Climate Coverage and New Journalism Players The forthcoming book Something Old, Something New: Digital Media and the Coverage of Climate Change (Reuters Institute/I.B. Tauris book series 2016) is a collaborative project led by James Painter aimed at documenting the coverage produced and the practices followed by BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, and Vice — what we’re calling “new journalism players” — during the 2015 Paris Climate Summit. Based on comparative research from France, Germany, Spain, the UK, and the US, the book demonstrates the value the outlets delivered by providing diverse journalism forms and themes and by giving space to traditionally under-represented voices.
The Snowden Revelations In 2014, I began work on a transnational research project on coverage of information on the US National Security Agency data snooping programs leaked by contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden. The project includes research being conducted in ten countries (Brazil, China and Hong Kong, Finland, France, Norway, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States) by scholars who provide each other with native-level analysis of and access to material. The research will be compiled in the forthcoming book (Reuters Institute/I.B. Tauris book series 2016) Journalism and the NSA Revelations: Privacy, Security and the Press, which I am co-editing with Risto Kunelius, Heikki Heikkila, and Dimitri Jagodin.
The Transformation of Journalism My first book, Networked: A Contemporary History of News in Transition (Polity 2011), traced the transformations that took place with the widespread proliferation of the Web and mobile technologies since the early 1990s. I argued that new journalism tools and practices seemed to be improving the quality of journalism by reviving past core values such as dialogue and pluralism and strengthening existing core values such as watchdogging power. My more recent book, Journalism as Activism: Recoding Media Power (Polity 2016), extends the arguments laid out in Networked by exploring the ways social actors are leveraging new media tools and new media publics to expand democratic power. The book focuses on the changing dynamics between activists and journalists and demonstrates the ways, as media activists become more adept at using and creating new communication tools, they are taking up the work of journalists, expanding what it means to be involved in the production of news and in the process gaining influence over the framing of traditional news stories and genres. And, as activists take up the practices of journalists, journalists are looking to activist for information and for ideas on how to report the stories of the day.
Media Climate Since 2009, I have been part of MediaClimate, a team of scholars from more than twenty countries that analyze news discourse surrounding worldwide events related to climate change. We have produced transnational comparative studies on coverage of the annual United Nations climate summits and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. Our research offers empirical data about how climate-change discourse is constructed in countries across the globe and in different national media systems. The work provides insight on local and global flows of information and of the nature of media practices in different cultural and political settings. The project’s empirical findings and theoretical insights have been published in two edited volumes, Global Climate, Local Journalisms (Projectverlag 2010) and Media Meets Climate (Nordicom 2012). I have written and co-written journal articles and book chapters on US coverage of climate change and on activist communication and online coverage of climate change in five national contexts. My article “Innovation in Hybrid Spaces,” published in Journalism: Theory Practice Criticism, studied the values and practices that shaped coverage at news and activist outlets covering the 2011 climate summit in Durban, South Africa.
At the Annenberg Center for Communication, I worked with Mimi Ito and Howard Rheingold to explore emerging forms of participatory or do-it-yourself media. I wrote with the ACC fellows a “wiki” essay on networked culture that was published as part of a book on networked culture by MIT press. We hosted a monthly speaker series, an online forum, and two workshops as a prelude to a Fall 2007 DIY Video Media Festival, which I co-chaired with Mimi. We invited key innovators as well as major industry representatives to attend. The festival showcased experiments in viral, amateur, and peer-to-peer work and fostered new alliances that we hoped would influence the future of DIY media.
International Activist Blogging
My research in online activism has led me to explore the development of blog culture in international contexts. It is clear that news blogs in the US and France, two specific contexts I focused on at the start of the project, were increasingly interacting with the content and agenda of mainstream news. For all the usual reasons, including early development and access to resources, successful western (mostly American) blogging models were exported around the world, in the form of their norms and practices but also on the level of code—that is, in their styles of interface and mode of operation. I edited a book, International Blogger: Identity, Politics and Networked Publics, with longtime friend and media scholar Nabil Echchaibi on the ways US blogging norms and practices function once they’re exported around the world. In examining media activist tools and practices in different local and national contexts, we addressed network-era questions on media hegemony or control—even when it appears in the form of tools of resistance—and on the uniquely universal-particular and global-local qualities of contemporary network society.
The 2005 French Riots, Pierre Bourdieu and New Media
The Fall 2005 riots in France and the controversies surrounding the way they were reported underlined the transnational and trans-media nature of the contemporary news landscape, highlighting some of the debates surrounding emerging journalism practices and products. The events provided material through which to pose some basic questions about the way the digital communication environment is evolving. A good place to start, I thought, was with French sociologist and media theorist Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas about the journalistic field. With the ghost of Bourdieu at my side, I recently completed a case study that offers a snapshot of new-media news activity centered around the riots and the ways that new-media activity may be challenging traditional journalism, altering it slightly now, perhaps, but pointing to a major contemporary shift and dramatic potential change in the future. The study underlines the relevance of Bourdieu’s writings to analysis of new media as well as suggesting ways to usefully update his conception of the journalistic field.
The Zapatista Online Network
My doctoral research centered on the Zapatista movement, perhaps the first major sustained example of a networked-era social movement, the first example of how—with the rise of many-to-many distribution in the form of mailing lists and collective blogs and of peer-to-peer social networking and collective authoring tools—the threshold for publishing and disseminating knowledge and culture to a general public was and continues to be reduced, increasing the speed and dimensions of DIY media and altering the character of longstanding communication genres. Articles based on my dissertation research were published in New Media and Society; Journalism: Theory, Practice, and Criticism; Gazette – International Journal of Communication Studies; and Peace Review.