New publication (and the story behind it): “Journalism Studies and its Core Commitments: The Making of a Communication Field”

I’m excited to announce this publication as the lead article to the latest issue of Journal of Communication, the flagship journal of the International Communication Association:

Carlson, M., Robinson, S., Lewis, S. C., & Berkowitz, D. A. (2018). Journalism studies and its core commitments: The making of a communication field. Journal of Communication, 68(1), 6-25. doi:10.1093/joc/jqx006 (PDF)

Here is the abstract:

This article conceptualizes the distinctiveness of fields of scholarship within the discipline of communication through particular normative assumptions and identity practices defined here as commitments. A case study of journalism studies results in the postulation of six conceptual commitments that define its core ontological and epistemological premises: contextual sensitivity, holistic relationality, comparative inclination, normative awareness, embedded communicative power, and methodological pluralism. These interrelated features articulate the central dimensions of journalism studies, establishing the boundaries of the field and its relational, cultural, holistic, ecological, and contextual acts of scholarship. This article provides a blueprint for other communication scholars to address assumptions and commitments that situate and define their subdisciplines as distinct fields.

And here is the story behind the publication…

At the AEJMC conference in San Francisco in 2015, we began discussing: What is journalism studies, anyway? What demarcates it as a “thing” in communication research? And so, the “Iowa Group” was formed: in February 2016, Matt Carlson (Saint Louis University), Sue Robinson (University of Wisconsin), and I (representing University of Minnesota at the time) drove exactly four hours each to centrally located Iowa City, where we met up with Dan Berkowitz, a longtime traveler in this line of thinking and our host at the University of Iowa.

The four of us spent a Friday hashing out various dimensions, orientations, and predilections in journalism studies—what made it interesting, even unique, as a domain of research within the larger study of communication. How can we take this field of research, which has grown so fast and traveled so far in less than two decades, and apply to it a sense of contour and identity? How might we build upon the distinctiveness of journalism studies—a domain with an emerging set of core dimensions—to outline a pattern for how other scholars might address the underlying assumptions and epistemologies that define other subfields?

At the end of our daylong discussion, we shared our (very preliminary) ideas with faculty and graduate students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa. They offered a number of key comments and suggestions. Later, we settled on six interrelated commitments that speak to core dimensions of journalism studies:

• contextual sensitivity
• holistic relationality
• comparative inclination
• normative awareness
• embedded communicative power
• methodological pluralism

As we say in the paper: “None of these dimensions is unique to journalism studies. Many other fields espouse similar commitments as part of their own efforts to identify the normative assumptions embedded in their research. But, as a whole, these commitments coalesce into a particular perspective optimized for the challenges of studying the complexities of contemporary journalism. They commitments comprise the heart of journalism studies scholarship.”

After explaining each of the six commitments, we write:

“Taken together, these commitments indicate, first, a shift away from the analysis of journalism according to assumed normative perspectives or as an unexamined actor whose texts have effects on audiences and social institutions. Journalism—or news, more specifically—is not reduced to the independent variable, but instead invites scrutiny as part of a holistic system of interlinking institutions. Second, these commitments reject simplified perspectives that reify journalism as a single ‘thing’ to instead situate journalism within the larger ecological conditions of media, culture, and society. Finally, they indicate a critique of universal principles, celebrate nuance with contextualization, and emphasize an intense awareness of relationality while still foregrounding a concern with power. If journalism studies is to be a useful field, it must recognize what its commitments are and how they contribute to an understanding of journalism that helps make sense of its symbolic power.”

We won’t pretend that this is the final word about journalism studies—and undoubtedly there will be differences of opinion about the commitments we have outlined. Debates are most welcome! They are good for the continued development of journalism studies as a field.

We’re hiring five new faculty at Oregon, including in Games and Emerging Media Technologies

Here at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, we have five(!) tenure-line faculty openings — in Science Communication (open rank); Social Media and Data Analytics; Media and Intersectionality; Media Studies: Global Media, Technology, and Social Justice; and Media Studies: Games and Emerging Media Technologies (see all the position descriptions here). I’m chairing that last one; the full description is below.

I’ll be at AEJMC this week, if folks would like to connect and chat about this position or the other opportunities at SOJC.

And please spread the word to anyone you think may be interested in these openings. Thanks!

University of Oregon

School of Journalism & Communication

Assistant Professor in Media Studies, in the area of Games and Emerging Media Technologies

Position Announcement


The School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon seeks a tenure-track assistant professor in media studies, with an emphasis in game studies and related issues for digital media and society, to join a nationally recognized program that emphasizes critical thinking, media literacy, experiential learning, and a commitment to social progress and diversity.

