Two PhD Studentships at the Online Civic Culture Centre at Loughborough University

I am very excited to announce two PhD studentships to study the spread of online misinformation and disinformation at Loughborough University’sOnline Civic Cultures Centre, which we launched this year.

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One project, co-supervised by Andrew Chadwick, Martin Sykora, and myself, focuses on “Understanding the Spread of Online Misinformation That Rejects Scientific Consensus: Audiences, Platforms, and Algorithms“. This project will examine the interrelationships between people’s motivations for sharing information, the types of information they share (such as media sources and statements by elites of various kinds), and the affordances of video sharing platforms, particularly YouTube. The project will compile a dataset of misleading information rejecting scientific consensus on selected key issues of our time, such as, for example, climate change or health. It will undertake content analysis as well as examine audience interpretations and responses. The project will also assess the role of algorithmic power in shaping people’s exposure and responses to misinformation rejecting scientific consensus and explore how the spread and societal impact of such misinformation might be reduced. More information is available here.

Another project, co-supervised by Louise Cooke, Suzanne Elayan, and Simone Natale is titled “What Role Do Social Media Influencers Play in Spreading Misinformation and Disinformation?“. This project will develop culturally-sensitive concepts for designing new algorithms to detect social media influencers who spread misinformation and disinformation on social media. Through a perspective attentive to the ethical and cultural implications of human-machine interactions on social media platforms, it will both improve understanding of the values embedded in platform algorithms and the role social media influencers play in spreading false information in online networks. The work will sit at the interdisciplinary intersection of computational text mining, applied data science, sociolinguistics, media theory, theories of artificial intelligence, and normative ethical theory. More information here.

The closing date for applications is January 11, 2019 for a starting date on September 30, 2019.

Please distribute widely and, if you are interested in applying, contact the primary supervisors (Andrew Chadwick and Louise Cooke). Feel free to reach out to me with regard to the project I am going to co-supervise.

 

PhD Studentships Available at Loughborough University

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD in political communication, please consider applying for one of the scholarships offered by the East Midlands Doctoral Training Partnership and funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council.

Loughborough University is a pathway lead for Communication and Media in the consortium and I would be pleased to consider proposals from students interested in studying aspects of the relationships between media, politics, and citizens. The official advertisement is here and information on how to apply is here. The closing date for applications is Tuesday 22nd January 2019.

Please get in touch if you want to discuss an idea for a project. You may also want to take a look at the “PhD” page on this website, which provides some information on the kinds of projects I am involved at the moment and the students I supervised in the past.

Feel free to spread the word far and wide!

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New Masters in Social Media and Political Communication at Loughborough University

We are now recruiting for a new Masters program in Social Media and Political Communication at Loughborough University, which will begin in October 2019.

As the official description says, “On this exciting and unique master’s programme you will gain advanced knowledge of how social media shape how political power is exercised in today’s turbulent world. The curriculum blends world-leading scholarly research with case study analyses of how political communication works in the real world.”

Let me add a personal note. I have started teaching full time in Loughborough a few weeks ago and I have been impressed by the quality of our learning environment. There is something about the sense of peace and community, as well as the quality of the teaching and the research by colleagues, that makes for a rather unique and enjoyable experience as a teacher. Students are engaged, motivated, and supportive of one another. I have taught in many places around the world, but Loughborough is definitely special.

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The full description of the program and information on how to apply are available here. If you have any queries, please email me.

New Editorial Team at the International Journal of Press/Politics

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In January 2019, I will officially start my new job as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Press/Politics.

When I was appointed Editor-in-Chief of IJPP, I returned to the “big tent” approach that inspired its founding editors, Marvin Kalb and Pippa Norris, and reformed the governance of the journal to ensure it can continue growing and thriving.

I am honored that three outstanding scholars will serve as Associate Editors: C.W. Anderson (University of Leeds), Sandra González-Bailón (University of Pennsylvania), and Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna).

I also found in Yannis Theocharis (University of Bremen) an excellent successor as Book Reviews Editor and in David Smith (Loughborough University) a dedicated Managing Editor.

I also reappointed two-thirds of the journal’s Editorial Board and invited a new cohort of colleagues to join them. I am grateful for their service and delighted that women and men are now equally represented in the Board.

The new editorial team will serve for the same duration as my first term as Editor-in-Chief (2019-2021). I cannot wait to start working with them.

I was pleased to introduce the new team at the fourth annual IJPP conference in Oxford.

 

Program of the Fourth annual International Journal of Press/Politics conference

ijpp[Cross-posted and adapted from Rasmus Kleis Nielsen’s website.]

