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Current research projects

  • Global Journalism Innovation Lab

The Global Journalism Innovation Lab is a project bringing together scholars at five universities, journalists at six journalism organizations and professionals from the innovation sector in Canada and internationally.

Led by co-PIs Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young, the project is funded by a $2.5m SSHRC Partnership Grant over six years. It investigates how the future of journalism is being shaped by approaches to journalism, innovation practices, business models and policy frameworks. The project focuses on explanatory journalism that seeks to provide evidence-based information and perspectives to inform public dialogue and policy action. The project investigates how experimental digital journalism forms can impact civic engagement and policy uptake in partnership with The Conversation Canada, and the network of affiliates in Australia, France, the U.K. and the U.S.

Past research projects

  • The Conversation Canada: Mobilizing academic journalism for societal dialogue and knowledge (2015-2018)

The SSHRC-funded project made academic knowledge more broadly accessible by developing and launching The Conversation in Canada. The Canadian edition of The Conversation launched in June 2017, following on the heels of launches in France and South Africa, and built on the success of The Conversation’s US, UK, and Australian sites. Thee French-language version launched in December 2018.

  • Gatekeeping in a digital era

This project examined how one of the core theories in communication studies, gatekeeping, is being reconfigured, crowdsourced and algorithmified in a digital age. The concept of gatekeeping has been a central construct in understanding information flows in society. Yet the transformed media ecology, driven by sociotechnical affordances of new information and communication technologies, has raised questions as to the nature of gatekeeping and its value as a theoretical construct.

  • Arctic Journalism: Examining norms and practices in an era of environmental change and global audiences

This three-year SSHRC funded project (2014-2017) examines the way Arctic journalists are reporting on climate change and resource development, how they conceive of newly globalized audiences, and how they are adapting journalistic norms and practices to new media platforms. UBC Prof Candis Callison is the principal investigator on the project, with me as the co-investigator.

  • The impact of data and computational journalism on journalistic practices

The purpose of this study is to examine how computational journalism is impacting the creation and dissemination of news. Computational journalism refers to forms of algorithmic, social scientific, and mathematical processes and systems for the production of news. Computational journalism is the latest in a series of technological developments have shaped journalistic work and builds on techniques of computer-assisted reporting (CAR) and the use of social science tools in journalism. It is a growing field of interest for the industry and the academy. Our goal is to support a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities of computational journalism among practicing journalists and those who train them.

  • Hashtag dissent: #Idlenomore and social media as a middle ground

This project, with Prof Callison, examines how the Idle No More movement in Canada used social media to articulate and evolve their message via multi-vocal grassroots indigenous voices, opening up public discourse around colonialism, shared history and environmental issues. The research focuses on how social media, and particularly Twitter, can serve as a contested space for ideas where networked-sourced elites provide relevance, meaning and interpretation. It builds on the study of Andy Carvin’s sourcing practices on Twitter during the Arab Spring.

  • SMARTTLab: (Social Media Advanced Research, Teaching, and Training Lab

The SMARTTLab is a new initiative at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism to examine how social media is transforming the way people communicate. The lab was founded by Alfred Hermida and Prof Callison to support research projects into how social media is creating a hybrid space for journalism production where the public is involved in producing, sharing and interpreting the news. It serves as a focal point for enhancing faculty research and teaching related to social media. It is funded by the Canadian Media Research Consortium.

  • First Nations and Facebook: Examining the role of social media in migration, community relations, and governance

This study examines how social networking technologies, particularly Facebook, are being used by First Nations individuals and communities in Canada for social engagement, self-representation, and governance-related activities. First Nations have been intensively using media and information technologies since the early 1970s, and the increasing pervasiveness of Facebook builds on this sedimentation of use and experimentation with varied media. The research seeks to address an emerging gap in scholarly literature by considering the spread and multiple uses of Facebook in relation to new and ongoing shifts in demographics, urban migration, and varied aspects of community relations and governance within First Nations communities.

  • Social Journalism: How social media is changing the way we communicate

A SSHRC-funded research project to consolidate different global perspectives on the impact of social media on journalism and discuss and synthesize the available knowledge. Social media raises questions about journalism’s jurisdictional claim to the news. Social digital media spaces allow for new relations that disrupt authorial structures. Journalists need to be able learn and understand how news and information works in social media, instead of simply applying established norms and practices that may no longer be effective in communicating. The book that has come out of the project, Tell Everyone: Why We Share and Why It Matters, is out on October 14, 2014, published by DoubleDay Canada.

Past applied projects

Prof Hermida supervised the development of website for the UBC journalism student investigation into the impact of cheap shrimp. This web project was the culmination of a year-long investigation into the Thai shrimp industry undertaken by 10 students on the International Reporting course with Prof Peter Klein.

  • Visualization in journalism, 2010-2012

Prof Hermida has partnered with IBM Canada to explore the use of data visualization in journalism. The project is investigating how emerging visualization tools can aid journalists in the preparation, manipulation and visual representation of complex data, creating new interactive forms of story-telling to engage audiences and enhance public understanding of public policy issues. As part of the project, he collaborated with CBC News for an interactive on workplace carcinogens.

  • The Canadian Music Wiki, 2010
Canadian Music Wiki
The launch of the Canadian Music Wiki.

The Canadian Music Wiki, (archived copy), launched in May 2010, was the result of an innovative partnership between the UBC Graduate School of Journalism and CBC Radio 3, led by Prof Hermida. It applied social media technologies to create a collaborative, crowd-sourced online encyclopedia of Canadian music. The partnership was formed under the aegis of the MITACS Accelerate program, which aims to support research and development partnerships between companies and universities. The project highlights the role for journalism schools as a catalyst for innovation in the media, as it served to bolster CBC Radio 3 efforts to remain at the forefront of offering innovative and distinctive Canadian content.

  • Mobile journalism, 2009

In 2009, Prof Hermida partnered with Canadian company Vericorder to pioneer the application of smartphone mobile media applications with the Poddio audio suite app for the iPhone. The project also introduced students to the 1st Video iPhone app that enabled them to put together news items, video or podcasts, with multi-track audio.

  • Journalism education, 2009

The website,, was created by Prof Hermida to educate students in theoretical issues and ethical practices in journalism through a series of interactive teaching online modules. These modules offer video clips or pertinent journalism material on key research questions in media studies, designed to enhance the existing journalism courses at the school. This UBC-funded project extends classroom learning into the intellectual and online spaces that students already occupy, using a visual format, to provide a forum outside of the classroom for critical thinking and discussion of journalistic topics. The online format encourages quieter students to interact online with fellow students in discussion, promoting reflection on topics ahead of scheduled classes.

  •, 2008
Net Prime Minister logo

In 2008, Prof Hermida created to track the social media buzz on the federal elections. aggregated blog content, YouTube videos, Twitter comments and Flickr photos about the race, offering a unique perspective on the race to be Canada’s next prime minister. The site was built on the NetVibes platform and has since been archived.