Following their major project with BBC World Service during the London 2012 Olympic Games, Marie Gillespie and Ben O'Loughlin have published a set of research articles in the open-access audience research journal Participations. The special section is entitled, 'Tweeting the Olympics: International broadcasting soft power and social media'. It began when Gillespie and O'Loughlin coordinated a team to design Twitter research to evalute how the BBC was engaging audiences during the 2012 Games in Arabic, Russian, Persian and English language services. This evolved into a broader set of studies of television and digital media, of soft power and public diplomacy, and stretched to cover the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. We hope the research will encourage others to think about how they study global media events.
We are delighted that a range of young scholars have published research papers below, including the New Political Communication Unit's Billur Aslan and James Dennis. Thanks to the editor Martin Barker and to Anne Barnsdale, Jemma Ahmed and Mohammad Ziyadah at the BBC. We hope you enjoy the articles.
Gillespie, Marie & Ben O’Loughlin:
Burchell, Kenzie & Ben O’Loughlin, Marie Gillespie & Eva Nieto McAvoy:
Dennis, James, Marie Gillespie & Ben O’Loughlin:
Procter, Rob, Alex Voss & Ilia Lvov:
Willis, Alistair, Ali Fisher & Ilia Lvov:
Voss, Alex & Marzieh Asgari-Targhi:
Aslan, Billur, James Dennis & Ben O’Loughlin:
Aslanyan, Anna & Marie Gillespie:
Hutchings, Stephen Marie Gillespie, Ilya Yablokov, Ilia Lvov & Alexander Voss:
The NPCU's Ben O'Loughlin and the LSE/New York University's Richard Sennett are the keynote speakers for the conference Negotiating (In)Visibility: Managing Attention in the Digital Sphere convened by the Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations, Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona on 4-5 June 2015. The programme is available here.
Ben's talk is entitled, The Shadow People: The Subject of Global Social Order? He will argue that the idea of 'the people' is being invoked by leaders of technology and foreign ministries at the same historical moment that 'people' are making themselves visible and present via ICT. However, locating who 'the people' are is problematic. What may be happening is that the great powers are using different conceptions of 'the people' strategically to advance their competing visions of global order. The people are not quite in sight - they're a shadow, invoked as a locus of hope or anxiety, or flitting into view during crises. It is in that half-light that political struggle is occurring, the post-Cold War 'great game' that will determine the course of the Twenty-First Century.
The first issue of Social Media and Society, Zizi Papacharissi’s new journal, has just published. It’s a terrific collection of over 50 short Manifesto pieces written by editorial board members.
As she writes in her editorial, our brief from Zizi for this Manifesto Issue was unusual:
I asked potential contributors to think about what social media means to them, what it should mean, what it could be, and what they do not want to see it become. But beyond that, I left it open for people to be as spontaneous, unorthodox, formal, personal, or scholarly as they wanted to be. I wanted people to write about whatever they may have been yearning to write about but had no previous outlet to do so in—as long as it pertained to the broad topic of social media and society.
My piece in the issue is entitled “The Social Media Maneuver.” Here’s the abstract:
The term “social media” is the product of diverse strategies of discursive colonization and boundary drawing. It is a contested concept, one that implies digital media logics of activism, interactivity, exuberance, community-building, diversity, pluralism, horizontality, and free expression, but also one used by those in the fields of news, entertainment, politics, and commerce, who constantly seek to fix and freeze its understanding in ways that suit their own interests and identities.
Shawn Powers and Ben O'Loughlin have published a commentary article in Media, War & Conflict entitled The Syrian data glut: Rethinking the role of information in conflict. Based on their recent work on Syria and the potential role of media in conflict resolution, they argue that the free flow of information can in some cases decrease the chances of peace. This contradicts centuries of thought concerning the role of information as leading to cooperation, trust and shared understanding. One potential avenue to improve the prospects of peace may be to map areas where people are getting on - where social relations are stable and markets and infrastructure are functioning. Instead of crisis mapping, why not look through the other end of the telescope and map peace? If we can explain why social relations do continue to function, it may be possible to build out from those areas.
Read the article for free here.