I am delighted to announce the program of the fourth annual conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics. This is going to be a particularly special one for me as I am taking over as Editor-in-Chief of the journal in January 2019. The outgoing Editor-in-Chief, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, and I are organizing the conference, to be held at the University of Oxford on 11-12 October 2018. I am particularly pleased that my friend and colleague at Loughborough University Andrew Chadwick will be the conference keynote speaker. I will also have the pleasure to chair the final roundtable with members of the journal’s Editorial Board.

The conference venue is Green Templeton College, 43 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HG). Below is the program.

Thursday October 11th

8.45-9.00 Opening remarks

9.00-10.00 Keynote lecture, Andy Chadwick

10.30-12.00 Panels 1a and 1b

PANEL 1a: SOCIAL MEDIA & ELECTIONS (Chair: Gunn Enli)
Facebook Advertising in the United Kingdom General Election of 2017
Nick Anstead, Richard Stupart, Damian Tambini and Joao Vieira-Magalhaes

Diverging patterns of Facebook interactions on online news: media sources and partisan communities in the lead-up of 2018 Italian General Election
Fabio Giglietto, Augusto Valeriani, Nicola Righetti, and Giada Marino

When does Abuse and Harassment Marginalize Female Political Voices on Social Media?
Yannis Theocharis, Maarja Luhiste, Zoltan Fazekas, Sebastian Adrian Popa, and Pablo Barberá

PANEL 1b: NEWS CONSUMPTION (Chair: Homero Gil de Zúñiga)

More News Avoiders? A Longitudinal Study of News Consumption in Low and High Choice Media Environments 1997-2016
Rune Karlsen, Audun Beyer, and Kari Steen-Johnsen

News consumption on social media in authoritarian regimes: polarization and political apathy
Aleksandra Urman

Gateways to news and selective exposure: Evidence from survey and navigation data
Ana Cardenal, Carlos Aguilar-Paredes, and Mario Pérez-Montoro

13.00-14.30 Panels 2a and 2b

PANEL 2a: CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATION (Chair: Ralph Schroeder)

The Moderating Effect of Political Responsibility on Populist Communication Online: The case of the German AfD
Tobias Widmann

“His Tweets Speak for Themselves”: An Analysis of Donald Trump’s Twitter Behaviour
Suzanne Elayan, Martin Sykora and Tom Jackson

The rally-intensive campaign: A distinct type of election campaign in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond
Dan Paget

PANEL 2b: JOURNALISM IN DANGEROUS PLACES (Chair: Jane Suiter)

“Beyond the Dark Mountains”: Suspicion and Distrust in the work of journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Tali Aharoni

Strategies for safety autonomy: The role of journalists’ capital enhancing professional autonomy in violent contexts
Julieta Brambila

Local authoritarian enclaves in democracies and democratic hybrids: How much do they explain the harassment and murder of journalists over the last quarter century?
Sallie Hughes and Yulia Vorobyeva

15.00-16.30 Panels 3a and 3b

PANEL 3a: JOURNALISM IN PRACTICE (Chair: Ana Langer)

Democratizing Views in International News: Proportions of Northern and Southern Perspectives in American and Finnish Coverage of the Global South
Kirsi Cheas

The political determinants of journalists’ career
Andrea Ceron, Sergio Splendore,Rosa Berganza, Thomas Hanitzsch, and Neil Thurman

How German and British journalists differ in their political and ethical role conceptions
Imke Henkel, Neil Thurman, Veronika Deffner, and Ivica Obadic

PANEL 3b: CONCEPTS AND THEORIES (Chair: Jay Bumler)

The Authentic Politician: Strategies to Construct Authenticity in Political Campaigns
Gunn Enli

Old and New Echo Chambers
Paolo Mancini and Anna Stanziano

Communicative Power in the Hybrid Media System
Andreas Jungherr, Oliver Posegga, and Jisun An

Friday October 12

9.00-10.30 Panels 4a and 4b

PANEL 4a: NEWS CONTENT (Chair: Neil Thurman)

From Network to Narrative: Understanding the Nature and Trajectory of News Stories
Sarah Oates

Thinking through the political media system: Surprising similarities between polarized media outlets during Election 2016
Chris Wells, Josephine Lukito, and Zhongkai Sun

An anatomy of the complex role of the media on policy ‘U-turns’
Ana Ines Langer

PANEL 4b: MISINFORMATION AND MANIPULATION (Chair: Erik Bucy)

The Populist Campaigns against European Public Service Media: Hot Air or Existential Threat?
Felix Simon, Annika Sehl and Ralph Schroeder

