O'Loughlin speaking at Streets To Screens symposium, Goldsmiths

Ben O'Loughlin is one of the speakers at the symposium Streets to Screens: Mediating Conflict Through Digital Networks on 7th November 2014 at Goldsmiths, University of London. The symposium is on the topic of mediating conflict through digital networks

  • What role do networked eyewitnesses, activists and citizen journalists play in conflict communication today? 
  • What are the challenges faced by those mediating conflict online?
  • In what ways are social media content produced within the zone of conflict shaping the coverage produced by news organisations?
  • What are the implications of these forms of reportage for eyewitnesses, activists, citizen journalists, perpetrators, NGOs, journalists, news media, audiences and global publics?

Speakers Include

Andrew Hoskins, University of Glasgow

Ben O'Loughlin, Royal Holloway

Sam Gregory, WITNESS

Liam Stack, New York Times

Claire Wardle, UNHCR

Stuart Allan, Cardiff University

Malachy Browne, Storyful

Lilie Chouliaraki, LSE

Tickets are FREE but registration is required. For more information please visit: 


For more information, please contact Holly Steel at has502@york.ac.uk

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 11:39AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Soft power panel at CRESC Annual Conference - Power, Culture and Social Framing

Ben O'Loughlin is part of a panel kicking off this year's CRESC Annual Conference in Manchester on 3rd September 2015. The panel, Soft Power and its Critiques, also features Marie Gillespie and Robin Brown, two experts on international communication and public diplomacy.

The aim of this panel is to offer a range of critical perspectives on contemporary conceptions of soft power as well as questioning how soft power strategies are applied in practice:

  • How are users 'engaged' by soft power initiatives?
  • To what extent is soft power a global concept?
  • How do governments attempt to harness and use soft power?
  • How has British soft power evolved from an analogue to a digital world?

The panel addresses the following critical questions:

What’s new about soft power? How does it differ from older forms of 'cultural imperialism'?

Why are European powers disinvesting in media/public diplomacy and soft power initiatives at a time when rising powers are investing? Are the kinds of values that have featured prominently in western soft power strategies (tolerance, pluralism, cultural diversity, impartiality) losing some of their leverage?

Is soft power just another stage in the advance of Public Relations as the art form for politics par excellence? What does ‘power’ look like beyond the nation state? How are soft power strategies affected by the rise of transnational and supranational communities beyond the nation on one hand, and of multiple diasporas within nation states on the other hand?

If we wish to attend, please register here.

O'Loughlin is former Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power, which published its final report earlier this year, while Gillespie has just published a new report examining how the BBC World Service and British Council are using digital media to fulfil their cultural diplomacy functions. Robin Brown is completing a new comparative history of public diplomacy.

Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 01:58PM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

O'Loughlin lead editor at Media, War & Conflict

Ben O'Loughlin will be lead editor of the journal Media, War & Conflict for the next 12 months, taking over from Prof. Barry Richards. The journal has enjoyed a marked upswing in the quality and quantity of submissions over the past year and the editorial team have a number of initiatives to take the journal a step forward again.

The journal recently moved to Online First allowing articles to be published immediately ahead of their inclusion in formal issues. There are some great pieces by the likes of Stuart Allan, Shawn Powers and Guy Golan available here.

For enquiries about submitting to the journal please contact Ben.OLoughlin@rhul.ac.uk.

The journal's current book review editor is Theo Mazumdar at University of Southern California. For enquires about reviews please contact Theo at bmazumda@usc.edu.

Posted on Monday, July 7, 2014 at 01:27PM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

20 June: Akil Awan to speak on 'Drivers of Violent Extremism & Radicalisation Online' at Workshop organised by GPSG/PSA & the Politics & Media Research Group at Bournemouth University.

Dr Akil Awan will be speaking this week at a workshop on 'Political Violence and Extremism in Greece and in Europe' organised by The Greek Politics Specialist Group (GPSG) of the Political Studies Association (PSA) in conjunction with the Politics & Media Research Group at Bournemouth University.

Akil will be presenting a keynote on 'Radicalisation Online', where he will discuss his work on the role of the Internet and Social Media on the growth of violent extremism. He will be exploring the problematic linkage between words online and actions offline, as well as addressing the simplistic and false dichotomy of the virtual and real world that such discussions are often predicated on. He will also take part in a round-table discussion on the 'Drivers of violent extremism'.

