New Trends in Citizen Media: Disability Media

Citizen media have flourished and taken on new forms on the internet, and people with disabilities have been among the pioneers in this area as they sought to increase their agency in how disability is represented and aimed to create media that are not only accessible, but also relevant to people with a wide range of disabilities. I explored the evolution of “Disability Media” — media created by people with disabilities with a view to presenting distinctive disability viewpoints on key issues and experiences relevant to the disability community — and their relationship with ever changing technologies in an entry in the recently published Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media.

There is an incredible amount of grassroots innovation in today’s disability media, and this new entry seeks to capture and critically discuss the work of these citizen media activists in conjunction with long term trends in media representations and technological evolution. Here’s a short summary of the entry (contact me for a pre-print copy of the full text):

Disability and disability-related issues are often ignored or misrepresented in mainstream news and popular media. Disability scholars have also argued that initiatives launched by major news organizations to provide better representations of disability, such as the BBC’s Ouch! website, have fallen short of expectations to incorporate the perspective of persons with disabilities effectively (Riley 2005). In addition, traditional forms of media are not fully accessible to Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, nor to people with different disabilities including, to name a few, blind and vision-impaired people, people with intellectual disabilities, and language processing issues. To address these problems, disability communities and Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) have built alternative media outlets with a view to providing accessible news coverage, enhancing the visibility of disability issues, and contrasting ableist and stereotypical representations of disability both within news and popular culture (Ellis and Goggin 2015a; Haller, 2010). While historically most of these efforts were oriented toward the provision of information to the disability community and meeting its various accessibility needs, the proliferation of digital media has enabled exponential growth in the disability media sector. Dozens of new disability news websites, blogs, podcasts, sign language video services on YouTube and other media are created every year, and can reach ever expanding audiences (Ellis and Goggin 2015b). Importantly, many of these outlets seek to have an impact beyond the disability community and influence legacy media and non-disabled audiences more broadly.

This entry provides a brief history of disability media initiatives and reviews their relationship with the changing technologies and organizational structures that support them. In particular, grassroots projects that seek to empower aspiring disabled writers, reporters, and videographers and augment the visibility of their content, such as Rooted in Rights and The Disability Visibility Project, are presented. The entry discusses how these initiatives, which follow in the footsteps of community-based projects that equipped people with disabilities with key journalistic skills (Thorsen, Jackson and Luce 2015) and build on the use of unmediated storytelling in disability rights advocacy (Trevisan, 2017), empower new disabled voices to challenge the status quo, enrich news and popular culture with more diverse disability representations, and can become catalysts for the participation of the disability community in key civic moments such as elections and important policy debates.

Doing Inclusive Research: Tips for Accessible Focus Groups

Doing Inclusive Research: Tips for Accessible Focus Groups

I love running focus groups, both from a research and human perspective, but traditionally this method has been far from universally accessible. For example, traditional focus groups present important challenges for people with communication disabilities and disorders, which currently are over 10% of the U.S. adult population.

As someone who cares deeply about the inclusion of traditionally under-represented voices in research, I think there’s a lot that we can do to re-think methodologies to make them more accessible. In an article I published in the journal Qualitative Research earlier this year, I drew on my experience organizing, moderating, and analyzing focus groups to discuss low-cost, relatively straightforward, and flexible solutions to ensure that people with communication disabilities and disorders are equally as empowered as any other participant to contribute their perspectives, opinions, and experiences to these studies. While this article can only begin to scratch the surface of this issue, I hope it will help us start a conversation about how to adapt and innovate qualitative research in all fields to make it simultaneously more inclusive and more valid.

You can find the full article here (get in touch directly for a pre-print version, if you like):

Trevisan, F. (2020) Making focus groups accessible and inclusive for people with communication disabilities: a research note. Qualitative Research, published online before print.

And here’s the abstract for a quick preview:

Participating in focus groups can be challenging for people with communication disabilities. Given that more than 1 in 10 adults has a communication disability, focus groups that overlook their needs exclude a large part of the population. This research note makes a unique contribution toward creating more inclusive focus groups by discussing a variety of strategies employed in a recent study of political participation among Americans with disabilities that included a high proportion of participants with communication disorders. Universal design principles can support the “mainstreaming” of communication disabilities in focus group research, contributing to more inclusive and representative social science scholarship.

New Report: U.S. Election Analysis 2020

91 short and accessible articles from 115 leading media and politics researchers from around the world: I’m very proud to have co-edited the U.S. Election Analysis 2020: Voters, Media, and the Campaign together with a stellar team of colleagues from Bournemouth University (Dan Jackson, Darren Lilleker, and Einar Thorsen) and Kent State University (Danielle Coombs).

Published less than two weeks after the November 3, 2020 election, this volume includes immediate reaction and analysis pieces – including research findings and new theoretical insights – that help readers understand the campaign and its significance for the future of American democracy. U.S. Election Analysis 2020: Voters, Media, and the Campaign is a valuable resource for researchers, educators, journalists, and policy-makers that is freely accessible and organized around seven main topics, including:

  1. Policy & political context
  2. Voters
  3. Candidates & the campaign
  4. News & journalism
  5. Social Media
  6. Popular culture & public critique
  7. Democracy in crisis

You can find our introduction with a brief overview of the contents of each section here.

We’re grateful to the Center for Comparative Politics and Media Research at Bournemouth University, the APSA Information Technology and Politics Section, the Political Studies Association’s Media and Politics Group, and the IPSA Political Communication Research Committee for their support.

