What is it that journalism studies is studying these days? A lot about newsrooms, less about everybody else in the news ecosystem

I am at the International Communication Association 2018 annual meeting in Prague. It is arguably the single most important international academic conference for communications research, media studies, and, by extension, work on journalism. This year, 130 individual papers have been accepted for presentation by the Journalism Studies Division after peer review. (The acceptance rate is normally less than 50 percent; this year it was 45 percent for full papers.) The ICA papers — most of them work-in-progress, fresh, recent, up-to-date work by a wide range of academics studying journalism from many countries, perspectives, and backgrounds — can provide the basis for at least a partial answer to an important question: What is the field of journalism studies actually studying today? So I did a quick and subjective categorization of all the paper titles by topic, following a similar post I did at the 2017 Future of Journalism conference
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Is your fake news about immigrants or politicians? It all depends on where you live

Facebook is ready for proposals from fake news researchers. Facebook rolled out a few announcements on its “strategy for stopping false news” on Wednesday. First, there’s a request for proposals from researchers who study fake news and want access to Facebook data (the company had announced this initiative last month; it’s funded by outside organizations, decisions won’t be subject to Facebook approval, and research will be released publicly). Second, there’s a “news literacy campaign that provides people with tips to spot false news and more information on the actions that we’re taking. This will appear at the top of News Feed and in print ads, starting in the U.S. and reaching other countries throughout the year.” It appears similar to the fake news election stuff that Facebook has run in some newspapers. Third, a 12-minute film called “Facing Facts” that is part of
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Who’s creating the top Facebook videos? “Not people you’ve necessarily heard of”

Motivational speaking, puppies, and babies: These are hot topics for the most popular Facebook videos so far in 2018, according to a NewsWhip analysis. Despite recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm that would supposedly decrease the visibility of clickbait-y and viral video, the second most popular native Facebook video this year is called “Babies and puppies,” from publisher Daily Picks and Flicks. The tenth most popular, from NTD Funniest, is “Dogs and cats always make us laugh! 🤣😂😽 I admit to watching these videos after linking to them here. Perhaps surprisingly, “seven of the ten most engaged Facebook video posts in 2018 so far [came] in at three minutes or longer, and the average across the ten [was] three minutes eleven seconds.” Motivational speaker Jay Shetty pops up multiple times in the most popular/most commented/most engaged list, and “the most frequently appearing names were the viral publishers such as NTD
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Grocery Store Censors Student’s ‘Summa Cum Laude’ Graduation Cake: ‘Summa — Laude’

A proud — and now angry — mother took to Facebook on Sunday to voice her grievances after a grocery store censored her son’s graduation cake, as the lewd, American English meaning for the word “cum” apparently interfered with her son’s celebration of finishing high school with summa cum laude honors. “I ordered Jacob’s graduation cake from Publix. A $70 cake!! He earned a 4.79 GPA,” wrote Cara Koscinski on Facebook, the upset mom in question. “Publix refused to write the words Summa Cum Laude because I was using ‘profanity!’ They put three dashes instead of the word!” She continued by calling the dessert a “joke of a cake,” and added that her “son was humiliated” and that she “couldn’t make this crap up.” While the term summa cum laude is Latin for “with the highest distinction,” the second word in the term — of course Continue reading "Grocery Store Censors Student’s ‘Summa Cum Laude’ Graduation Cake: ‘Summa — Laude’"

What happens when two companies journalists love to hate are also handing out cash for journalism?

One Wednesday this spring, I wrote about an accelerator aimed at local newsrooms and funded by Facebook. Two days later, I criticized the fact that Facebook’s algorithm changes don’t actually appear to be hurting hyperpartisan publishers. This is a fairly common dynamic at Nieman Lab, where we write about the duopoly’s latest news funding efforts and announcements even as we bemoan their increasing dominance. We’re certainly not alone among news outlets in doing this, but, as Mathew Ingram pointed out this week in Columbia Journalism Review, it’s a weird situation:
These mega-platforms are now two of the largest funders of journalism in the world. The irony is hard to miss. The dismantling of the traditional advertising model — largely at the hands of the social networks, which have siphoned away the majority of industry ad revenue — has left many media companies and journalistic institutions in desperate need of a Continue reading "What happens when two companies journalists love to hate are also handing out cash for journalism?"

You see it, you buy it: Just being exposed to fake news makes you more likely to believe it

The documents released Thursday show that “Russian agents continued advertising on Facebook well after the presidential election,” Romm writes. This week, Facebook rolled out new “issue ad” rules meant to combat Russian meddling; buyers of ads on contentious topics — a broad list: Abortion, budget, civil rights, crime, economy, education, energy, environment, foreign policy, government reform, guns, health, immigration, infrastructure, military, poverty, social security, taxes, terrorism, and values — will be required to reveal their identity, location, and who’s paying. Facebook has also banned all foreign advertising around Ireland’s upcoming referendum on whether to legalize abortion; Google followed suit. Familiarity with a fake news headline increases your likelihood of rating it as accurate. Here’s an updated version of Gordon Pennycook and David Rand’s paper on how simple exposure to fake news increases its perceived accuracy a week later; it will be published soon in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
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Facebook Makes Stunning Admission on Election Meddling: ‘This Will Never Be a Solved Problem’

In a momentous development in the Facebook-Russian meddling saga, Facebook released a statement claiming that troll accounts and posts will never be completely eradicated from the social media platform. “This will never be a solved problem because we’re up against determined, creative and well-funded adversaries,” Facebook said in a statement. “But we are making steady progress.” The company outlined 10 specific undertakings to prevent the spread of fake news and protect users’ privacy that they claim have been effective, including sharing intelligence with the government, collaborating with industries to improve security, and specific action against the Russian-based Internet Research Agency. “As our CEO and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg told Congress last month we need to take a broader view of our responsibilities as a company,” the statement read. “That means not just building products that help people connect – but also ensuring that they are used for good and not Continue reading "Facebook Makes Stunning Admission on Election Meddling: ‘This Will Never Be a Solved Problem’"