Seth Lewis

Seth C. Lewis, Ph.D., is the founding holder of the Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. For 2019-2020, he is on research leave at the University of Oxford as a visiting fellow with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. He is also a fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, an affiliate fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, and Vice Chair of the Journalism Studies Division of the International Communication Association.

His research focuses on the social implications of emerging technologies, with an emphasis on what such dynamics mean for journalism—for how news is made and how people make sense of it in their everyday lives.

During the past decade, he has been a leader in studying innovations in digital journalism, both in examining developments in journalistic practices as well as in introducing new conceptual frameworks for making sense of change. In 2009, he co-organized one of the first studies of journalists’ use of social media, in an article that has become the most-cited paper in the 20-year history of Journalism Studies (Lasorsa, Lewis, & Holton, 2012). Since that time, Lewis’ research has examined innovations and dynamics in areas such as digital audience analytics/metrics, open innovation processes, and computer programming and software development, as well as the role and influence of nonprofit foundations in shaping news innovation (see Google Scholar for a complete list of papers).

Lewis’ present work in journalism studies focuses on three areas. First, he examines the lived experience of news in everyday life, seeking to understand how journalism might better serve social needs and address inequalities. Second, he studies threats to the press as institution, including harassment of journalists, toward better understanding the consequences of journalism under duress and evolving relationships between journalists and audiences. Third, he explores the interplay of human and machine in news and media work, with the aim of better assessing the social implications of algorithms, automation, and artificial intelligence.

From a conceptual standpoint, Lewis and colleagues have proposed a model for interpreting the boundaries of journalism (Carlson & Lewis, 2015) as well as the boundaries of journalism studies as a field of inquiry (Carlson, Robinson, Lewis, & Berkowitz, 2018). Lewis and colleagues also have developed a framework for envisioning the interplay of social actors and technological actants in media organizations (Lewis & Westlund, 2015), with an emphasis on what such approaches mean for fostering and evaluating innovation in media and journalism (Westlund & Lewis, 2014). Additionally, he and his collaborators have advanced the emerging study of human-machine communication to consider its application to automation and journalism (Lewis, Guzman, & Schmidt, 2019) as well as “communicative AI” more broadly (Guzman & Lewis, 2019).

In all, Lewis has published some 60 journal articles and book chapters, and is co-editor (with Matt Carlson) of the book Boundaries of Journalism: Professionalism, Practices and Participation (Routledge, 2015). He is a two-time winner of the International Communication Association’s award for Outstanding Article of the Year in Journalism Studies — in 2016 for the article “Actors, Actants, Audiences, and Activities in Cross-Media News Work,” and in 2013 for “The Tension Between Professional Control and Open Participation: Journalism and its Boundaries,” as well as an honorable mention distinction in 2014 for “Open Source and Journalism: Toward New Frameworks for Imagining News Innovation.”

Lewis is on the boards of many journals, including New Media & Society, International Journal of Press/Politics, Journalism, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, and Social Media + Society. He is a frequent reviewer for funding agencies around the world, and has lectured at leading universities internationally.

Previously, he was an associate professor and Mitchell V. Charnley Faculty Fellow at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, held a visiting appointment with Stanford University’s Program in Science, Technology & Society, and was a Fulbright Scholar to Spain. He has a Ph.D. from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, an M.B.A. from Barry University, and a B.A. in Communications from Brigham Young University.

Beginning as a 16-year-old reporter for The Outlook in Gresham, Oregon, Lewis worked as a journalist for several news organizations, including as Assistant Sports Editor for The Miami Herald.