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Using Social Media to Represent 'Public Opinion'

The third presenter in this Future of Journalism 2017 session is Shannon McGregor, whose interest is in the role of social media in the construction of public opinion by the political press. There's an increasing tendency for journalistic coverage to claim that 'Twitter' or even 'the Internet' responded in a particular way to specific political issues and controversies, and social media certainly play a role in how public opinion is shaped, but how might we think about the type of public opinion that can be observed on social media?

Letters to the Editor during the U.K. EU Referendum

The next speakers at Future of Journalism 2017 are Iñaki Garcia-Blanco and Lucy Bennett, whose focus is also on the Brexit referendum. There is a long history of anti-European discourse in British politics, and the EU has been framed by the British press in a negative light; eventually this resulted in the 2016 EU referendum, with fault lines running right through the major British parties.

Twitter in Brexit and the 2017 U.K. General Election

The first paper session at Future of Journalism 2017 starts with Max Hänska, whose focus is on the role of social media in political debate during Brexit and the 2017 U.K. general election. Max's study tracked tweets including a set of keywords for both events, as well as following the Twitter accounts of some 2,100 candidates in the election.

The Trouble with 'F*** News'

The second morning keynote at Future of Journalism 2017 is by Claire Wardle, in a pre-taped keynote (thanks to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). She begins by introducing the First Draft project, which takes a similar approach to news fact-checking organisations, but instead focusses on claims and visual content circulated by unofficial sources prior to publication in the news. (The overlap between these approaches is also of great interest.)

How can computational techniques help with this; how can unofficial material be effectively verified; how can this be treated by law and regulation; and how does this address the current state of information disorder in a massively multi-channel media environment? The project takes an explorative approach, and importantly also translates its findings into educational resources for journalists and journalism students. It has focussed especially on recent elections in the U.S., France, Britain, and the upcoming German federal election, as well as on humanitarian crises.

A Call to Study "News in Use"

It's Thursday, so this must be Cardiff and the Future of Journalism 2017 conference. We start with a double-barrelled keynote involving Silvio Waisbord and Claire Wardle, and Silvio starts us off by considering the role of journalism in a 'post-truth' environment. There's been a great deal of discussion about 'fake news' and 'post-truth' in the aftermath of Brexit and Donald Trump's election, much of it from outside of this discipline – so what can journalism studies add to it?

These are odd times. The criticism of corporate news is now louder on the right than on the left; social constructionists are now louder in their defence of journalistic and scientific facts; journalism is now perhaps better than ever in its fact-checking even as trust is at a low ebb; we are supposedly in an age of post-truth, yet truth-seeking movements are growing in many authoritarian regimes. Some of these debates are already very familiar from the global south, in fact: it's only now that the rest of the world has caught up with it.

From Talk-Back to Facebook Live: Politicians' Strategies for Bypassing Journalistic Scrutiny

The final paper in this ANZCA 2017 session is presented by Caroline Fisher, whose focus is on Australian politicians' approaches to bypassing the scrutiny of the parliamentary press gallery. This is based on a set of 87 interviews with key media actors from the Howard era, including the former Prime Minister himself, as well as on an analysis of the social media activities of five Australian political leaders and interviews with their press secretaries.

How the #notmydebt Campaign Played Out on Twitter

The next paper in this ANZCA 2017 session is by my colleagues Brenda Moon, Ehsan Dehghan, and me, and I'm presenting it, so I won't liveblog it, of course. Below are the slides, though:

Everyday Political Talk about Housing Affordability on Facebook Pages

The next paper in this ANZCA 2017 session is presented by Ariadne Vromen, whose focus is on debates of housing affordability on Facebook. Social media are of course being used for everyday political talk, but the private pages of individuals are very difficult to observe effectively, and for good reason. But the Facebook pages of mainstream media outlets serve as a kind of intermediary, semi-public spaces for such talk; here, it is possible to observe engagement, interactions, and sentiment, as well as reactions to media framing of current issues.

Malcolm Turnbull's Twitter Conversations about the NBN

The final paper session at ANZCA 2017 starts with Caroline Fisher and Glen Fuller, whose focus is on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's conversations about the National Broadband Network project on Twitter. Turnbull was a comparatively early adopter of social media, and one of the big challenges in becoming PM was whether he would continue to use Twitter in the way he had before, or would lapse into a more broadcast-oriented tweeting style.

Cosmopolitanising Journalism, Media, and Communication Education

The final ANZCA 2017 keynote is by Wanning Sun, who continues our focus on China. She begins by highlighting the challenges that journalism, media, and communication educators are now facing in teaching an increasingly international cohort of students – many of whom, in the Australian context, come from China: how should they present the global media environment and its central issues, including questions such as freedom of speech and media bias, to such a diverse group of students?

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