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Research featured at ICA and CCA 2022 conferences

It has been a busy May with research on journalism start-ups, Google and innovation, AI and the news, and social media roles featured at international and national conferences.

Co-author Felix Simon presenting our research at ICA in Paris

The research findings were shared at the Canadian Communication Association annual conference, which took place online between May 17-20, and at the the International Communication Association, held in-person in Paris, France, between May 26-30.

Here is the list of sessions:

International Communication Association, Paris, May 26-30

  • Mellado, Claudia and Alfred Hermida. Performing the Self on Social Media: Mapping Emerging Journalistic Roles on Twitter and Instagram, May 30, 2022.
    • Abstract: This study investigates journalistic role performance on Twitter and Instagram, seeking empirically advance the analysis of how journalists take on the emerging roles of promoter, celebrity, and joker. It draws on a content analysis of 4,100 posts by 23 Chilean journalists in 2020. Early findings suggest Twitter tends to be used as a professional platform for the promoter role, while Instagram tends to serve as a personal platform for the celebrity and joker roles.
  • Simon, Felix and Alfred Hermida. An AI success story? Studying Sophi, The Globe and Mail’s artificial intelligence system. May 30, 2022.
    • Abstract: This work in progress considers how journalists conceive of AI through a case study of Sophi, developed in-house in 2020 by Canada’s largest newspaper, The Globe and Mail. Sophi uses deep-learning techniques to automate and optimize publishing decisions and drive up subscriptions through a dynamic paywall. The contribution of this case study is to provide insights into the development and adoption of an AI system widely hailed as an industry success story in journalism.
  • Young, Mary Lynn and Alfred Hermida. Durability or Precarity: The Role of Start-Ups in Fostering Novel Journalism Infrastructures in Canada. Paris, May 29, 2022.
    • Abstract: This study considers how journalism start-ups in Canada are contributing to fostering novel media infrastructures. Start-ups tend to be viewed as saviours that can address the shortcomings associated with 20th century journalism. Canada has experienced an expansion in start-ups, with 107 over the past two decades, mostly in the last five to ten years. The start-up activity comes as the country shows signs of market failure, similar to others with predominantly commercial media. An analysis of the capacities created by the start-ups points to a focus on local reporting, often in areas abandoned by legacy outlets. A majority are driven by a mission to restore ‘independent journalism’, with founders being either senior journalists disillusioned with the industry, or journalists starting out in their careers. Startups are adding to the redress and repair of some journalism capacities, while issues of size, reach and precarity of funding raise questions about durability.
  • Hermida, Alfred and Mary Lynn Young. The price of platform dollars: Analyzing Google’s effect on global journalism innovation and infrastructures. May 28, 2022.
    • Abstract: This study investigates how Google is shaping innovation through its Innovation Challenge to surface the impact of non-traditional funding on journalism infrastructures. An initial analysis of 157 projects funded in 2019 and 2020 showed a focus on business models, reader revenue and audience engagement. This approach seems to frame innovation as primarily a financial concern, which is problematic given the reckoning in journalism taking place in a number of countries in which organizations received funding.
  • Young, Mary Lynn and Alfred Hermida. The Contribution of Startups to the Infrastructures of Journalism in Canada, 2000-2021. May 28, 2022.
    • Abstract: This paper investigates startups through the lens of infrastructure studies. It draws on a analysis of 107 journalism startups in Canada from 2000-2021 to ask what capacities are being created, repaired, transformed and/or dismantled, and how are they contributing to journalism’s dual commercial and public service role. Initial findings of this work in progress suggest that startups are, in part, building capacities by redressing and repairing systemic losses and harms, while testing business models.
  • Hermida, Alfred. (Chair). Rebuilding the media: Journalism startups as infrastructure. May 29, 2022.
    • Abstract: This panel examines how start-ups are contributing to the development of journalism infrastructures in various national contexts. The presentations from Australia, Canada, Colombia, and Singapore consider how start-ups are fostering infrastructures that reflect their political, economic, social contexts. We aim to spark a discussion on the novel capacities that start-ups bring to support, repair or reform journalism, as well as contribute to the use of infrastructure studies in journalism studies.
  • Hermida, Alfred. (Chair). Journalism in the Age of Social Media. May 29, 2022.

Canadian Communication Association annual conference, May 17-20

  • Hermida, Alfred. Critical collaborations: Universities and the future of public interest journalism panel. May 18, 2022. (Virtual).
  • Hermida, Alfred and Mary Lynn Young. Google’s Effect On Global Journalism Innovation. May 17, 2022. (Virtual).

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