Political Participation on Social, Civic and Computer Networks – Francesco Bailo

Friday 12 October 2018, 3.00-4.30pm

MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20

RSVP via Eventbrite

As political participation and organisation move online, the nature of the networks that sustain them changes. In this talk I will discuss my research into the Internet-mediated project of the Five Star Movement, an Italian political movement born out of a blog and that today controls the Italian government and more than one-third of Parliament. How could a political movement emerge from the Internet and only with the resources offered by the Internet become the dominant political force in a country?

In providing my answer to this question, I will reflect on the emerging political relevance of what I call the Citizen User: a new political identity defined by a sense of political disempowerment coupled with the intensive use of empowering Internet services. Based on the electoral results from the last two general elections and from the online activity of tens of thousands of users on Facebook and Meetup.com, I will provide insights into the territorial determinants of the electoral success of the Movement and reflect on the changing role of existing social and civil networks in fostering new forms political mobilisation in the age of the computer networks.

Francesco Bailo is Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Media Methods in the Department of Media and Communications (University of Sydney). Francesco obtained his PhD from the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney in 2017. His PhD thesis investigates the impacts of online talk and social-networking sites on political participation and organisations. He is interested in digital methods and particularly in the applications of network analysis and quantitative text analysis.

Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism and Social Media – Professor Axel Bruns

Friday 24 August 2018, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

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

RSVP via Eventbrite

Social media users now engage almost instinctively in collective and collaborative gatewatching processes as they respond to major breaking news stories, as well as in their day-to- day sharing of interesting articles with their social media contacts. Meanwhile, existing media outlets are increasingly seeking to maximise the shareability of their sto ries via social media, and a number of new players are fundamentally built around providing ‘viral’ content. This talk shows how this impacts on news industry practices and approaches. It reviews the practices of everyday users as they engage with the news, and highlights how enterprising journalists have come to connect and engage with such users. It traces the conflicted responses of journalists and news outlets from their early dismissals to gradual engagement with social media, and asks whether, as journalism is subsumed into social media, news outlets can remain distinctive enough to survive.

Prof. Axel Bruns is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He is the author of Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism, Social Media, and the Public Sphere (2018), Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008), and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co -editor of the Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics (2016), Twitter and Society (2014), A Companion to New Media Dynamics (2012), and Uses of Blogs (2006). His current work focusses on the study of user participation in social media spaces such as Twitter, and its implications for our understanding of the contemporary public sphere, drawing especially on innovative new methods for analysing ‘big social data’.

See Axel’s research blog here and he tweets at @snurb_dot_info. More details on his research into social media can be found here.

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

Friday 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).