Journalism Faculty Publication Series

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 8
  • Publication
    Antecedents of support for social media content moderation and platform regulation: the role of presumed effects on self and others
    (2020-01-01) Riedl, Martin J.; Whipple, Kelsey; Wallace, Ryan
    This study examines support for regulation of and by platforms and provides insights into public perceptions of platform governance. While much of the public discourse surrounding platforms evolves at a policy level between think tanks, journalists, academics and political actors, little attention is paid to how people think about regulation of and by platforms. Through a representative survey study of US internet users (N = 1,022), we explore antecedents of support for social media content moderation by platforms, as well as for regulation of social media platforms by the government. We connect these findings to presumed effects on self (PME1) and others (PME3), concepts that lie at the core of third-person effect (TPE) and influence of presumed influence (IPI) scholarship. We identify third-person perceptions for social media content: Perceived negative effects are stronger for others than for oneself. A first-person perception operates on the platform level: The beneficial effects of social media platforms are perceived to be stronger for the self than for society. At the behavioral level, we identify age, education, opposition to censorship, and perceived negative effects of social media content on others (PME3) as significant predictors of support for content moderation. Concerning support for regulation of platforms by the government, we find significant effects of opposition to censorship, perceived intentional censorship, frequency of social media use, and trust in platforms. We argue that stakeholders involved in platform governance must take more seriously the attitudes of their constituents.
  • Publication
    Algorithmic Actants in Practice, Theory, and Method
    (2020-01-01) Zamith, Rodrigo; Haim, Mario
    What changes as algorithms proliferate within journalism and become more sophisticated? In this essay, we synthesize the articles in this thematic issue, which offer empirical evidence for how algorithms—and especially those designed to automate news production—are being incorporated not only into journalistic activities but also into the logics of journalism itself. They underscore that journalists have neither feared nor rejected such algorithms, as might be expected given the recent history of technological adoption in journalism. Instead, journalists have sought to normalize the technology by negotiating them against existing values and practices, and perhaps even reified some normative ideological constructs by finding unique value in what they offer as humans. These articles also highlight the shortcomings of those algorithms, giving pause to postulations of algorithms as potential solutions to shortcomings of trust in news and market failures. Indeed, such algorithms may end up amplifying the very biases that seed distrust in news all the while appearing less valuable to readers than their human counterparts. We also point to new opportunities for research, including examinations of how algorithms shape other stages in the journalistic workflow, such as interviewing sources, organizing knowledge, and verifying claims. We further point to the need to investigate higher analytic levels and incorporate additional perspectives, both from more diverse contexts (e.g., Global South) and from our sister academic fields (e.g., human–computer interaction). We conclude with optimism about the continued contributions this stream of work is poised to make in the years to come.
  • Publication
    Activism, Advertising, and Far-Right Media: The Case of Sleeping Giants
    (2019-01-01) Braun, Joshua A.; Coakley, John D.; West, Emily
    This study examines the international activist movement known as Sleeping Giants, a social-media “campaign to make bigotry and sexism less profitable” (Sleeping Giants, n.d.). The campaign originated in the US with an anonymous Twitter account that enlisted followers in encouraging brands to pull their online advertising from Breitbart News. The campaign achieved dramatic success and rapidly spread to regions outside the US, with other anonymously run and loosely allied chapters emerging in 15 different nations (as well as a regional chapter for the EU). Many of these were initially created to take on Breitbart advertisers in their home countries, but in a number of cases they subsequently turned their attention to disrupting financial support for other far-right news media in—or impacting—their home countries. Based on interviews with leaders of eight Sleeping Giants chapters, as well as the related UK-based Stop Funding Hate campaign, this study examines the Sleeping Giants campaign with respect to its continuity with media activism of previous eras, while also seeking to understand its potential as one of the first high-profile activist campaigns to grapple with the impacts of programmatic advertising on the news ecosystem. In particular, we consider how the campaign’s interventions speak to the larger debate around the normative relationship between advertising and the performance of the news ecosystem.
  • Publication
    Open-Source Trading Zones and Boundary Objects: Examining GitHub as a Space for Collaborating on “News”
    (2019-01-01) Haim, Mario; Zamith, Rodrigo
    New actors, actants, and activities have entered journalism’s spaces in recent years. While this has raised the potential for the disruption of existing social orders, such heterogeneous assemblages also provide fruitful grounds for substantive innovation within “trading zones.” This article explores one such potential zone, the code-sharing platform GitHub, delineating the primary actors oriented around the boundary object of “news,” the objectives of their projects, the nature of their collaborations, and their use of software licenses. The analysis examines attributes of 88,776 news-oriented project repositories, with a smaller subsample subjected to a manual content analysis. Findings show that this trading zone consisted primarily of journalistic outsiders; repositories focused on technological solutions to distributional challenges and efforts that made journalism more transparent; that there was limited direct trade via the use of collaborative affordances on the platform; and that only a minority of repositories employed a permissive license favored by open-source advocates. This leads to a broader conclusion that while GitHub may be discursively important within journalism and certainly provides an avenue for actors to enter journalism’s periphery, it offers a limited pathway for those peripheral actors to move closer to the center of journalism. That, in turn, impacts the platform’s—and its users’—ability to reconfigure if not spur a reimagining of journalism’s meanings, conventions, and allocations of different forms of capital.
  • Publication
    Social Media and Distribution Studies
    (2015-01-01) Braun, Joshua A.
    Social media increasingly trouble our traditional distinctions between distribution concerns on the one hand and editorial concerns on the other. Sites like Facebook and reddit simultaneously serve as distribution platforms, circulating messages addressed to individuals and publics, and as mechanical editors, deciding algorithmically which posts and topics warrant inclusion in the continuous and often overwhelming feed of information delivered to each of our screens. Recent controversies surrounding the manner in which social media companies develop and test software and editorial strategies for curating content may have brought this editor–distributor duality into sharp relief in ways that feel new and at times uncomfortable. But as a number of critical scholars—most notably Michael Warner—have illustrated, the boundary between editorial and distribution concerns has always been highly porous. Framing social media as centers of reflexive distribution not only opens up sociologically interesting questions about how such distribution infrastructures are forged but also about how they affect the “concatenation of texts through time” and the sense of shared attention and imagined community that enable public discourse. This essay argues that the emerging field of “distribution studies” is a compelling lens for the considering social media and their place in society and public life.