Workshop of the Greek Politics Specialist Group (GPSG) of the Political Studies Association (PSA) in association with the Politics & Media Research Group at Bournemouth University.

Political Violence and Extremism in Greece and in Europe

Date: Friday 20 june 2014, 09:300–18:00

Canada Water Library

Programme here
Posted on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 03:51PM by Registered CommenterAkil Awan | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Most political parties completely fail to respond to email enquiries, wasting an opportunity for politicians to reconnect with voters online

Voters seeking to connect with political parties are likely to be sorely disappointed if they try contacting a party by email. This is the key finding of new research by the New Political Communication Unit's Cristian Vaccari, published in the Journal of Information Technology & Politics. Cristian tested parties in seven countries by sending email enquiries, both asking about political issues and offering to volunteer. The response rate was staggering, and similar across all countries: the majority of emails received no specific response from the parties whatsoever. In this post he shares his detailed results.

If parties and politicians want to reconnect with citizens, they need to be there when and where they need them. As more and more people get online and the internet becomes increasingly embedded in citizens’ everyday lives, politicians are faced with increasing challenges and opportunities not just to speak to citizens, but to listen and respond to them. In spite of the enthusiasm for social media and mobile applications, email is still the most viable and inclusive channel through which citizens can interact with politicians. According to Ofcom’s Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2014, 90% of UK internet users send and receive emails at least quarterly, which makes email the second most common activity after general browsing (91%). Age-related differences in the use of email are rather mild, with 90% of the 16-24 year-olds and 77% of the 65+ doing that at least quarterly. Social media, by contrast, are used by 69% of UK internet users and are substantially more popular among younger than older users.

Email is thus a very good example of what Rasmus Kleis Nielsen has called “mundane internet tools”. These tools are less sophisticated than other digital artifacts, but precisely for this reason they can be more useful for campaigning and mobilization to the extent that they reach broader audiences and are less difficult for them to use. Politicians ignoring emails from voters do so at their peril. A study of US citizens found that ‘candidates and their online campaigns […] risk giving participants a negative impression by not replying to email messages’, as ‘The sender of the message feels slighted if after sending the message no response or feedback is given back to the sender.’

One would expect, then, that parties and candidates in the UK and across Western democracies should pay considerable attention to incoming emails and respond to them quickly and thoroughly. After all, politicians spend a lot of time, resources, and effort in trying to capture voters’ attention, so they should cherish the opportunity to address them when they are requested to do so. However, incoming emails also pose serious challenges for political organizations: first, they take time and effort to respond to, especially if volumes are high; second, answers need to be carefully crafted, as any reply that is inaccurate, offensive, or simply off message can easily be forwarded to the media or political competitors and cause unwanted embarrassment; third, research shows that politicians are reluctant to interact with voters online because they are afraid to lose control of their message, and email exchanges initiated by citizens are less controlled by politicians than, say, email newsletters that parties and candidates send periodically to their subscribers.

To evaluate the merits of these different considerations, I conducted a longitudinal study of 194 parties and presidential candidates or party leaders in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The study covered each national election that occurred in these countries between 2007 and 2013, including European Parliament elections and Presidential primaries in the US. In order to assess political actors’ e-mail responsiveness, two fictitious e-mails were sent to each of them from accounts coming from their countries and writing in their official languages. One email requested information on the party’s tax policies, the other pledged to be willing to volunteer for the campaign. I then recorded whether and how quickly these emails were answered, excluding those replies that appeared to be automated. A total of 608 email exchanges (304 issue questions and 304 volunteer pledges) were considered.

The results, which are illustrated in a recently published special issue of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, show that most parties and politicians failed to respond to both emails: 65% of the issue questions and 59% of the volunteer pledges elicited no specific answer whatsoever. By contrast, only 16% issue requests and 21% volunteer pledges were replied to within one business day, with another 15% and 17%, respectively, receiving a response within four business days, and 4% and 3% within one week ore more. British parties, which I emailed in 2009 (European elections) and 2010 (general elections), answered only 8 out of 21 issue inquiries and 5 out of 21 volunteer pledges—overall, an even poorer showing than their counterparts in other countries.

