Awarded the Best Paper Award by the Information Technology & Politics section of APSA


I am on my way back from the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, where I served as program chair for the Information Technology & Politics section and presented research on the effects of deepfakes that I am conducting with my colleague at Loughborough Andy Chadwick.

At the business meeting of the ITP section, I was honored to receive the award for the best paper presented at the previous edition of APSA. The committee (Shelley Boulianne, Jennifer Oser, and Cornelius Puschmann) chose to award the paper “Digital Political Talk and Political Participation: Comparing Established and Third Wave Democracies” that I coauthored with Augusto Valeriani. The abstract of the paper is below and the main findings are summarized in this post. The paper is now an open access article available on SAGE Open.

We investigate whether and how informal political talk on digital media contributes to citizens’ political participation with unique surveys based on samples representative of Internet users in seven Western democracies. We show that political talk on both social networking sites and mobile instant messaging platforms is positively associated with institutional and extra-institutional political participation. However, the relationship between talk on social networking sites and both types of participation is significantly stronger in established democracies (Denmark, France, United Kingdom, and United States) than in “third wave” democracies (Greece, Poland, and Spain). By contrast, the strength of the relationship between political talk on mobile instant messaging platforms and participation is not significantly different when comparing established and more recent democracies. These findings suggest that informal political talk on digital platforms can contribute to citizens’ participatory repertoires and that different institutional settings, in combination with different technological affordances, play an important role in shaping these patterns.

As is often the case, Augusto and I were fortunate to benefit from feedback, support, and inspiration from many colleagues in writing this paper. I first presented it at a meeting of SMaPP Global in New York and received invaluable feedback, among others by Yannis Theocharis who greatly helped us advance and clarify the way in which we theorized the role of political institutions and social trust. The paper is part of a whole special collection from SMaPP Global colleagues, which is all open access and definitely worth checking out.

I look forward to serving in next year’s award committee, as well as Chair of the whole ITP section.


Attending APSA as program chair of the Information Technology & Politics section

logoI first attended the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, the largest gathering of political scientists worldwide, in Chicago in 2004. Since then, attending this conference has become an integral part of my academic work and the occasion to strike and renew many amazing friendships and collaborations.

Every APSA meeting has been special and exciting, but this year’s is unique because for this first time I will not only participate by discussing my research and that of my colleagues. I have also played a small part in organizing the conference by serving as program chair of the Information Technology and Politics section. I reviewed proposals, accepted some and rejected many, drafted panels (no manels!), and worked with our older sister, the Political Communication section, to co-sponsor panels.

Here is the agenda for this year’s conference. If you are interested in digital media and politics and if you want to meet friendly, smart, and truly global colleagues, you will find all of that and more in these panels. And if you have never engaged with the section, please come say hi at the business meeting and join us at our joint reception with Political Communication.

Thursday, August 29
8:00 to 9:30am: “Commenting and Discussing Politics Online”
10:00 to 11:30am: “New Directions on Internet Government and Governance”
12:00 to 1:30pm: “New Perspectives on the Study of Information Technology and Politics”
2:00 to 3:30pm: “Political Effects of Digital Media” (co-sponsored with Political Communication)
4:00 to 5:30pm: “Incivility and Being Mad Online” (co-sponsored with Political Communication)

Friday, August 30
8:00 to 9:30am: “Communicating Politics Online” (co-sponsored with Political Communication)
10:00 to 11:30am: “Comparative Perspectives on Information Technology and Politics”
10:30 to 11:00am: “Poster Session: Information Technology and Politics”
12:00 to 1:30pm: “Online Disinformation: Actors, Platforms, and Users” (co-sponsored with Political Communication)
2:00 to 3:30pm: “Digital Authoritarianism and the Public Sphere”
4:00 to 5:30pm: “News in the Digital Age”
7:30 to 9:00pm: Joint reception of the Political Communication and Information Technology & Politics sections

Saturday, August 31
8:00 to 9:30am: “Diverse India 2019: Populism, Campaigning & Influence”
12:00 to 1:30pm: “Social Media and American Politics”
4:00 to 5:30pm: “Social Media and Influence: Comparing Elections, Policy and Trump” (co-sponsored with Political Communication)
4:00 to 5:30pm: “Visual Frontiers in Digital Politics” (co-sponsored with Political Communication, featuring among others a papery by yours truly and Andrew Chadwick on political deepfakes)
6:30 to 7:30pm: Business meeting of the Information Technology & Politics section

Sunday, September 1
8:00 to 9:30am: “Digital Media, Contestation and Repression”

See you all in DC!