“Sport Communication and Social Justice” Special Issue Published

C&S CoverThe double special issue of Communication & Sport I co-edited with Dan Jackson (Bournemouth University), Emma Pullen (Loughborough University), and Mike Silk (Bournemouth University) is out! We’re very proud to include thirteen top-notch articles that discuss the nexus of communication, sport, and social justice as it relates to race, gender, disability and more in this double special issue. In the introductory article, we sketch out an ambitious agenda for this nascent field of inquiry and hope this will help foster innovative intellectual pursuits at the crossroads of scholarship, practice, and activism.

Check out the special issue here. Read our introductory article here.

New Article on Social Media, Disability, and Mental Health in Elections

SM+S coverI’m delighted to share my latest open access article ‘Do you want to be a well-informed citizen, or do you want to be sane?’ Social Media, Disability, Mental Health and Political Marginality, which was published earlier this month in Social Media + Society. The article reviews evidence from focus groups with voters with disabilities to explore their experience with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. From this, social media platforms emerge as both empowering tools and sources of mental health problems for this traditionally marginalized group in an increasingly polarized political context such as the U.S.

This article is part of a forthcoming special issue on Social Media and Marginality expertly edited by Katy Pearce, Amy Gonzales, and Brooke Focault-Welles.

Here is a copy of the abstract, for the full open access article click here.

This article examines the experiences of people with disabilities, a traditionally marginalized group in US politics, with social media platforms during the 2016 presidential election. Using focus groups with participants with a wide range of disabilities, the significance of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook is discussed. Results highlight ambivalent experiences with these platforms, which support some elements of political inclusion (more accessible and more relevant election information) but at the same time also exacerbate aspects of marginality (stress, anxiety, isolation). Four coping strategies devised by participants to address digital stress (self-censorship, unfollowing/unfriending social media contacts, signing off, and taking medication) are illustrated. The relationship between these contrasting findings, social media design and affordances, as well as potential strategies to eliminate an emerging trade-off between discussing politics online and preserving mental health and social connectedness for people with disabilities are discussed.

New Article on ‘Story Banks’ in Grassroots Advocacy

4.HERO-size-2-1024x252“Mobilizing Personal Narratives: The Rise of Digital ‘Story Banking’ in U.S. Grassroots Advocacy” is a brand new article by myself, Bryan Bello (American University), Michael Vaughan (Weizenbaum Institute) and Ariadne Vromen (University of Sydney) that was recently published in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics. In this piece, which is part of a larger project on the recent evolution of digital storytelling in grassroots advocacy in both the U.S. and Australia, we offer the first definition and critical evaluation of digital story banking techniques that are increasingly popular with advocacy groups in the U.S. For a brief summary and little teaser on the full article, check out this post on the AU Center for Media and Social Impact’s blog.

Here is a copy of the abstract; for a full copy of the article click here or, if you need an open access pre-print copy, please get in touch directly:

This article interrogates digital “story banking,” a storytelling practice that has become increasingly popular among U.S. grassroots advocacy organizations. Through the examination of LinkedIn data and in-depth interviews with story banking professionals, this technique emerges as the centerpiece of the growing institutionalization, professionalization, and datafication of storytelling in progressive advocacy. Following the 2016 election, political crisis and an increasing awareness of changing information consumption patterns promoted story banking diffusion. Story banking ushers in the era of stories as data and political story on demand. Yet, political constraints currently limit story banking to a reactive approach based on news monitoring, algorithmic shortlisting of stories, and audience testing. Furthermore, an unresolved tension has emerged between the growing centralization of storytelling functions and the participatory potential of crowd-sourced story banks. The implications of these trends for progressive advocacy organizations and the groups they aim to represent are considered.

 

Call For Papers: ICA 2020 Storytelling Pre-conference

**March 2020 Update: Pre-conference Canceled**

Due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, we have regrettably decided to cancel this pre-conference. ICA will refund all the participants and attendees that registered in full (please note that refunds may take 6-8 weeks). Stay safe and healthy everyone!

**Deadline extended: abstracts due January 31**

Thank you for your interest in the ICA 2020 pre-conference on “Storytelling, Persuasion and Mobilization in the Digital Age” – to download the call for papers and submission instructions, click here.

To submit your abstract, click here

On a side note, you might be interested in checking out our latest article on “Story Banks” in U.S. advocacy organizations in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics (December 2019): “Mobilizing personal narratives: The rise of digital ‘story banking’ in U.S. grassroots advocacy”

Filippo Trevisan, Ariadne Vromen and Michael Vaughan

Google Trends: Instructions for Use on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage

Last week, I published a piece on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog about what Google Trends can tell us about televised debates and other important election moments (spoiler: not as much as some news coverage suggests). With insights from my research with Google Trends in the U.S., UK, and Italy, this article provides a useful resource on how to correctly interpret Google Trends data for journalists, campaign staff, and voters interested in knowing more about digital information flows related to the 2020 election campaigns.

European Ideas Network Summer University 2019

I’m delighted to be in San Sebastian-Donostia in the beautiful Basque Country over the next couple of days to speak at the 2019 European Ideas Network‘s Summer University. I am grateful to EIN and the European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament for extending an invitation to meet and discuss with its members about the challenges and next steps in the fight against online disinformation and “fake news” in Europe. In my talk, I will explore the factors that created a ‘perfect storm’ for the growth of disinformation, share some of my latest work on how U.S. organizations and campaigns are trying to contrast it, and offer some ideas for a more proactive approach to this problem.

Sport Communication & Social Justice Special Issue CFP

C&S CoverFollowing a very successful pre-conference at ICA 2019, submissions are now open for a special issue of Communication & Sport (2.395 impact factor) on the theme of “Sport Communication and Social Justice,” which I’m co-editing with Dan Jackson (Bournemouth University), Michael Silk (Bournemouth University), and Emma Pullen (Loughborough University).

Submissions will close on October 1st, 2019 – you can read and download a copy of the full call for papers hereManuscripts should be submitted through the journal’s Manuscript Central website.