Digital games are one of the fastest­growing sectors of the entertainment industry, generating both enormous profits and emerging forms of influence in media, culture, and society. Related developments in mobile applications, virtual reality, and augmented reality likewise are shifting how we think about the nature of media technologies, the philosophies and ethics associated with them, and relationships between humans and machines. The ideal candidate should be poised to help position the SOJC at the forefront of research in game studies and digital studies more generally.

Ideal assistant professor candidates will have a Ph.D. (ABD considered), a well-defined research agenda with evidence of scholarly publication, and a demonstrated teaching ability at the collegiate level. Experience with applying for and securing external grants from relevant government and private sources is especially desired. Professional experience in game design/development and/or other relevant forms of digital media work is desired but not required. The ideal candidate will offer the ability to research, teach, and lead in an innovative fashion.

The candidate should demonstrate the ability to teach courses in game studies, digital media and society, and other areas of the media studies undergraduate area. Teaching opportunities in the candidate’s additional areas of specialization (if applicable) are potentially available across the undergraduate curriculum, as well as in our academic master’s and doctoral programs in Media Studies and our graduate professional programs in both Eugene and Portland. Additionally, the ability to teach courses in ethics and media law may be given special consideration.

We value candidates who share the following school priorities: attracting undergraduate and graduate talent, offering relevant experiential learning opportunities, and academic excellence through enhanced research productivity.

The SOJC is an ACEJMC-accredited program with a century-long history at the University of Oregon, which is a comprehensive research university and a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Our program thrives as a journalism and communication school known for innovation, ethics, and action. We offer four undergraduate concentrations (in advertising, journalism, media studies, and public relations), four professional and academic master’s programs, and a doctoral program in media studies.

We invite applications from qualified candidates who share our commitment to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning and work environment. Employment begins September 16, 2018. To ensure consideration, please submit application materials by October 2, 2017. The position will remain open until filled. Interested candidates should submit a letter of interest, CV, and the names of four academic references to http://careers.uoregon.edu/cw/en-us/job/520583/assistant-professor-of-media-studies-games-studies.

For inquiries about the application process, please contact sojcjobs@uoregon.edu or the HR Manager at 541-346-2369. Specific inquiries about the position may also be directed to the search chair: Associate Professor Seth C. Lewis, Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media, sclewis@uoregon.edu.

The University of Oregon is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution committed to cultural diversity and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The University encourages all qualified individuals to apply and does not discriminate on the basis of any protected status, including veteran and disability status.

CfP: Special issue of New Media & Society — “Truth, facts, and fake: The shifting epistemologies of news in a digital age”

I’m excited to announce the following call for papers for a special issue of New Media & Society: “Truth, facts, and fake: The shifting epistemologies of news in a digital age.” I will be co-editing the special issue with two terrific partners, Mats Ekström and Oscar Westlund of the University of Gothenburg (the three of us are working on a recently funded grant to study the epistemologies of digital news production). Note that, in addition to the special issue, shortlisted authors will be invited to participate in an online workshop in early 2018 that will allow for feedback on each other’s work as well as a chance to experiment with a virtual meeting format.

Thank you for sharing this CfP far and wide!

CALL FOR PAPERS: Special issue of New Media & Society and related online workshop

Truth, facts, and fake: The shifting epistemologies of news in a digital age

Co-editors:
Mats Ekström, University of Gothenburg
Seth C. Lewis, University of Oregon
Oscar Westlund, University of Gothenburg

Tentative timeline:

  • Abstract submission deadline: Monday, October 2, 2017
  • Notification on submitted abstracts: Friday, October 20, 2017
  • Online workshop focusing on the special issue theme: in early February 2018
  • Article submission deadline: Thursday, March 1, 2018

Verified, fact-based information is presumed to be an important feature in society, for citizens individually and for democratic governance as a whole. During much the 20th century, legacy news media enjoyed a prominent position in attempting to fulfill that role, reporting on happenings near and far. Journalists professionalized over time, developing standards, norms, methods, and networks of sources that enabled them to make knowledge claims. Such epistemological practices—presumed to provide factual and reliable public information—have made journalism one of the most influential knowledge-producing institutions in society.

