“Brexit” on American Media

On June 23rd, 2016, a majority of Britons voted to leave the European Union (EU). In this brief analysis piece, I reflect on how news media in the United States covered this unexpected result. While American journalists sought to apply familiar templates to communicate the upcoming EU referendum to domestic audiences, they may find it difficult to do so going forward as the UK-EU negotiations move into unchartered territory. This article is part of a large report on the EU referendum, media, and voters edited by Dan Jackson, Einar Thorsen, and Dominic Wring and published by the Political Studies Association, Bournemouth University, and the University of Loughborough. You can access the full report for free here.

9th Conference of State Parties to the CRPD

This week I will attend the 9th Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at the U.N. headquarters in New York City as part of the delegation from American University’s Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP), of which I recently became Deputy Director. This year marks a particularly important occasion as it is the 10th anniversary of the CRPD. In collaboration with other partners, IDPP has prepared two side events to this conference. These include:

  • Disability and Digital Societies side event: Wednesday, June 15th, 8-9:30am, UN conference room 11 – click here to attend this side event remotely;
  • Accessible Global Governance side event: Thursday, June 16th, 6:15-8pm, UN conference room 11 – click here to attend this side event remotely.

More information about each event is available here.

Presenting at ICA 2016 Preconference

I look forward to presenting some new work on promotional tactics in disability rights advocacy at the 2016 ICA Preconference “Powers of Promotion.” The preconference, which is sponsored by ICA’s Political Communication, Popular Communication, and Public Relations sections, will be held at the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo, Japan on June 8th. You can access a copy of the program here and follow the conference on Twitter at #powersofpromotion.

Spring 2016: Teaching with Blogs

This spring semester I have integrated a blog into my Grassroots Digital Advocacy graduate course at American University. Students are blogging on tech-related events in the D.C. area, as well as reviewing the use of social media in the 2016 presidential primaries. You can read their work and find out more about the course here:

I’m not the only one teaching with blogs this semester. A group of 40 students from across AU and several faculty members traveled to New Hampshire to report on the recent primary elections in the Granite State. Check out their fantastic reports here:

Facebook Research Ethics in Northern Ireland: New Article with Paul Reilly

Paul Reilly (Information School – University of Sheffield) and I continue our collaboration on ethical challenges in online research with a new article about studying Facebook groups in post-conflict Northern Ireland in the journal Information, Communication and Society. In this article, we discuss the development of an ethical stance for the study of Facebook pages associated with the 2012 Belfast flag protests.

To access a copy of the article, click here.

New Job, New City, New Institution: American University

Earlier this month I started a new job as tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Public Communication Division at American University’s School of Communication. It’s incredibly exciting to be in Washington, DC and I received the warmest of welcomes from a fantastic group of colleagues with whom I look forward to collaborating over the coming years. Following several weeks of anticipation, teaching starts today and it’s terrific to meet the students too, who are the center of a very vibrant learning and research community here at AU. Keep an eye out for more updates from DC in the coming weeks, but now I need to run to go teach another class!

New Journal Article: Disability & Society

Disability & Society just published a new piece by myself and Charlotte Pearson (School of Social and Political Sciences/Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow) entitled “Disability Activism in the New Media Ecology: Campaigning Strategies in the Digital Era“. This work, which can be downloaded online ahead of print, explores the ways in which different disability activist groups in the UK are engaging with changing media landscapes in which both “new” and “old” forms of media interact to form public opinion and influence political decision-making. The paper focuses in particular on the case of the anti-welfare reform protests at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, in which self-advocates from Disabled People Against Cuts used both online and more traditional offline tactics to foster positive coverage of protest by traditional news media organisations.

The Ethics of Facebook Research in High-Risk Places

Paul Reilly and I recently presented a paper on the ethical challenges involved in researching social media protest in high-risk places at the “Protest Communication Ecologies” conference organised by the journal Information, Communication and Society together with City University and the University of Sassari (Italy). If you missed our session and would like to read more about our proposed typology of high-risk places and examples of ethical strategies drawn from research on Northern Ireland, you can find a copy of our presentation here.

UK 2015 Election Report – Now out!

Surprised by the result of the 2015 UK General Election? Find out what happened behind the scenes in a new report published by Bournemouth University’s Media School together with the Political Studies Association. “UK Election Analysis 2015: Media, Voters and the Campaign” can be found here. It was edited by the indefatigable Dan Jackson and Einar Thorsen, and includes contributions from 91 UK academics in the fields of communication, media studies, journalism, and political science. I contributed an overview on the UK Independence Party (UKIP)’s popularity ratings among British Google users prepared together with Paul Reilly at the University of Leicester. This considers the rise of UKIP as a popular (and populist) “brand” among wired voters (and non-voters).

Presenting at Protest Communication Ecologies Conference – June 2015

My colleague Paul Reilly (Media and Communication, University of Leicester) and I will present a joint paper at the ‘Protest Participation in Variable Communication Ecologies‘ conference, which is organised by the journal Information, Communication & Society together with the University of Sassari and will take place in Alghero, Italy between 24-26 June 2015. This event will focus on advances in contemporary protest and more broad activist repertoires at a time in which ‘established’ and ’emerging’ forms of mass media increasingly interact, providing a range of actors with enhanced opportunities to influence public decision-making, but also challenging their traditional tactics.

Our contribution will examine the ethical challenges involved in carrying out research between ‘streets’ and ‘screens’ in unstable and potentially risky political contexts, using examples drawn from Paul’s research on the use of Facebook during the 2013 Union Flag protests in Belfast, Northern Ireland.