The Data Divide: Who Gets to Know About You?

According to recent research at the Social Media Lab in Toronto, Canada, Canadians are somewhat comfortable with academic researchers accessing their social media data. 56% of Canadians indicate that they are ok with their data being used for academic research purposes. In contrast, only 34% of Canadians feel comfortable with marketers accessing their social media data, but this discomfort is unfortunately at odds with the way social media companies make money, meaning every day Canadians are exposing themselves to the groups which they don’t really (when asked) want to access their data.

A subway platform with the words "mind the gap" written on the floor
“Mind The Gap” by Allen Brewer is licensed under CC by 2.0

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The Data Divide: Who Gets to Know About You?

21st Century PR: When All Else Fails, Pretend You’re a Journalist

Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about fake news, biased journalism, and journalists as “very bad people“, the very people complaining the loudest about the press seem to be those who are most adept at manipulating it. Take for example, the current President of the United States, who employs a combination of direct to consumer social media tactics, and also maintains strong relationships with non-professiona,l we-cannot-really-call-them (cough cough) news organizations like infowars, in order to perform the idea of news while supplanting the actual purpose entirely.

A yellow plastic fish caught in a net hangs against a grey cubicle wall
“Fake fish, fake lomo” by Patrick Fitzgerald. CC-BY 2.0. Available from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/barelyfitz/34407290

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21st Century PR: When All Else Fails, Pretend You’re a Journalist

If Something Seems Right… Try To Find the Opposite

Digital communication and PR professionals recognize a few truisms about online communication:

  1. Strong emotions get shared more often on social media.
  2. People tend to share things they really strongly agree or disagree with.
  3. Google and Facebook tend to tailor or curate your feeds, giving you more of the stuff you already like, because that’s what we tend to view as more relevant.
  4. Messages that are easily digestible and meet criteria 1-3 will be more shareable than ones that are not.

In this information environment then, if you want to get your message out, you try to craft something that arouses a strong emotion and is specifically targeted at the audience you want to reach. If you don’t believe me, then think about how Trump’s campaign so masterfully employed Facebook targeting to reach their key demographics. While many still claim that Russian meddling helped to win the election, in reality it was strong, emotional and tailored content that won the day.

A picture of a sticker on a road sign. The sticker says I love propaganda
“I Love Propaganda” by Newtown Graffiti CC BY 2.0. Available from Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/irEHoL

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If Something Seems Right… Try To Find the Opposite

Giving Back to Our Communities: An Understated Value of Local News

This is a repost of a blog post I originally contributed to Medium.com, related to my local news research project from 2015-2017.

A large envelope with the text "Please Give Generously" printed on the side
“Generic charity” by Sascha Pohflepp is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Local news outlets contribute more to communities than just access to relevant information. Ryerson Professor, Joyce Smith, has published a paper in The Future of Local News: Research and Reflections that shows how embedded local news outlets have traditionally been in the practice of charitable giving in their communities. Her work details a historical connection between local news and charitable giving, and then touches on the ways that new media technologies have influenced, and in some cases disrupted this relationship.

Local news outlets play a role in their communities that digital replacements have yet to replicate… To read more visit Medium.

Giving Back to Our Communities: An Understated Value of Local News

Is the Presence of a Local News Outlet Enough? Buchanan’s Examination of Hyperlocal News

This post was originally posted to Medium, you can view the original here

One of the key benefits often ascribed to local news is that local news outlets facilitate more hyperlocal reporting. That is to say, the presence of a local news outlet is associated, at least in many people’s minds, with an increased coverage of local stories in a community. But is this correlation true in practice?

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Is the Presence of a Local News Outlet Enough? Buchanan’s Examination of Hyperlocal News

Using Technology to Understand Local News

This post is cross posted from medium.com. You can access the original here.

A map showing changes to local news outlets across Canada
A screen capture from Lindgren and Corbett’s (2018) Local News Map. Available at localnews.geolive.ca

This week marks the one year anniversary of our international conference: Is No Local News Bad News: Local Journalism and Its Future which was sponsored by SSHRC and the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre and held at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. This groundbreaking conference brought together an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars, journalists and media entrepreneurs to discuss the importance of local news to communities, the current state of local news around the world, the role of technology in local news, and what the future of local news could look like.

Continue reading “Using Technology to Understand Local News”

Using Technology to Understand Local News

Social Media Mindfulness Is Not Enough

A group of virtual reality avatars sitting in a circle engaging in meditation
“VR Meditation Guided by Jeremy Nickel” posted to Flickr by Sansar VR. Available at https://flic.kr/p/GBrspR CC-BY 2.0

It used to be only a few voices on the margin: Ian Bogost, Sherry Turkle, Geert Lovink, or Evgeny Morozov, for example, who urged people to think a little more about the time they were spending on social media. But soon the whisper grew and now the movement may be reaching the mainstream. With the rise to prevalence of former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris and his Center for Humane Technology, and with the Facebook Privacy/Cambridge Analytical scandal all over congress and the world news, people are starting to have conversations that were considered almost laughable before. Continue reading “Social Media Mindfulness Is Not Enough”

Social Media Mindfulness Is Not Enough

Civil Society: Gone to the Bots?

Civil society is defined by the London School of Economics as:

“Civil Society refers to the arena of uncoerced collective action around shared interests, purposes and values. In theory, its institutional forms are distinct from those of the state, family, and market, though in practice, the boundaries between state, civil society, family and market are often complex, blurred and negotiated. Civil society commonly embraces a diversity of spaces, actors and institutional forms, varying in their degree of formality, autonomy and power. Civil societies are often populated by organizations such as registered charities, development non-governmental organizations, community groups, women’s organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, trade unions, self-help groups, social movements, business associations, coalitions and advocacy groups”

I’d like to put the emphasis on “uncoerced collective action” in that definition, because I’d like to talk about how civil society might be challenged or at least threatened in an era where we organize using digital communication technologies.

Continue reading “Civil Society: Gone to the Bots?”

Civil Society: Gone to the Bots?

Social Media, the Separation of Time and Space, and a Plea for a Critical Look at Technology

Considered by James Carey to be the first medium of electronic communication, the telegraph was a revolutionary development, since it was the first communication medium to separate time and space for the purposes of communication. Before the invention of the telegraph, message speed was bound to how fast a messenger could travel: by foot, horse, or railroad. After the invention of the telegraph, messages could travel faster than a messenger ever could. This development thus had ripple effects on markets, democratic participation and community.

A picture of a telegraph machine
Telegraph by SparkFun Electronics. Available on Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/fCs2oC (CC by 2.0)

 

 

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Social Media, the Separation of Time and Space, and a Plea for a Critical Look at Technology

Celebrity “trumps” truth: The key difference between the liberal press and Twitter

Today, The Verge published an article stating that Twitter has drawn a small line in the sand with respect to the tweeting habits of the 45 president of the United States. Adi Robertson reports that Twitter has suggested that while it is important not to censor or remove important public figures like the president from the platform, it will draw the line at “tweets that reveal a private address or phone number”. Of course, not all people agree with this stand. For example, Sam Harris clearly stated in a recent podcast that he thinks Trump should be banned from Twitter, since the damage he can do via a Tweet is just so great. Twitter’s response though, is one worth considering. When is it appropriate to silence a public figure on a platform like Twitter? And when is it actually in the public interest to support a person’s right to make even crazy or patently false claims on the site?

A tweet made my Donald Trump in which he complains about fake news
A tweet made by Donald Trump: Picture from “Mother Jones” http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/02/donald-trump-edits-tweet/

 

 

 

 

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Celebrity “trumps” truth: The key difference between the liberal press and Twitter