However, both slow and sudden changes are challenging the role of journalism in society. There is an ongoing but gradual shift from legacy media to digital media. On the one hand, this shift has opened new pathways for news access and distribution across an array of platforms—social, mobile, apps, and the like. On the other hand, this shift has generally undercut the business models of legacy news media organizations, resulting in the weakening and downsizing of newsrooms and the fragmenting of collective audiences for news—altogether raising questions about the continued viability of journalism to produce reliable information. Meanwhile, the more sudden change in the information landscape is the rapid expansion of actors that, in some cases, are intent on providing “alternative facts” or otherwise questioning the accounts of news media. This comes at a moment when many people, particularly in developed countries, appear to have little confidence in the press. While some of these sources seek to verify facts in a journalistic fashion, others pursue a deliberate strategy of disinformation for political or financial purposes. The success of such “fake news” has led to widespread debate about what some are calling a “post-truth” era.

Altogether, these developments point to many opportunities for research and theory. A general question concerns how the epistemologies of journalism—knowledge claims, norms, and practices—are shaped by the changes and challenges in digital news production. How do journalists know what they know, and how are their knowledge claims articulated and justified? To understand the destabilization of the epistemic status of journalism articulated in current debates, what is needed are empirical studies, historical explanations, and theoretical developments. Moreover, it is essential to better understand how news consumers perceive news, “fake” or otherwise; e.g., how do they evaluate and act upon such claims? Citizens also need media literacy skills to assess the quality of information; what constitutes such literacy, and how does it respond to the knowledge conditions of the contemporary digital environment? As a response to the rise of fake news, several groups have mobilized to investigate information. The functioning and implications of such mobilizations (such as fact-checking movements), as well as digital media tools that aid citizens and professionals in verifying information, are important to analyze to develop our understanding of the production and consumption of more or less verified and non-verified information in a changing news media landscape.

For this special issue, the guest editors welcome two kinds of article submissions: theoretically informed and empirically rigorous articles (using quantitative, qualitative, computational, and/or mixed methods), as well as conceptualizations involving systematic and relevant literature reviews. Contributors may address issues including, but not limited to, the following:

* The epistemology of different forms of journalism—such as data journalism, which conveys news through the analysis and visualization of numerical data, and participatory journalism, which involves audiences and communities in news construction;

* Knowledge-oriented norms, values, and practices applied when publishing and distributing news, accordingly to varying socio-cultural, political, organizational, and technological contexts;

* The shifting networks of sources on which journalists and other information professionals rely;

* The discursive construction of “truth” and “facts” in the context of news production, distribution, and consumption;

* Notions of “fake news,” “post-truth,” and related controversies brought to light by the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and which are applicable also in many other countries and contexts;

* The knowledge-oriented practices of news consumers as they encounter purportedly “fake news” and propaganda online (and, by extension, questions of and conceptualizations for media literacy);

* Verification on/for social media as well as related forms of technologically driven means of information assessment;

* Perceptions and practices of professional footage vis-à-vis amateur footage, including issues of authenticity and authority;

* The formation, vision, and practices of initiatives, groups or organizations working toward identifying “fake news,” on behalf of professionals, the public or both;

* Comparative perspectives on news consumers and their relative trust in different forms of media processes and products;

* The development, appropriation, and use of technological systems and tools for verification.

Information about submission:

Proposals should include the following: an abstract of 500-750 words (not including references) as well as background information on the author(s), including an abbreviated bio that describes previous and current research that relates to the special issue theme. Please submit your proposal as a PDF to the e-mail address ekstrom.lewis.westlund@gmail.com no later than Monday, October 2, 2017. Later that month, by October 20, authors will be notified whether their abstract has been selected, and consequently if they will be encouraged to develop and submit an article for peer review.

Please note: Authors whose abstracts are shortlisted for full-paper submission to the special issue also will be committing to take part in an online workshop, hosted by the University of Gothenburg, to be held in early February 2018. This experimental approach will allow for the sharing and commenting on drafts as well as the discussion of more general theoretical issues, future research opportunities, and networking among scholars. Live sessions will be held for portions of two days, in addition to a week period for open commenting and discussion. Further details will be conveyed to shortlisted authors.

Finally, full articles will be due Thursday, March 1, 2018, for full blind review, in accordance with the journal’s peer-review procedure.

News! I’m taking a new role as Papé Chair at the U. of Oregon

UO-SOJCBeginning Fall 2016, I will join the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication as the inaugural Shirley Papé Chair in Electronic Media. I’m thrilled and honored to have this endowed-chair opportunity, to further my research and teaching on journalism and technology, and to work with a terrific set of colleagues both in Eugene and at the School’s Turnbull Center in Portland. Notably, the School has grown tremendously in recent years and is celebrating its centennial in 2016.

While my family and I are sad about leaving behind the many people and places we love here in Minnesota, we’re also excited about the unique nature of the chair position and this new adventure ahead, particularly given that it puts us closer to family roots in the Pacific Northwest.