Call for Papers for a Special Issue of The International Journal of Press/Politics: “Visual Politics”


Call for Papers for a Special Issue of The International Journal of Press/Politics

“Visual Politics”

Guest editors: Erik Bucy (, Texas Tech University
Jungseock Joo (, University of California at Los Angeles

Manuscript submission deadline: 15 December 2019

Images are both ubiquitous and consequential in contemporary politics. The rise of images in politics parallels the rise of images in society as icons of socio-political messaging, vessels of persuasive intent, and efficient carriers of social information for citizens of increasingly harried societies. From television coverage of campaigns and elections to visual memes and images of leaders circulated on social media, visual portrayals shape perceptions of the political world. When used strategically, visual portrayals hold the capacity to frame issues, candidates, and causes in a particular light and affect the acceptance or rejection of social policies. As representations of public opinion and leadership, political images influence issue understanding and motivate citizens to action.

Political visuals are potent in part because they do not require conventional literacy to apprehend and operate at both an individual and cultural level. From an information processing perspective, political images are highly efficient carriers of social and symbolic information that is quickly assessed, rapidly judged, and readily remembered. In news coverage, candidate portrayals and event depictions may crystallize sentiment among the viewing public and alternately inspire increased involvement or disenchantment with politics. Culturally, images can act as icons of social solidarity or political isolation, serving to mainstream or marginalize individuals, groups, and causes. The polysemic quality of images opens them to diverse interpretation, depending on the viewer’s orientation.

As forms of information, political images are not only open to interpretation but are also susceptible to digital manipulation. Image shading, facial blending, digital editing, and other alterations of political materials can have persuasive effects on audiences, raising troubling ethical concerns. More recently, the mass spread of “deepfakes”, i.e., manipulated video recordings, threatens to undermine the authenticity of recorded candidate communication and further confuse unsuspecting viewers, already buffeted by fabricated visual memes and text-based disinformation campaigns.

These and related considerations make the systematic study of political visuals and their effects necessary and urgent. Despite renewed interest in visual analysis within political communication, images remain an understudied feature of the contemporary political media landscape. This special issue of The International Journal of Press/Politics therefore invites original research conducted in any methodological tradition that fits the theme of “Visual Politics.” In this special issue, we hope to highlight new possibilities for theory development, methodological innovation, and cross-national approaches to advance the study of visual political communication.


Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The influence of political images in digital campaigns, including comparisons between online messaging, social media strategies, and more traditional forms of political advertising
  • The role of visual messaging in disinformation efforts, whether used to confuse, incite resentment, or demotivate potential voter or citizen involvement
  • Computational analysis of large-scale visual datasets to detect patterns of coverage or behavior not evident in smaller, hand-coded projects
  • Integrated or comparative analysis of multimodal cues in political messages and their synergistic or differential impacts on viewer perceptions
  • Visual analysis of protest and collection action, including visual framing of activism or demonstrations as well as visual memes circulated on social media
  • Cross-national comparisons of visual news framing of politics or protest and its reception by audiences
  • Viewer reception of newer visual technologies such as 360-degree video cameras to depict campaign events, demonstrations, marches, or other collective actions
  • Visual depictions of populist and fringe political actors, including signature gestures and nonverbal displays, expressive range, or performative repertoires
  • Effects of nonverbal aggression, norm violations, and other transgressive candidate behavior on viewers of political programming
  • Visual measures of negative advertising, incivility, “in your face”-style of candidate interaction, or other normatively fraught political communication styles
  • Visual analysis of hate speech and white nationalism, including identifiable signs and symbols as identified by the Anti-Defamation League and other watchdogs
  • The role of viewer orientations (e.g., ideology, partisanship, political interest, age cohort, moral outlook, geographical situatedness, issue attitudes) in shaping political image interpretations and message efficacy
  • The role of visual content in explaining patterns of news sharing on social media
  • The use of visuals in emerging genres of political campaign communication, whether mini-documentaries, mash-up advertising, candidate-generated videos, or political selfies.


Manuscript submissions for this special issue are due on 15 December 2019.
Please submit your work through our online submission portal and ensure that the first line of the cover letter states: “Manuscript to be considered for the special issue on Visual Politics”. Manuscripts should follow the IJPP submission guidelines. Submissions will be subject to a double-blind peer review process and must not have been published, accepted for publication, or under consideration for publication elsewhere.

