media Policy between Old and New Challenges
Chair: Joyce Y.M. Nip (University of Sydney)

Content Moderation in the Digital Democracy: What’s the Problem?
Nahema Marchal (University of Zurich), Fabrizio Gilardi (University of Zurich), Emma Hoes (University of Zurich), Jonathan Kluser (University of Zurich), Meysam Alizadeh (University of Zurich), Mael Kubli (University of Zurich)

Funding Democracy: Public Media and Democratic Health in 33 Countries
Timothy Neff (University of Pennsylvania), Victor Pickard (University of Pennsylvania)

Good Journalism or Good Business? The politics of press support and news production in Taiwan
Hsiao-wen Lee (SOAS, University of London)

International Perspectives on Social Media and Political Communication
Chair: Danielle K. Brown (University of Minnesota, incoming Associate Editor of IJPP)

Exploring Digital Campaign Competence: The Role of Voter Knowledge on Data-Driven Election Campaigns
Sophie Minihold (University of Vienna and University of Amsterdam), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna), Claes de Vreese (University of Amsterdam), Sanne Kruikemeier (University of Amsterdam)

The gendered use of social media among political candidates in transition contexts: evidence from Tunisia
Malin Holm (Uppsala University), Yasmine Naila Skhiri (Uppsala University), Pär Zetterberg (Uppsala University)

Pandemic Politics: Microtargeting Strategies on Facebook India
Kiran Arabaghatta Basavaraj (University of Exeter), Holli A. Semetko (Emory University), Anup Kumar (Cleveland State University)

Digital Media and Politics: Dynamics and Influences
Chair: Shelley Boulianne (MacEwan University)

Incumbency, corruption, and the politics of online content regulation
Kyong Mazzaro (City University of New York)

Trolling with the Punches: How Journalists Navigate Online Harassment
Elizabeth Dubois (University of Ottawa), Chris Tenove (University of British Columbia), Sabrina Wilkinson (University of Ottawa), Trevor Deley (University of Ottawa) 

News We Can Use: Local news and civic engagement in neighbourhood chat groups online
Laszlo Horvath (Birkbeck, University of London), Joshua Blamire (University of Exeter)

Day 4 – 16 September 2021

Understanding Patterns of News Consumption, Avoidance, and Sharing
Chair: Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna, Associate Editor of IJPP)

I Do Not (Want to) Know! An Empirical Investigation of the Relationship Between Unintentional and Intentional News Avoidance and Their Predictors
Dominika Betakova (University of Vienna), Hajo Boomgaarden (University of Vienna), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna), Svenja Schäfer (University of Vienna), Loes Aaldering (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Neither absent nor ambient: A more holistic view of incidental exposure to news in the digital age
Ruth Palmer (IE University), Benjamin Toff (University of Minnesota and University of Oxford)

To convince, to provoke or to entertain? A study on individual motivations behind online misinformation sharing in six Western democracies
Sophie Morosoli (University of Antwerp), Peter Van Aelst (University of Antwerp), Patrick van Erkel (University of Antwerp)

Contentious Politics and Information Flows
Chair: Taberez Ahmed Neyazi (National University of Singapore)

Now is the time to protest: the eternal sunshine of a spotless polity
Ricardo Fabrino Mendonça (UFMG/INCT.DD), Nina Santos (INCT.DD)

Conventional vs. Contentious: Exploring the relationship between participation in the social movement and voting intention in Hong Kong
Pei Zhi (City University of Hong Kong)

Tale of Two Internets: How Information Flows from the US to Chinese Social Media
Yingdan Lu (Stanford University), Jack Schaefer (University of California Los Angeles), Jungseock Joo (University of California Los Angeles), Kunwoo Park (Soongsil University), Jennifer Pan (Stanford University)

Perspectives on Media Effects
Chair: Laszlo Horvath (Birkbeck, University of London)

The Other 98%: Exposure to and Effects of Political Content Beyond News: Evidence from browsing data in three countries
Magdalena Wojcieszak (University of California Davis and University of Amsterdam), Sjifra de Leeuw (University of Amsterdam), Bernhard Clemm (University of Amsterdam), Ericka Menchen-Trevino (American University)

Does corruption corrupt? The behavioral effects of mediated exposure to corruption
Israel Waismel-Manor (University of Haifa), Patricia Moy (University of Washington), Rico Neumann (University of Washington), Moran Shechnick (University of Haifa)

Does Identity Matter? Ethnicity, Religion and Effects of Negative Campaigning on the Perception of Candidates
Kelechi Amakoh (University of Amsterdam)

Digital Innovation in News: Challenges and Strategies
Chair: Declan McDowell-Naylor (Cardiff University)

The creation of algorithmic publics in authoritarian regimes: Explaining digital innovation uptake in Russian news media
Olga Dovbysh (University of Helsinki), Mariëlle Wijermars (Maastricht University and University of Helsinki)

Does political position matter? Affective engagement strategies of news providers on Facebook in post-handover Hong Kong
Joyce Y.M. Nip (University of Sydney), Benoit Berthelier (University of Sydney)

Uneasy Bedfellows: AI in the News, Platform Companies and the Issue of Journalistic Autonomy 
Felix M. Simon (University of Oxford and Columbia University)

Conclusions and farewell 
Cristian Vaccari (Loughborough University), Editor-in-Chief of IJPP