I have loved my six years as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota, and am deeply grateful to my colleagues here. They have been friends, mentors, and collaborators in the best sense of those words, and I am so much the better, personally and professionally, for having worked with and learned from them along the way.

From Minnesota Gophers to Oregon Ducks, here we go!

Boundaries of Journalism: Professionalism, Practices and Participation

9781138020672I’m excited to announce the publication of Boundaries of Journalism: Professionalism, Practices and Participation (Routledge, 2015), which I co-edited with the immensely talented Matt Carlson of Saint Louis University. The book includes some terrific contributions from an international group of scholars studying boundary work and journalism. It is published as part of the Shaping Inquiry in Culture, Communication and Media Studies series edited by Barbie Zelizer.

Below is the back-cover material, as well as the table of contents and links to more online:

 

BOUNDARIES OF JOURNALISM: PROFESSIONALISM, PRACTICES AND PARTICIPATION
Edited by Matt Carlson and Seth C. Lewis

Routledge, 2015

The concept of boundaries has become a central theme in the study of journalism. In recent years, the decline of legacy news organizations and the rise of new interactive media tools have thrust such questions as “what is journalism” and “who is a journalist” into the limelight.

Struggles over journalism are often struggles over boundaries. These symbolic contests for control over definition also mark a material struggle over resources. In short: boundaries have consequences. Yet there is a lack of conceptual cohesiveness in what scholars mean by the term “boundaries” or in how we should think about specific boundaries of journalism.

This book addresses boundaries head-on by bringing together a global array of authors asking similar questions about boundaries and journalism from a diverse range of perspectives, methodologies, and theoretical backgrounds.

Boundaries of Journalism assembles the most current research on this topic in one place, thus providing a touchstone for future research within communication, media and journalism studies on journalism and its boundaries.

Reviews

“As emerging forms blur the line between media writ large and the realm culturally acknowledged as journalism, the concepts of boundaries and boundary work become vital tools for scholarly sense-making. Carlson and Lewis make an immense contribution to journalism studies, bringing together an international group of scholars to explicate these concepts that both highlight journalism’s universal traits and identify it as contextually unique.” — Dan Berkowitz, Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa, USA

“Carlson and Lewis expertly weave together a variety of thoughtful conceptual and methodological perspectives on boundary work in journalism. The compelling contributions to this outstanding volume offer key insights into cultural, political, technological and economic factors influencing the construction of boundaries between journalists and audiences related to news practices, participants and professional norms.” — Bonnie Brennen, Nieman Professor of Journalism, Diederich College of Communication, Marquette University, USA

“Boundaries of Journalism provides an apposite intervention into the uncertainties surrounding definitions of journalism and journalists. The collection provides an eclectic mixture of perspectives looking at the social and material changes affecting journalism in the 21st century. The book provides a further building block in advancing the maturity of journalism studies.” — Howard Tumber, Director of Research, Graduate School of Journalism, City University London, UK

Contents

Introduction: The Many Boundaries of Journalism Matt Carlson

Part I: Professionalism, Norms and Boundaries
1. Out of Bounds: Professional Norms as Boundary Markers — Jane B. Singer
2. Nothing But The Truth: Redrafting the Journalistic Boundary of Verification — Alfred Hermida
3. Divided we stand: Blurred Boundaries in Argentine Journalism — Adriana Amado and Silvio Waisbord
4. The Wall Becomes a Curtain: Revisiting Journalism’s News-Advertising Boundary — Mark Coddington
5. Creating Proper Distance through Networked Infrastructure: Examining Google Glass for Evidence of Moral, Journalistic Witnessing — Mike Ananny
6. Hard News/Soft News: The Hierarchy of Genres and the Boundaries of the Profession — Helle Sjøvaag
7. Internal Boundaries: The Stratification of the Journalistic Collective — Jenny Wiik

Part II: Encountering Non-Journalistic Actors in Newsmaking
8. Journalism Beyond the Boundaries: the Collective Construction of News Narratives — David Domingo and Florence Le Cam
9. Redrawing Borders from Within: Commenting on News Stories as Boundary Work — Sue Robinson
10. Resisting Epistemologies of User-Generated Content? Cooptation, Segregation and the Boundaries of Journalism — Karin Wahl-Jorgensen
11. NGOs as Journalistic Entities: The Possibilities, Problems and Limits of Boundary Crossing — Matthew Powers
12. Drawing Boundary Lines Between Journalism and Sociology, 1895-1999 — C.W. Anderson
Epilogue: Studying Boundaries of Journalism: Where Do We Go From Here? — Seth C. Lewis

Routledge Site
Amazon
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