Please note that, to ensure consistency, submissions will only be considered for peer review after the 15 December 2019 deadline has passed.

Authors interested in submitting their work are encouraged to contact the guest editors, Erik Bucy ( and Jungseock Joo ( with questions.


  • Paper submissions: 15 December 2019
  • First decision: 15 February 2020
  • Paper revisions: 15 April 2020
  • Final decision: 15 May 2020
  • Online publication: July 2020
  • Print publication: October 2020

New Report: News Sharing on UK Social Media: Misinformation, Disinformation & Correction

As part of the activities of the Online Civic Culture Centre at Loughborough University, Andrew Chadwick and I have written an extensive report on the extent to which misinformation and disinformation circulates and is corrected on social media in the UK. The full report can be downloaded on the website of the Online Civic Culture Centre.

Very little is known about the motivations that drive people to share political news on social media and how these might be contributing to changes in our online civic culture. If we can learn more about the things people try to achieve when they share news online—and the extent to which these motivations might reinforce or undermine the distribution of false or misleading information—liberal democracies can start to think about how they can reduce important online harms. This report is the first to address these issues in Britain on the basis of a survey of the news sharing habits on social media of a representative sample of the British public. It was authored by Professor Andrew Chadwick and Dr Cristian Vaccari. We gratefully acknowledge the support of O3C data partner Opinium Research, which provided its survey services pro bono.

Key Questions

  1. How widespread is the sharing of false and misleading political news among British social media users?
  2. To what extent is there a persistent and damaging “anything goes” culture among those who share political news on social media?
  3. To what extent does the correction of false and misleading news through the “wisdom of crowds”—a previously much-lauded feature of the internet—actually operate on British social media?

To answer these questions, we designed a survey and asked Opinium Research to administer it to an online sample representative of the UK adult population, based on key demographic variables such as age, gender, and region of residence. 2,005 respondents completed the questionnaire between July 5–16, 2018.

Summary of Key Findings

  • More than half of British social media users (57.7 percent) came across news in the past month on social media that they thought was not fully accurate.
  • 42.8 percent of news sharers admit to sharing inaccurate or false news; 17.3 percent admit to sharing news they thought was made up when they shared it. These users are more likely to be male, younger, and more interested in politics.
  • A substantial amount of the sharing on social media of inaccurate or made up news goes unchallenged. Fewer social media users (33.8 percent) report being corrected by other social media users than admit to sharing false or exaggerated news (42.8 percent). And 26.4 percent of those who shared inaccurate or made up news were not corrected. There are some grounds for optimism if we see this particular glass as half full: after all, almost three quarters of respondents who shared news that was exaggerated or made up also reported being reprimanded by other social media users.
  • However, the most problematic news sharing does not stimulate many social media users to correct the sharers: in total, only 8.5 percent of British social media users said that they reprimanded another social media user for sharing news that was made up.
  • Those who share news on social media are mainly motivated to inform others and express their feelings, but more civically-ambivalent motivations also play an important role. For example, almost a fifth of news sharers (18.7 percent) see upsetting others as an important motivation when they share news.
  • There are some partisan differences in sharing inaccurate or made up news on UK social media. Conservative supporters, and those with right-wing ideological beliefs, are more likely to share inaccurate news; they are also more likely to be reprimanded by others for doing so. Labour supporters, and those who hold left-wing ideological beliefs, are more likely to see inaccurate news and to correct other social media users for sharing it.
  • About one-third (31 percent) of British social media users share news on social media at least once a month. The demographic and behavioural profile of these users resembles that of the most politically active members of the general public—they are more likely to be male, have higher educational attainment, and be more interested in politics—although younger people are more likely than older people to share news.

Download the full report on the website of the Online Civic Culture Centre.


Speaking at International Conference on the Internet and New Forms of Political Participation in Lille

This week I am traveling to Lille to give a keynote speech at the international conference “Internet et les nouvelles formes de participation politique”. The conference has been organized as part of the project “Analyse Pluridisciplinaire du Pétitionnement En Ligne“, led by Jean-Gabriel Contamin from the Centre d’études et de recherche administratives, politiques et sociales at the Université de Lille.

My speech will focus on “Social Media and Political Participation in Comparative Perspective“. I will present some key ideas and findings from the project I led on this topic from 2012-2016 and that I am channeling into a book that I am writing with my colleague Augusto Valeriani from the University of Bologna.