What factors made political actors more or less likely to respond? A multivariate analysis considering a variety of structural and organizational factors found that:

  • Party leaders are less likely to respond than both party organizations and presidential candidate campaigns—as parties’ and presidential candidates’ online communication apparatuses tend to be more developed than those of party leaders in parliamentary democracies;
  • Parties that receive more votes are more responsive to issue inquiries, but not volunteer pledges—a reflection of the fact that larger parties tend to be better resourced both financially and organizationally, but also that smaller parties are motivated not to waste opportunities to recruit new volunteers;
  • Political actors belonging to the Green and Socialist and Democratic party families respond to more emails than the rest—possibly reflecting their different organizational cultures and approaches to voter engagement;
  • Political actors competing in elections where turnout is lower are more likely to answer both types of emails—a sign perhaps of the fact that they understand that they cannot take voter involvement for granted and should seize any opportunity to make a connection.

Why, then, do parties and candidates fail to respond to citizens trying to contact them through the easiest and most popular online tool? Answering large numbers of personal messages that require individual consideration requires time and manpower which any campaign is hard pressed to employ as parsimoniously and effectively as possible. In particular,  parties may be more likely to answer emails from people they know than from the complete strangers that wrote to them in my experiment. They may also think that answering emails such as the ones that were sent for this research may not be absolutely crucial to inform and engage their online audiences—after all, if they want to learn about their tax positions they can Google them or browse their websites, and if they want to get involved in the campaign they can sign up as online volunteers on their online engagement hubs. Finally, as my study shows, not all parties and campaigns are equal in their (lack of) responsiveness to emails, and progressive political actors in particular seem to be more keen on engaging in these exchanges than the rest.

Politicians have an understandably hard time meeting the demands of a hyper-connected society and ever-hungry media. However, their silence to citizens’ inquiries can be deafening and generate disillusionment and alienation among those voters who, instead of calling it quits and giving up on politics, still strive to engage with their representatives and hold them accountable on their own terms. My study shows they still have a long way to go.

Note: This column is reposted from Democratic Audit

Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 09:44AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

June 10-11, 2014: Andrew Chadwick Speaking at University of Oslo Conference on New Trends in the Public Sphere

Professor Andrew Chadwick is speaking next week at the University of Oslo’s conference on New Trends in the Public Sphere.

The conference brings together scholars working in the fields of sociology, politics, communications and will be held at Åsgårdstrand in Vestfold. The University of Oslo’s Institute for Social Research is currently engaged in a multi-strand research programme on Social Media and the New Public Sphere: Consequences for Citizenship and Democracy.

Andrew’s talk is entitled "The New Public Sphere in Flow: Media Hybridity and Political Power." The themes will be based on his recent book The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power and will also introduce new research, including an analysis of the mediation of the Edward Snowden NSA leak.

Details of this conference, which is a closed event, are here.

Posted on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 08:31AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Chua to present at LSE PhD symposium

NPCU research student Puay-Hoe Chua will present at this week at the LSE Media and Communications PhD Symposium 2014: Power in Media and Communications: Change or Continuity? He will talk about the nature of legitimacy in East Asian media-political systems, using analysis of the Asian Barometer Survey to contextualise how political communication operates in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. This is drawn from his ongoing PhD research. His paper is titled, “Change or continuity in political communication control? A comparison of 4 Sinic societies.”

LSE Media and Communications PhD Symposium 2014

Power in Media and Communications: Change or Continuity?

Date: Thursday 5 June 2014, 09:00–18:00

Graham Wallas Room | 5th floor Old Building

Programme here.

Posted on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 04:06PM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Strategic narratives discussion on tech radio show Hearsay Culture

After airing an interview last month with the NPCU's Ben O'Loughlin and co-author Laura Roselle about their book Strategic Narratives: Communication Power and the New World Order, the KZSU-FM Stanford University radio interview show and podcast Hearsay Culture now has that interview available as a podcast here

Hearsay Culture has been interviewing communications scholars since its founding, including Manuel Castells, Ethan Zuckerman and Lawrence Lessig, and its podcast archive is well worth exploring. The host, Dave Levine, describes its audience as 'techies and IP geeks' in California but the subjects addressed range across the field of political communication. 

