Reporting Elections: Rethinking the Logic of Campaign Coverage – Dr Stephen Cushion, Cardiff University

Fri. 3 August 2018, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

RSVP via Eventbrite

How elections are reported has important implications for the health of democracy and informed citizenship. But how informative are the news media during campaigns? What kind of logic do they follow? How well do they serve citizens? Based on original research as well as the most comprehensive assessment of election studies to date, Stephen Cushion’s talk will examine how campaigns are reported in many advanced Western democracies. Focusing on the most recent US and UK election campaigns, he consider how the logic of election coverage could be rethought in ways that better serve the democratic needs of citizens.

During the 2017 UK election campaign, his study found broadcasters drew heavily on journalistic judgements about public opinion in vox pops and live two-ways. In doing so, the portrayal of citizens in television news was largely shaped by a relatively narrow set of assumptions made by political journalists about the public’s ideological views rather than conveying a more representative picture of public opinion. As a consequence, at times voters were portrayed as favouring more right- then left-wing policies despite evidence to the contrary.

Cushion thus argues that election reporting should be driven by a public logic, where the agenda of voters takes centre stage in the campaign and the policies of respective political parties receive more airtime and independent scrutiny.

Dr Stephen Cushion is a Reader at Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. He has also published over 50 journal articles and book chapters on issues related to news, politics and journalism. He is on the editorial board of several leading academic journals, including Journalism StudiesJournalism PracticeJournalism: Theory, Practice and CriticismJournalism Education and Journal of Applied Journalism and Media. He has written three sole authored books, News and Poitics: The Rise of Live and interpretive JournalismThe Democratic Value of News: Why Public Service Media Matter(2012, Palgrave) and Television Journalism (2012, Sage) and one co-authored book, Reporting Elections: Rethinking the Logic of Campaign Coverage (2018, Polity Press, with Richard Thomas).

Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media – Tarleton Gillespie

Tuesday August 28, 4pm – 6pm

John Woolley Common Room, N480

John Woolley Building, A20

University of Sydney

RSVP via Eventbrite

Most social media users want their chosen platforms free from harassment and porn. But they also want to see the content they choose to see. This means platforms face an irreconcilable contradiction: while platforms promise an open space for participation and community, every one of them imposes rules of some kind.


In the early days of social media, content moderation was hidden away, even disavowed. But the illusion of the open platform has, in recent years, begun to crumble. Today, content moderation has never been more important, or more controversial. In Custodians of the Internet, Tarleton Gillespie investigates how social media platforms police what we post online – and the societal impact of these decisions.


“I have been writing about the impact of platforms and the digital transformation for fifteen years,” said Gillespie. “This book explains how content moderation works: how the platforms think of their responsibilities, the way they create and articulate the rules, the labor behind the scenes, and recent efforts to automate it all.” Based on interviews with content moderators, creators, and consumers, this book contributes to the current debates about the public responsibilities of platforms, be it about harassment, data privacy, or political propaganda.


Gillespie argues that content moderation still receives too little public scrutiny. How and why platforms moderate can shape societal norms and alter the contours of public discourse, cultural production, and the fabric of society.


Tarleton Gillespie is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New England, part of the Social Media Collective research group. He is an affiliated associate professor at Cornell University, in the Department of Communication and the Department of Information Science. He cofounded the blog Culture Digitally.

He is the author of Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture (MIT, 2007), the co-editor of Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society (MIT, 2014); his newest book is Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media (Yale, 2018).

Media@Sydney Seminar Series, Semester 1

We are very pleased to announce our 2018 Media@Sydney series. Events will be held at 3pm in S226 John Woolley Building (A20) at the University of Sydney and will be followed by informal drinks.

2 March 2018: Emeritus Professor Graeme Turner (University of Queensland) The media and democracy in the digital era – is this what we had in mind?

16 March 2018: Professor Paul Dourish (University of California, Irvine) Data in the City: The Pragmatics of Data-Driven Urbanism

10 April 2018: Dr Lina Dencik (Cardiff University), Approaches to data justice: Examining datafication from the perspective of social justice

20 April 2018: Professor Caroline Bassett (University of Sussex), Professor Helen Thornham (University of Leeds) and Dr Edgar Gómez Cruz (University of New South Wales), Fast Data, Slow Bodies: automation, humans, machines

 27 April 2018: Dr. Penny O’Donnell (University of Sydney) The future is union: Digital journalists pushback against employment insecurity

11 May 2018: Distinguished Professor Sarah Pink (RMIT University), Autonomous Driving Futures

18 May 2018: Dr. Megan Le Masurier (University of Sydney), Slow Magazines: Indies in print in a digital age

1 June 2018: Jean Christophe Nougaret, (Médecins Sans Frontières Australia) and Denby Weller, (Macleay College), Witness this!: How to document research with mobile video

1 June 2018: Dr. Scott Wright (University of Melbourne), When Journalists go “Below the Line”: Engaging with the audience in comment spaces at The Guardian (2006-2017)

 8 June 2018: Dr. Timothy Graham (Australian National University), Data science meets social science: Mapping the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook