Category Archives: conferences

ECREA 2016

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Just got back from Prague and the 2016 European Communication Conference, arranged by ECREA (yes, that’s me presenting in the picture above. Thanks to Carlota M. Moragas for providing the picture). Besides participating as commentator in the Journalism Studies Division PhD Student pre-conference workshop, I kept busy with a series of presentations – abstracts available below:

Learning by Failing – Editorial Expectations to Social Media Use Among Journalists
(co-authored with Karoline Andrea Ihlebæk)

News media organisations are increasingly dependent on social media intermediaries like Facebook and Twitter to distribute content and to facilitate the public debate (Canter 2013, Hille and Bakker 2013). Likewise, social media have become important professional tools for journalists in their everyday work practices (Hedman 2014, Hermida et al. 2012). While there are obvious advantages for news organizations and for journalists to utilize social media platforms, dilemmas related to these uses are also found. Of particular relevance to this paper is how the use of social media potentially blurs the line between the professional and the private roles of journalists (Rogstad 2014). The paper at hand investigates social media use among journalists from an editorial point of view. Research has documented how different journalists use social media for a number of work-related practices (Hedman and Djerf- Pierre 2013, Hille and Bakker 2013). However, there has been less focus on this topic from an editorial perspective. Such a focus is useful to gain insights into “the contextual complexity” (Fenton 2010, p.3) surrounding the use of new technology in the field of journalism and the production of news. The study is guided by the following research questions: How are the expectations for social media use among journalist expressed in news media organisations? And how is the potential blurring between the professional and private role discussed and managed? The study builds on a mixed-method approach. First, qualitative elite interviews with thirteen chief editors in leading national and regional media organizations have been carried out. Second, a representative survey directed to members of The Norwegian Journalist Association (NJ), were conducted. The questionnaire was sent out to all 7446 registered journalists and received a response rate of 21.7 % (N= 1613). Our study shows that the expectations to social media use differ both in form and content. In the survey, the journalists were asked if they had guidelines for social media use in their company. 30 % (N=479) of the journalists answered no, 48 % (N =740) confirmed they did, while 21 % (N=332) were not sure. Among those who had guidelines, 68 % (N=501) reported that they included advice on what they should or should not say as a journalist, while 53 % (N=386) had guidance about what they should say privately. Furthermore, 49 % (N=361) of the journalists report that the guidelines included information on how to share content, 37 % (N=271) on how to follow up their own stories in social media, and 35 % (N=260) on how to engage in dialogue with the audiences. In the qualitative interviews the the general impression is that guidelines often are developed on an ad hoc basis due to the dynamic nature of social media. Asked to reflect upon on the blurring of the professional and the private roles on social media, many chief editors stressed that journalists should be visible, but also cautious on social media. The authors discuss how this delicate balance often is addressed as problems occur, pointing to a “learning by failing”-approach.

Assessing Social Media Strategies – Comparing Twitter and Instagram Use During the 2015 Norwegian Elections

While the degree to which social media are actually contributing to electoral success can be called into question, online platforms such as Twitter are nevertheless seen as integral parts of contemporary election campaigns. Plenty of attention has been devoted to Twitter in particular, leading to what must be considered as a dearth of research looking into the uses of other social media services. The paper at hand seeks to remedy this apparent research gap by presenting a study comparing Twitter – with a more recent contender, the image-sharing service Instagram. The specific empirical setting for studying the uses of these two services is the 2015 Norwegian municipal and regional elections. Norway, often understood as one of the Nordic welfare states features a party-centered political system and advanced levels of Internet use – at the hands of citizens as well as government officials. As such, the Norwegian context appears as a suitable one in which to analyze recent developments regarding the platforms under scrutiny. While the two platforms under scrutiny certainly differ in many aspects, they nevertheless share a number of commonalities. For example, the use of hashtags, keywords employed by users to thematically ‘tag’ their posted content as relevant for a specific event, occurrence or topic, is common on both Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags dealing with the election at hand were utilized for data collection. Our focus was placed on the ‘short campaign’ – the final month of campaigning leading up to election day, which took place on September 14th, 2015. Data collection was initiated on August 14th and was terminated two days after Election Day in order to catch the electoral aftermath. Initial results indicate that while Twitter emerged as having a reactive relationship to specific events taking place in established media, such an association with established media was not found for Instagram. As such, Twitter use continues its clear association to political debates and the likes, while political Instagram use appears to go in another direction. As for what types of political actors that succeeded in gaining attention on each platform, differing tendencies were found for Twitter and Instagram respectively. While previous scholarship had suggested that Twitter use would be characterized by normalizing tendencies, with comparably larger actors dominating the discourse, the results contrarily show the platform to be characterized by activity undertaken by or related to comparably small political actors. Conversely, the suggestion from previous research that a comparably new service like Instagram would be characterized by equalizing tendencies – with a high presence of smaller political actors – proved to be erroneous. Much like for the relation of social media use in relation to established media discussed above, Instagram thus appears to be developing differently from Twitter.

Comparing (Inbetween) Campaigns –Swedish Political Parties on Facebook 2010–2014

So-called social media in particular are often discussed in terms of potentially invigorating modern democracies through novel means of outreach for political parties. Adopting conceptual notions of permanent campaigning, suggesting intensive efforts by such actors also outside of election seasons, the current paper presents an overarching study of Facebook use by Swedish political parties during and inbetween two elections – 2010 and 2014. Our specific interests are geared towards distinguishing between the activities undertaken by established and less established parties, where the latter group have often been pointed to as having especially valid reasons to partake online in this regard. The study also takes the types of feedback received into account, differentiating between so-called likes, shares and comments. The main findings indicate that while less established actors show tendencies towards a more permanent employment of Facebook, their established competitors are generally more successful in gaining leverage on the platform.

Moreover, together with most of my fellow editors for the Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics, Routledge hosted a book launch with champagne and all. Proof (picture by Routledge Media and Culture) is available below. Also, note the supreme photo bombing skills of the guy coming in from the right-hand side. Does anyone know who this guy is?

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All in all, ECREA was a productive conference, and I look forward to the 2018 Lugano meeting.

AoIR 2016

Humboldt

 

Just got back from Berlin, where the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society and the Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research hosted this years annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers – AoIR 2016. This year saw me presenting a paper that must be considered a bit off the common track for yours truly. Specifically, I have collaborated with Hilde van den Bulck of Antwerpen University on a project detaling initial reactions to the death of David Bowie on Twitter. An interesting topic, if I may say so myself – especially for a casual Bowie fan such as myself.

Big in Japan

ICA 2016 Logo

EDIT: May 14th: Following surgery due to a particularly nasty burst appendix, I will not be able to travel to ICA after all. A shame, but doctor’s orders are doctor’s orders. I am currently recuperating at home.

Apologies for the title of this post, I simply couldn’t resist. Nevertheless, when the smoke cleared after what some referred to as #glitchgate – see tweets by ICA, some graphs (of course) and an interesting prediction regarding next year’s conference – it was revealed that I would need to go Fukuoka for the 2016 ICA conference. Specifically, I’m involved in a series of presentations:

Larsson, Anders Olof (2016). Participant in roundtable: The Power of Digital Research. Other participants: Christian SandvigAniko HannakJean BurgessAngela WuEszter Hargittai and Homero Gil de Zúñiga.

Kalsnes, Bente, Larsson, Anders Olof and Enli, Gunn (2016). The social media logic of political interaction: Exploring citizens€ and politician relationships on Facebook and Twitter.

Larsson, Anders Olof (2016). “I Shared the News Today, Oh Boy”.€“ News Provision and Engagement on Facebook.

Sundnes Løvlie, Anders, Ihlebæk, Karoline Andrea and Larsson, Anders Olof (2016). User experiences with editorial control in online comments sections after the 2011 terror attacks in Norway.

Looks like I will have a busy week in Fukuoka.

Phoenix, AoIRizona

Desert botanical gardens

The picture above was taken by yours truly at the Desert Botanical Gardens, right outside of Phoenix, Arizona (or perhaps AoIRizona), site for the 2016 Association of Internet Researchers conference. This time around, I played a part in co-organizing two events together with Axel Bruns from Queensland University of Technology. First, I chaired and presented in a panel entitled Adoption and Adaptation: Diachronic Perspectives on the Growing Sophistication of Social Media Uses in Elections Campaigns. Besides Axel and myself, the other presenters were Tim Highfield, Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Luca Rossi. As the title (hopefully) implies, we provided longitidunal and/or diachronic insights regarding uses of social media during elections in our respective case countries. My presentation can be accessed here.

Moreover, I took part in a roundtable discussion featuring Axel Bruns as well as Katrin Weller from the GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne. Specifically, our session was entitled ‘Black Box’ Data and ‘Flying Furball’ Networks: Challenges and Opportunities in Doing and Communicating Social Media Analytics. This was a stimulating opportunity to engage in discussion with not only my fellow panelists, but also the audience, regarding a series of issues regarding research on social media. For my own part, I focused my opening statement on three main issues. First, I took the opportunity to share some of my experiences of free vs. paid alternatives for Twitter data gathering. This knowledge is important to share, I would argue, since the business interests of Twitter data providers do not always align with the interests of researchers. Second, I took the opportunity to provide some examples of difficulties in communicating with ethical review boards across countries. Based on work undertaken by myself and in collaboration with Hallvard Moe (pdf), the differences between Sweden and Norway in this regard are rather substantial. Finally, I took the opportunity to provide some examples of different approaches to data gathering from Facebook – and what can go wrong when approaching Facebook for research purposes.

