Mundus Journalism at ICA 2018

Find out what some members of our network are sharing at the world's largest communications conference, on in Prague this week.

2018.05.26 | Hannah Spyksma

Teresa Weikmann presenting her research at an ICA preconference - image via twitter

It's time for the International Communications Association's annual conference, and this year there is a strong turn our of Mundusians presenting research - something that's becoming a bit of a trend.

Here's a short overview of some of the work being presented in Prague by students, alumni and staff. 

Søren Lund Nielsen, 2015-2017 cohort

"Virtual hype meets reality: Users’ perception of immersive journalism"

Abstract: This study responds to recent gratifications related to experience, affect and action. Despite clear reservations about the technology, users see great potential for journalistic use. If employed responsibly, users think VR can add value to almost any journalistic production. Researchers and practitioners can benefit from this initial study of users’ impressions of and reactions to immersive journalism.

Connect with Søren about his research on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Teresa Weikmann, 2015-2017 cohort

"Suffering online: how users perceive human crises on Instagram (visual communications preconference)

The distant sufferer: Measuring spectatorship of photojournalism" (Conference paper - derived from MA thesis)

Abstract: The response of news audiences to graphic visual portrayals of distant suffering is a long-debated issue amongst media commentators, producers and researchers alike. The increasing visualization of news media makes empirical evidence on this issue more important than ever before. Recent studies of graphic images indicate that pictures have the power to mobilize people via emotions. Yet little is known about other potential reactions embedded in the theory of distant suffering, such as apathy or voyeuristic pleasure, let alone via a quantitative approach. This study uses an experiment to, for the first time, quantify overlapping roles of the spectatorship of suffering. Via cluster analysis we explore in which combinations responses of empathy, voyeurism, protest and apathy co-occur within spectators. Furthermore, exposing participants to victimizing photographs of children and adults suffering during the Syrian civil war suggests that personal characteristics of participants like gender play a larger role in the processing of distant suffering than the pictures’ content. Besides shedding light on audience perception of suffering, this study provides empirical evidence for a fuller range of potential responses to photojournalism. The results are discussed in light of ethical difficulties with the visual depiction of war and the photojournalistic profession in general.

Connect with Teresa via twitter or instagram: @teresaelenaw 

Fiona Huijie Zeng, 2013-2015 cohort

Preconference: “Articulating Voice. The Expressivity and Performativity of Media Practices” 

Abstract: Six months ago, we set out to conduct qualitative fieldwork in China, the US, and Denmark, following a tested and shared approach that allowed for comparability of media practices across culturally distinct contexts. This paper presents that particular methodological setup aimed at unravelling complicated, ubiquitously embedded, and mundane media uses and rituals as they occur in various everyday contexts. Finally, we discuss the challenges and rewards in approaching media practices through the mapping of individuals’ communicative patterns.

Ethnographers focusing on digital technologies often define their research area by the level of online or offline integration (Garcia et al. 2009), delimit their scope by focusing on specific genres of (online) communication (such as social media: Miller et al. 2016), specific media (such as smartphones: Thorhauge and Lomborg 2016), or specific contexts (such as the home: Haddon 2016). Contrary to this, we focus on mapping cross-media, cross-platform and cross-context communications in order to follow the flow of the multifarious practices that make up a person’s daily communication. As such, rather than looking at digital media in particular, online and offline contexts in isolation, or a single platform, we “follow the people” (Marcus 1995) and focus on the proliferation of ways in which people communicate one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many, many-to-one (Jensen and Helles 2017), and me-to-me.

The overall research question that the projects aim at answering is how social and cultural everyday contexts characterizing (Chinese, American, and Danish) people’s everyday life relate to different I) patterns of communication and II) uses of the Internet (as one of many ways to communicate). However, a preliminary question that needs answering before the main question can be addressed, is how to get at the situated enactment of media practices – empirically as well as analytically?

The study takes the individual user as the unit of analysis in order to understand the meaning behind individual communication motives and needs. As such, we study intermediality (Jensen 2008) on the basis of the respondent and in close relation to actual communication purposes, networks, and contexts. The approach combines recurrent interviews with 24-hour media diaries in an iterative design. The diaries are configured to the individual respondents in the sense that the report type and medium is entirely up to them and contingent on their regular media use. Hence, reports could be in the form of text messages, screenshots, hand-written records, etc. Interviews and diaries intersect by anchoring findings from one in the other. The diaries are time and context bound rather than reliant on memory (survey) or contextually detached (big data), while the interviews contextualize the diary data points and allow for the individual respondent to infer meaning from, make sense of, and co- interpret their communicative practices. As such, we invite participants to take part in the translation of their data into scholarly accounts. The purpose being to get at people’s individual understandings of their media practices, or simply “what the devil they think they are up to” (Geertz 1983). 

Fiona is presenting this research with her colleagues, which is part of a bigger research project at University of Copenhagen which is called “The Peoples’ Internet”. You can find more detailed information in the links below:

Aaron McKinnon

Journalism needs to get political about plastic pollution: A comparative content analysis of news media from California and France. [ICA “Environmental Communication Graduate Student“ Preconference] 

Verónica Sánchez Medina

Moving Backwards in the Digital Age: From a Civic Oriented Newsroom of Vanguard to an Authoritarian News Organization in Mexico. Preconference “Media and Governance in Latin America: Towards a Plurality of Voices”

Mia Wenyu Zhang

Media Portrayal of Knowledge Transfer and Exchange in Popular TV Shows (2004-2016) (Popular Communication Interactive Poster Session)

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