Posted on Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 08:08PM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

5 June: Smith and Soo to present at University of Kent Politics graduate conference

On 5 June 2014 Amy Smith and Nikki Soo will present papers at the conference Politics: The State of the Discipline at the University of Kent. The conference is organised on behalf of the ESRC's South-East Doctoral Training Centre and provides an opportunity for early-stage PhDs to present their initial research to peers and staff at other universities. The abstracts of Amy and Nikki are below. Thanks to the University of Kent for organising the event. If you wish to attend, contact them at: polirsedtc@kent.ac.uk

Amy Smith: Hitting a Moving Target: Controlling the news agenda during elections in the new media environment

This paper will argue that existing models of agenda-setting are not applicable to political communication during elections in the ‘internet-age’. Seminal models, such as Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model and Bennett’s indexing hypothesis, no longer accurately reflect the power relationships between the three main actor groups in political communication: political elites, traditional media, and citizens. An alternative model will be presented, drawing on Andrew Chadwick’s theory of the hybrid media system and Cristian Vaccari’s analysis of citizen’s use of ‘digital politics’ in western democracies. There will be a discussion of the implications for power relationships in the new media environment, and the normative dimension provided by our discipline. Finally, this paper will show how the new model of agenda-setting will be utilised during the 2015 United Kingdom General Election.

A core assumption of political communication is that political and media elites will look to control the news agenda during an election campaign. However, with newer media and digital technologies, citizens are able to interact more efficiently with both elites; this alters the power dynamics between actors. As scholars within the discipline we need to analyse agenda-setting during elections from a fresh perspective. This paper acknowledges the impact of citizens through online tools and recognises the strategies that elites use to retain control of message dissemination. It argues for a reconceptualization of agenda-setting which realistically reflects power relations as they are played out during elections, and shows how this will be demonstrated during the 2015 United Kingdom General Election.

Contact: amy.smith.2011@rhul.ac.uk

Nikki Soo: Digital Media and Democratic Hopes: A Study of ICT Impacts

The pervasive presence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has been deemed by many such as Karlsen to be a driving force for change. As a hierarchy-free, interactive and global medium rooted in multiple information sources, the Internet and ICTs have allowed an expanding number of users unrivalled opportunities to access information as well as politically express themselves through new avenues. Available research reveal that ICTs have precipitated a paradigm shift in contemporary politics but these studies are predominantly focused on Western liberal democracies.

Recognising this caveat, this paper proposes to inquire and assess the interactions between ICTs, political parties and civil society in non-democratic Asian nations. Singapore will be used as a case study. Democracy eludes this island state despite high levels of Internet penetration, economic development and a well-educated population. To understand if ICTs have made an impact in Singapore’s road to democracy, the following methodology will be employed. Vanhanen’s participatory democracy theory will be synthesised with the theory of mass responsive democratisation to generate a causal path. A qualitative study of three indicators (political institutions, political culture and media system) will be carried out alongside several interviews before being evaluated against the hypothesis. This research hopes to contribute towards democratic transition studies revolving around the potential of the Internet, generating significant analytical and practical ramifications in subsequent ICT-related democratisation studies.

Contact: Nikki.Soo.2011@live.rhul.ac.uk

Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 09:33AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

4 June - Communicating Contested Political Histories: Memory, Truth and Denial in the Srebrenica Genocide

The Srebrenica massacre in July 1995 was the single greatest atrocity on European soil since the Second World War, during which Bosnian Serb forces systematically massacred more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in a crime judged by the International Court of Justice at The Hague to be an act of genocide. As we approach the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica, the terrible events of the past continue to haunt us – not just through the ongoing discovery of mass grave sites in Tomasica and elsewhere, but also through the pernicious denials of ethnic cleansing and genocide, and the rise of revisionist history that has taken hold in parts of the Balkans. 

​How do we communicate and remember contested political histories, particularly those involving extreme  violence? How do we commemorate these tragic events without first achieving agreement on the narratives of what took place? How do we arrive at 'reconciliation' when the 'truth' itself is so polarising?

This event seeks to address these issues surrounding remembrance of Srebrenica, by discussing survivor testimonies, the painstaking process of establishing facts and truth, and the contesting of genocide denial and revisionist history.


  • ​Dr Akil N Awan, Lecturer in Political Violence and Terrorism, Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • Adam Boys, Director of International Programs, International Committee for Missing Persons (ICMP).
  • Muhamed Durakovic, Srebrenica survivor, and Head of Libya programme at the ICMP.
  • Dr. Eric Gordy, Senior Lecturer in Politics of Southeast Europe at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) of University College London.

Date/Time: 4 June 2014 6:30pm

Location: Room 261, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU

Map/Directions: http://senatehouselibrary.ac.uk/visiting-the-library/how-to-find-us/

Generously supported by the Humanities & Arts Research Centre (HARC) at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Remembering Srebrenica.

Posted on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 10:43AM by Registered CommenterAdministrator | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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