AoIR (get it? AoIRizona?) is one of my favorite conferences to attend, and next year doing so will be even more enjoyable since it is hosted in Berlin – a rather short flight compared to the time it took to travel from Oslo to Phoenix…

NordMedia in Copenhagen

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Last week saw the biannual NordMedia conference go down in Copenhagen, gathering the bulk of media and communication researchers from the nordic countries. I had the pleasure of presenting two papers. The first (co-authored with Christian Christensen) deals with the uses of social media by the Swedish public service broadcaster, SVT, during the 2014 elections. The starting point for the paper is that while plenty of journalists are indeed present on Twitter, this particular service is used in a rather limited way by the larger population of online Swedes. Given the PSB mission of SVT, one might expect them to apply more of their resources to the more popular Facebook platform than we found that they did. This, we argue, signals somewhat of a communicative mismatch between the journalists and their audiences.

The second paper I was involved with was actually presented by my co-author, Eli Skogerbø. For this project, we looked at the values ascribed to various communication channels by Norwegian municipal politicians. While a lot of research has been performed looking at the communication practices of national level politicians, there appears to be a lack of studies focusing on the local level. With this as well as other, planned projects, I hope to be able to shed some more light on practices on the municipal level – arguably the level of government that most of us deal with on a day-to-day basis. On of the main results from the survey we used for this particular paper was that, with regards to online communication efforts, local politicians prefer Facebook over Twitter, which again speaks to the elite status of the latter platform. More to come…

This conference also saw me and my co-chair (Jakob Svensson) for the NordMedia political communication division step down and leaving responsibilities with Nils Gustafsson from Lund University and Christina Neumayer from the IT University of Copenhagen. I’m confident they will do a great job of organising sessions for NordMedia 2017, which if I am correctly informed will take place in Tampere, Finland.

Oh, and the picture above: I found this sign in a bicycle shop near Havnegade in Copenhagen (yes, that is me reflected in the window. Master photographer at work.). Translated, it says “We are here and we listen”. I thought it was a beautiful image – if anyone can enlighten me as to any further meaning attached to this picture, please get in touch.

Zürich

Zurich

I have just returned home from a week spent in Zürich as a participant in the New Perspectives on Populist Political Communication workshop and launch event of the COST Early Stage Researchers Think Tank, neatly organized by Sven Engesser and Nayla Fawzi. This was a chance for me to relate more clearly to a topic I’ve been approaching over the last couple of years. In my more general studies of political actors online, the results almost always indicated a stand-out role in some regard for actors that could, by the rationale of your choice, be singled out as populist. Consider, for example, the role of the Norwegian Progress Party during the 2013 elections, or the enormous online popularity enjoyed by the Sweden Democrats. As such, the Zürich meeting gave me a chance to re-focus some of my empirical material to focus more specifically on these types of actors – an enjoyable exercise indeed. These were productive and enjoyable days, and I hope that the group convened in Zürich will have the opportunity to meet again.

Seattle once again

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The annual ICA conference is an important meeting place for communication scholars around the world, and given the results of the review process that were distributed yesterday, I will have the opportunity to once again present some of my ongoing research at this years meeting. This year, the conference is held in Seattle, a city I had the opportunity to visit during the 2011 AOIR conference – a great experience indeed, and I look forward to go back. I will be presenting some of the findings featured in the paper “Everyday Elites, Citizens or Extremists? Assessing the Use and Users of Non-Election Political Hashtags” which, as the title implies, presents a structural analysis of the types of users that take place in hashtagged political discussion on Twitter. Specifically, tweets from political contexts in Sweden and Norway are collected and analyzed with a specific focus on the top users and their activities. Results indicate that while thematic Twitter discussion can indeed serve as a potential channel for ordinary citizens, the influence of established as well as political extremist actors is also clearly discerned. This tendency for in particular right-wing populist actors to utilize the novel medium is especially visible in the Swedish contexts – a finding which is further problematized and discussed in the paper. If you would like to read the draft that was submitted to ICA, get in touch and I will be happy to send you a copy.

Moreover, my abstract entitled “Birds of a Feather Flock Together? Party Leaders on Twitter during the 2013 Norwegian Elections” (co-authored with Øyvind Ihlen) has been accepted for presentation during the Strategic Communication Campaigns in a Contemporary, Digital and Networked Society preconference workshop. All in all, it looks like a promising conference.

Looking forward to Phoenix

Just booked my flight tickets to go to the annual ICA conference – this time taking place in Phoenix, AZ, at the end of may. Last year’s Boston ICA was my first experience with this huge conference – there are just too many interesting sessions going on to be able to catch them all. This year is shaping up to be a rather hectic experience: I submitted two papers, both based on my PhD dissertation (which will most likely be defended just days before I leave for Phoenix), and one panel (to be co-arranged by Hallvard Moe). Both papers and the panel was accepted – great! The panel is entitled Researching Social Media – Methodological and Ethical Challenges panel and will feature presentations by Michael ZimmerEszter HargittaiCornelius PuschmannJean BurgessAxel Bruns and Merja MahrtZizi Papacharissi will serve as discussant. A great line-up indeed. Looking forward to Phoenix!