Responsible Innovation and Combating Disinformation
My research addresses digital journalism through the lens of technological change. Empirically, primarily through interview-based data analysis, I seek to understand the forces shaping journalism and how journalists conceptualize them in relation to their work. I draw on media sociology in order to explore the norms and practices in journalism and the values that shape content in emerging technologies relevant to journalism (e.g., gaming technology, social media). My research program is motivated by a concern for how journalists navigate reporting on hate groups, an essential concern given that this reporting is material to creating an open and inclusive democracy.
I study how the implementation of new technologies, such as mobile media, artificial intelligence and news gaming, influence journalistic norms and journalistic wellbeing. My research has found that these tools allow journalists to act responsively to their audience, in ways that allow even the traditional journalists to operate with norms that seem more akin to the expectations of a lifestyle journalism and that many times the implementation of innovation comes at the expense of the current work force. My focus is news production, but I also test my frameworks through interdisciplinary work in social media and game production.
My research on representations of minoritized groups operates on the premise that those representations operate in a double-duty manner: they narrate the nature of the group to actors outside of the group and simultaneously help the group to understand how they are viewed. In my research, I have paid particular attention to gender, refugee, and religious groups. My research has also examined hate groups that dispense disinformation to shape the presentation of marginalized communities.
Studying both news production and news representation is important, particularly given that news production is not the sole territory of journalists. The salience of this research is all the more important given the increasing prevalence of hate groups leveraging new technology and journalism in order to provide themselves a platform for disinformation. Furthermore, new technology comes not only with opportunity but also consequences. In my research, journalists have proven enticed by the opportunities in audience engagement presented by gaming and social media. However, those technologies have consequences—predatory practices in gaming, the amplification of hate via social media—that journalists must navigate. Increasingly a social media audience engages in journalistic acts and conducts media criticism when they see acts with which they disagree. Technologies change the nature of the representation of groups and groups themselves increasingly have their own means with which to add their own voice to the public sphere. The central focus of my research explores how journalism and new technologies intersect with the representations of difference.