Tag: media studies

Infrastructure after disasters

On October 21, 1868, at approximately eight o’clock in the morning, a major earthquake on the Hayward Fault near Oakland, California shook the Bay Area. The earthquake caused a great deal of damage in the small towns near the earthquake epicenter, as well as on “made ground” in San Francisco. Outside of the affected area, citizens worried about what had happened. People looked for the latest news at telegraph offices, though some telegraph lines were damaged or inundated. When inquirers reached the telegraph offices, however, they were sometimes met with rumors and misinformation.  Some telegrams said, incorrectly, that San Francisco was destroyed and sixty bodies were recovered.[i] Similar news exaggerating the damage in San Francisco spread all across the state. So, while the telegraph promised that people would have more immediate access to events in faraway places, the existence of a telegraphic infrastructure did not guarantee that these assessments had any correspondence to truth. People also reveal how they believe infrastructure should work when public information infrastructures are used intensely, overwhelmed, or broken. The silent structuring work of infrastructures—so integral to modernity—becomes easier to “see” after disasters. (read more...)

Journalists Won’t Get the ‘Fake News’ Story Right: They Need Help

Editor’s note: This is a jointly-authored post by Lynn Schofield Clark, Professor and Chair of the Department of Media, Film and Journalism Studies at the University of Denver, and Adrienne Russell, Mary Laird Wood Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington.  The Federal Communications Commission vote to end net neutrality generated weeks of stories last month — good stories — and the topic will fuel many more good stories in the months and year to come. Those stories at the intersection where technology, policy, politics and ideology meet are testament in large part to the way savvy activist communities have framed the story of net neutrality and pushed it into the news cycle. Activist-experts have made net neutrality news stories easy to write. They have articulated why internet regulatory policy should matter to the public, how it affects creative and entrepreneurial endeavor, how it has fueled but could also hobble the kind of digital innovation that has shaped daily life for hundreds of millions of Americans. We haven’t enjoyed the same kind of coverage on the rise of “fake news,” a similarly complex story. “Fake news” is a digital-age phenomenon, a rhetorical device, a business story, a political scourge, a foreign policy threat, and more. It is as juicy a story as it is complex, and yet the mainstream media has failed to fully take it up — and, without help, the mainstream media never will fully take it up. (read more...)

Digital Ethnography

At the end of 2012 Larissa Hjorth, Jo Tacchi and I published a special issue of Media International Australia on ‘rethinking’ ethnography and ethnographic practice (see TOC below). Through six single and co-authored contributions, the special issue considers the variety of ways in which the changes in our media environment broadens what we think of as ‘media’, the contexts through which media is produced, used and circulated and the emergent practices that digital media affords. We begin this inquiry by considering how the changing media environment has introduced new scholars and debates around the value and practice of ethnography. We then turn more specifically to the ways in which media ethnography is being practiced in light of the new contexts of research, be they the broadcasters trying to keep pace with the changes of the changing media environment or researchers working through what to do with the fieldsite and myriad of (read more...)