The Google Voter: New Article in Information, Communication & Society

Earlier this month, the journal Information, Communication & Society published the paper “The Google Voter: Search Engines and Elections in the New Media Ecology,” of which I am the lead author. This article, which can be accessed freely on the journal’s website,  discusses some of the main research findings from the VoterEcology project, on which I collaborated with Profs. Andrew Hoskins (University of Glasgow) and Sarah Oates (University of Maryland, College Park), as well as Dr. Dounia Mahlouly (King’s College, London). The paper fills an important gap in our understanding of contemporary information-gathering practices and media environments that surround elections, focusing on the use of search engines by voters in the U.S. and the UK. While search engines remain the primary channel for citizens in these and other democratic countries to engage with election-related information online, there is a dearth of research about the implications of this practice. This paper combines Google Trends data with the analysis of news media coverage to shed light on the opportunities and drawbacks generated by search engine use in elections and reflects on the need to develop innovative methodologies capable of exploring the new media ecologies that are emerging from the interaction of novel and more established forms of media.

Contribution to U.S. Election 2016 Report

Colleagues at Bournemouth University’s Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community put together an amazing report about the 2016 U.S. Presidential election with 83 short contributions from 90 leading scholars in political communication, digital media, journalism, and strategic communication. I contributed one article to this report, which was released last Friday just ten days after the election. My paper (in Section 4: Diversity and division) discusses the implications of the election results for the American disability movement and for grassroots political organizing among minorities and under-represented communities more generally. This is the third report of this type to which I am able to contribute following previous ones about the 2015 UK general election and 2016 EU membership referendum. These innovative publications are available freely both online and in PDF, providing a wonderful teaching resource.

New Publication in Major Public Health Journal

A new article I co-authored together with colleagues at the University of Glasgow/MRC’s Social and Public Health Sciences Unit was just published in the journal BMJ Open. This work discusses perceptions and experiences of e-cigarettes among UK teenagers. E-cigarettes have emerged as a potential safer alternative to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes and have become popular among young people, as well as older smokers, in a number of countries in very recent years. Anti-smoking groups and public health scholars are divided on the potential benefits and dangers of e-cigarettes, and this paper seeks to inform the policy debate by shedding light on the awareness and impressions of 14-17 year olds, a key target market for e-cigarette makers as well as tobacco manufacturers. The full paper can be accessed freely here.

Talking Disability Voting Rights on Al-Jazeera

On Monday October 31st, Al-Jazeera English dedicated its current affairs program “The Stream” to discussing the issues of voting rights for Americans with disabilities in the 2016 election. I was asked to comment on the issues that disability advocates face as they try to mobilize the disability vote across the country. The main panel included a number of innovative disabled advocates, including the creators of the #CripTheVote Twitter campaign, which has sought to increase opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in the election and asked the candidates to engage with disability issues. It is great to see Al-Jazeera’s interest in this issues and I wish that more legacy media would follow in its steps.

Check out the video here.

AU IDPP Seminar: Storytelling and Digital Disability Advocacy

The Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) has launched its second seminar series on Disability, Development and Global Governance. Following an introductory session from IDPP’s director Dr. Derrick Cogburn, I was pleased to facilitate the second session in this fall’s series on Sept. 20th on the topic of personal stories in digital disability rights advocacy. You can find a brief summary of the event by clicking hereidpp-seminar_room

IDPP seminars will continue every Tuesday between 12-1:30pm in the School of International Service’s building, room 300, until December 6th. Anyone can attend. To check out the amazing line up of speakers from AU and the broader Washington, DC policy community, click here.

New Book: Disability Rights Advocacy Online – Out now!

I’m excited to announce that my book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” was released in October 2016. Both hard back and e-book versions are available from the Routledge website, as well as on Amazon and other online vendors (where it’s cheaper!).

Book Cover_2

Book cover: Disability Rights Advocacy Online

This book charts the recent digitalization of disability rights advocacy in the U.K. and the U.S., and discusses the implications of this transformation for disabled citizens and other traditionally under-represented groups. In just a few short years, disability rights groups have gone from using the Internet much less than other advocacy organizations to pioneering new uses of social media to foster a deep sense of agency and unify a very diverse community. To read a full book synopsis, click here.

APSA 2016 Presentation – Sept. 1st

I will present some of my most recent work on crowd-sourced story-centered counter-narratives as an advocacy tactic at this year’s American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA on September 1st. In this presentation, I will discuss the mechanisms that regulate story-centered counter-narratives and how these can be an important opportunity for the empowerment of politically inexperienced citizens. Click here to access the full conference program.

“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.