Fake News as a Combative Frame: Results from a qualitative content analysis of the term’s definitions and uses on Twitter
Dominique Doering and Gina Neff

Disinformation and Media Manipulation in the Swedish 2018 Election
Ralph Schroeder, Lisa Kaati, and Johan Fernquist10.45-11.45 Panels 5a and 5b

PANEL 5a: ONLINE NEWS AND MEDIA USE (Chair: Gina Neff)

Are there echo chambers? A 7-nation comparison
Grant Blank & Elizabeth Dubois

The Proliferation of the ‘News Finds Me’ Perception Across Different Societies
Homero Gil de Zúñiga Nadine Strauss Brigitte Huber James Liu

PANEL 5B: COMPARATIVE RESEARCH ON ATTITUDES TO NEWS (Chair: Ana Cardenal)

Perceived Media Bias and Political Action: A 17-Country Comparison
Matthew Barnidge, Hernando Rojas, Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, Paul A. Beck

Polarization and Inequality: key drivers of distrust in media old and new?
Jane Suiter and Richard Fletcher

12.00-13.00 IJPP Editorial Board Roundtable (with Paolo Mancini, Sallie Hughes, and Sarah Oates) and closing remarks

13.00-14.00 Lunch

Back from the Internet, Policy & Politics Conference 2018

IPP2018-BannerLast week, I spent two very pleasant days in Oxford to attend the Internet, Policy & Politics Conference 2018.

On Thursday, Andy Chadwick presented our research, coauthored with Ben O’Loughlin and already published in New Media & Society, on the role of UK tabloids in providing resources through which social media users can misinform and disinform others. Andy has done a brilliant write-up of our findings in his blog and recently appeared on the BBC Radio Four program “Thinking Allowed” to discuss it. You can listed to the podcast of the show here.

On Friday, I was honored to contribute to the closing plenary panel, together with Helen Margetts, Zizi Papacharissi, Kurt Barling, and Victoria Nash who moderated the event. We discussed the theme of the conference, “Long Live Democracy?” and reflected on the evolving implications of digital media for democratic governance, participation, and policy-making.

Of course I will be back in Oxford very soon for the fourth International Journal of Press/Politics conference, and my first one as incoming Editor-in-Chief. Stay tuned for the final conference program!

New Open Access Article on Digital Political Talk and Participation across Established and Third Wave Democracies

Sage Open, an interdisciplinary open access journal, has recently published an article, coauthored by myself and Augusto Valeriani, in which we explore the relationships between different forms of online political talk and different modes of political participation across seven Western democracies. We have written this paper for a special issue, currently under development, edited by Pablo Barberà that will present research on social media and politics by members of the SMaPP Global Network, a great interdisciplinary initiative sponsored by New York University that I am honored and grateful to be part of.

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In the article, we distinguish between online political talk that occurs on social networking sites (SNS) (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), where users interact with broad audiences across public, semi-public, and private spaces, and mobile instant messaging services (MIMS) (such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat), where users interact with narrower audiences in mostly private spaces. We also distinguish between institutional political participation, which occurs in and around the structures of representative democracies (elections, parties, and public officials), and extra-institutional participation, which occurs outside of the representative circuit and involves protest repertoires. Finally, following Samuel Huntington, we distinguish between established democracies (Denmark, France, United Kingdom, and United States) and “Third Wave” democracies (Greece, Poland, and Spain). The key theoretical difference for us is that levels of political trust are generally higher in established than in Third Wave democracies.

We find that use of both SNS and MIMS for political discussion is positively associated with institutional political participation. However, while political talk on SNS is positively associated with extra-institutional participation as well, political talk on MIMS is not. Finally, we show that the positive relationship between political talk on SNS and institutional participation is significantly stronger in established than in Third Wave democracies, while there is no significant difference between these groups of countries when it comes to the relationship between political talk on MIMS and participation. The chart below summarizes these latter findings:

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As we discuss in the article, there are three key take-away points from this study. First, online political talk is a relevant piece of the puzzle of political participation. Secondly, technologies and their affordances matter, as different types of online environments create better or worse opportunities for types of informal political talk that may be conducive to participation. Thirdly, institutional legacies shape the relationship between online political talk and participation, which is stronger in high-trust, established democracies than in low-trust, Third Wave democracies. Thus, we argue in our conclusions, “technology interacts with
individual predispositions and political institutions—including the legacy of those that are now history—in shaping political outcomes.”

Here is the full citation and abstract:

Vaccari, C., & Valeriani, A. (2018). Digital Political Talk and Political Participation: Comparing Established and Third Wave DemocraciesSAGE Open8(2), 2158244018784986.

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.