On Tuesday 19th May Akil Awan will be speaking at the L'après Charlie – Reflecting on Freedom(s), Religion, and Security conference hosted by the School of Public Policy at Central European University, Budapest. Akil will address media freedoms, security, and religious identities in the post-Charlie Hebdo context.
- 9.15 – 9.30 Welcoming Remarks
- 9.30 – 11.15 Discussion Panel 1. Freedom of expression: what to say or not to say?
- 11.45 – 13.15 Discussion Panel 2. Media freedoms: between the state, money and security
- 14.15 -15.45 Discussion Panel 3. The role of religion(s): what place for Islam in Europe?
- 15.45 Concluding Remarks – Lessons from Charlie? Marie-Pierre Granger & Hervé Ferrage (Director, Institut français de Budapest)
On Wednesday 13th May Ben O'Loughlin will present at Newcastle University's Politics Department Seminar Series, reflecting on the recent Parliamentary debate on soft power and Britain's role in the world:
Title: Soft Power Over Who, For What? The National Interest after the New Public Diplomacy
Place: Research Beehive Room 221
All welcome. The seminar is organised by Dr. Simon Philpott: Simon.Philpott@ncl.ac.uk
Mary Rouse, a political science major from Charlotte, North Carolina, will study strategic narratives in the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London, as she works toward our MSc graduate degree in media, power and public affairs.
Mary moves to the United Kingdom in September 2015 for our graduate program, funded through a Fulbright U.S. Student Award.
The prestigious international fellowship will help continue her ongoing work on “strategic narratives,” which, broadly defined, are the stories leaders tell about the international system, state identity and policies.
Mary has conducted research under the mentorship of Professor Laura Roselle, a leading international scholar on strategic narratives. Professor Roselle is the co-author of the book Strategic Narratives with Ben O'Loughlin and Alister Miskimmon. Mary hopes to eventually join the foreign service through the U.S. Department of State.
“As an aspiring diplomat, this master’s program will allow me to build on my undergraduate research pertaining to political communication while gaining a broader understanding of the media landscape that shapes our increasingly interconnected world,” Mary told Elon. “I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to study at Royal Holloway, University of London, among scholars pioneering the idea of strategic narratives in the international context necessary for successful public diplomacy.”
The New Political Communication Unit will host an invite-only workshop on 14 April 2015 on the theme, The End of the Material Archive? The workshop stems from Andrew Hoskins' ongoing project Archives of War funded by the AHRC.
The workshop is intended as a provocation to address the challenges of dealing with the transformations in scale and complexity of records with the transition to the digital and how this might shape future history.
Key issues include:
The technological, security and general resource issues of handling digital records.
The impact of the loss of the subliminal context of paper on how records are searched, found, lost.
The cultural devaluation of paper (and its worth for retention) in light of the digital move.
Changing Military/Government/Public/National Archive expectations on what should be accessible to them and how and when.
The impact of the shift from the 30 to the 20 year rule in shaping the above.
The day features presentations from the Historical Branch (Army), The National Archive, and scholars Michael Moss (Northumbria), Elizabeth Shepherd (UCL), Catherine Moriarty (Brighton) and Debra Ramsey (Glasgow).
The April 2015 issue of Media, War & Conflict is out. Please find the table of contents below. Thanks as ever to the legion of anonymous reviewers who undertake peer-review for the journal.
April 2015 8(1) issue:
In the final Departmental Seminar of the academic year, we look ahead and discuss the 2015 General Elections. Nicholas Allen, Kaat Smets and Cristian Vaccari from the Department of Politics and International Relations, will participate in a round table discussion which starts with a short presentation by all three of them. Kaat Smets will talk about trends in voter turnout generally and youth voter turnout in particular, Cristian Vaccari will discuss the latest trends in media coverage of the election and the campaign, and Nicholas Allen will shed light on political leaders and the coalition. The last part of the round table discussion, which is chaired by Amy Smith (PhD Candidate at the NPCU), consists of a Q&A session.
The Tuesday Seminar starts at 5.15pm in FW101. If FW101 turns out to be too small to accommodate all guests we will move to the Founders Lecture Theatre.