The program is available here. If you are in the area and would like to attend, you can register using this form.


Call for papers: Fifth Conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics


September 16-17, 2019, the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University (United Kingdom) will host the fifth conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics, focused on academic research on the relation between media and political processes around the world. Professor Stuart Soroka from the University of Michigan will deliver a keynote lecture.

A selection of the best full papers presented at the conference will be published in the journal after peer review. The deadline for submission of abstracts is May 10, 2019. Attendees will be notified of acceptance by June 7, 2019. Full papers based on accepted abstracts will be due September 2, 2019.

The conference brings together scholars doing 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 research in this area.

Examples of relevant topics include the political implications of current changes in media systems, including the increasing role of digital platforms; the importance of digital media for engaging with news and politics; analysis of the factors affecting the quality of political information and public discourse; studies of the role of entertainment and popular culture in how people engage with current affairs; studies of relations between political actors and journalists; analyses of the role of visuals and emotion in the production and processing of public information; and research on political communication during and beyond elections by government, political parties, interest groups, and social movements. The journal and the conference have a particular interest 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. [See the programs for the 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015 conferences.]

Titles and abstracts for papers (maximum 300 words) are invited by May 10, 2019. The abstract should clearly describe the key question, the theoretical and methodological approach, the evidence the argument is based on, as well as its wider implications and the extent to which they are of international relevance.

Please send submissions via the online form available at

The conference is organized by Cristian Vaccari (Loughborough University, Editor-in-Chief of IJPP). Please contact Dr Vaccari with questions at

More about the journal, the keynote speaker, the University, and the Centre: 

The International Journal of Press/Politics
IJPP 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 ranked 4th by Scopus (SJR) and 12th by Journal Citation Reports in Communication.

Professor Stuart Soroka, University of Michigan
Stuart Soroka is the Michael W. Traugott Collegiate Professor of Communication Studies and Political Science, and Faculty Associate in the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. His research focuses on political communication, the sources and/or structure of public preferences for policy, and the relationships between public policy, public opinion, and mass media.  His most recent book is Negativity in Democratic Politics: Causes and Consequences (2014, Cambridge University Press). Soroka is currently collaborating on a project focused on cross-national psychophysiological reactions to news content, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and a large-scale content-analytic project on media coverage of US public policy, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Loughborough University
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 that is ranked first in the UK by the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2018. 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.

The Centre for Research in Communication and Culture
Since our establishment in 1991, we have developed into the largest research centre of our kind in the UK. We are an interdisciplinary centre, crossing over social science and humanities disciplines to draw on theories and methods in social psychology, sociology, politics, history and geography. Renowned for the breadth of our research, we range across interpersonal and small-group communication, social media, political communication, media education, mainstream communications—including digital and online and the analysis of communicative work, such as political campaigning, popular music and memory. Our core research themes are all regarded as world-leading by our peers. We use a diversity of methods for data gathering and analysis and work with a variety of partners, including the BBC, the police, NSPCC and the Electoral Commission as well as our international collaborators, to deliver fundamental and applied research of exceptional quality.

Call for Nominations: International Journal of Press/Politics Best Book Award

IJPP logo

Nominations are invited for the annual International Journal of Press/Politics Best Book Award, to be sent to IJPP Editor-in-Chief Cristian Vaccari by email no later than March 1.


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

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


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


Nominations including a rationale of no more than 350 words should be emailed by March 1 to Cristian Vaccari at

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

Arrangements should be made with the publishers of nominated books for three hard copies to be sent by March 1 to Cristian Vaccari, School of Social Sciences, Brockington Building U.3.19, Loughborough University, Epinal Way, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, United Kingdom.

Award committee

The award committee consists of Cristian Vaccari (the editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics), Kimberly Gross (chair of the Political Communication Division of ICA), and Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt (chair of the Journalism Studies Division of ICA).


The award will be presented at the 2019 ICA Annual Meeting and will be announced on the IJPP website. The awarded book will also receive recognition in issue 4/2019 of the journal.

Past winners of the award

2018: Erik Albæk, Arjen van Dalen, Nael Jebril, and Claes H. de Vreese, Political Journalism in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

2017: Katrin Voltmer, The Media in Transitional Democracies (Polity Press, 2013).

2016: Andrew Chadwick, The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power (Oxford University Press, 1st edition 2013).

2015: Rodney Benson, Shaping Immigration News (Cambridge University Press, 2014).