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Social Media News Audiences and the Quantified Journalist (ICA 2015)

International Communication Association conference 2015

Social Media News Audiences and the Quantified Journalist

Tim Highfield and Axel Bruns

Media Usage and Political Participation in Germany

The next AoIR 2015 speaker is Anna Sophia Kümpel, whose interest is in news usage patterns and their effects on political participatory behaviours. Mass media remain identified as a crucial determinant of political participatory behaviour, though their exact effects on participation remain disputed. One new factor which emerges in addition to this in more recent times is the question of which devices are being used.

Crowdsourced Journalism in Finland

I arrived a little late to Tanja Aitamurto's AoIR 2015 paper about crowdsourced journalism in northern Europe, where news sites used their readers to gather data on homeloan terms, for instance – crowdsourcing is thus defined as a mechanism for collaborative problem-solving that is driven by the initiator of the project; the locus of power therefore remains with the media organisation.

Twitter and the Philae Comet Landing

Up next at AoIR 2015 is the fabulous Luca Rossi, whose interest is in how scientific media events are now mediated via Twitter. His focus here is on the Rosetta mission and the Philae probe's landing on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The mission was launched before Twitter was, but the approach and landing of the probe was covered closely by dedicated Twitter accounts and in widely promoted hashtags like #WakeUpRosetta.

Some New Publications

It’s been some time since I last posted an update on my latest publications – though you may have seen that on the front page of this site, I’ve updated the banner of the most recent books I’ve been featured in, at last. There is quite a lot more work in the pipeline for the immediate future, including a major new collection which I’ve edited with colleagues in Norway and Sweden – more on that soon.

For now, though, you wouldn’t go wrong if you started by checking out the new journal Social Media + Society, which I’m delighted to be involved in as a member of the Editorial Board. We launched issue 1.1 with a collection of brief manifesto pieces that outline why the study of social media and their impacts on society is so important, featuring many leading researchers in this emerging field. And what’s more, the whole journal is open access! For what it’s worth, here’s my contribution:

Axel Bruns. “Making Sense of Society through Social Media.Social Media + Society 1.1 (2015). DOI: 10.1177/2056305115578679.

Along similar lines, my QUT Digital Media Research Centre colleagues and I have also continued our critical engagement with social media and ‘big data’ research methods and approaches, which has resulted in two new book chapters recently.

Postdoc Position Available: Public Sphere Theory and Social Media Analytics

In addition to the PhD position I advertised last week, I am now also offering a two-year, full-time postdoc position on the same project at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia (international applicants are very welcome). If you’re interested and qualified for the position, please submit a detailed application through the QUT jobs Website, responding to the selection criteria. Full details for the job can be found there, and below I’m including the key details from the job description:

Position Purpose

This appointment supports an ARC Future Fellowship research project investigating intermedia information flows in the Australian online public sphere. The emergence of new media forms has led to a profound transformation of the Australian media environment: mainstream, niche, and social media intersect in many ways, online and offline. Increased access to large-scale data on public communication online enables an observation of how the nation responds to the news of the day, how themes and topics unfold, and how interest publics develop and decline over time. This project uses such observations to trace how information flows across media spaces, and to develop a new model of the online public sphere. It makes significant contributions to innovation in research methods in the digital humanities, and provides an important basis for policies aimed at closing digital and social divides. Research on the project commenced in April 2014.

The Postdoctoral Research Fellow will contribute to project management and undertake specific research tasks and will also be involved in the supervision of one of the PhD students associated with the project. The position will be based at QUT in Brisbane, and will support the timely analysis of public communication activities which relate to current debates. The presence of this full-time staff member will ensure the project’s agility in responding to unfolding events, and substantially enhance its ability to engage in and impact on public debate over the lifetime of the Future Fellowship.

Call for PhD Applications: Social Media and Public Communication

We’re now looking for the second PhD student associated with my current ARC Future Fellowship project. The PhD student will receive an annual stipend of A$25,849 over the three years of the PhD project. If you’re interested in and qualified for the PhD project, please contact me by 1 May 2015, directly at with your CV, names of two referees, and a detailed statement addressing the Eligibility Requirements below. We’ll select the candidate on this basis, and will then ask you to formally apply for the PhD place through the QUT Website.

Full details are below – please pay particularly close attention to the Eligibility Requirements.

The Project

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate to participate in an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship project which draws on several ‘big data’ sources on Australian online public communication.

This PhD project provides an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the flow of information across the Australian online public sphere at large scale and in close to real time, within a world-class research environment. With an ERA ranking of 5 (well above world standing), Creative Industries at QUT is the leading institution for Media and Communication research in Australia, and ARC Future Fellow Professor Axel Bruns is an international research leader in the area of Internet studies.

Regional and National News Commenting Practices in Finland

The final speaker at ECREA 2014 is Veera Kangaspunta, who notes the importance of studying the audience behind online news comments. Traditionally, journalists have seen online news as a sideshow to the real news business, and online comments are thus a sideshow to the sideshow – but this is changing. While the quality of online commentary is often limited, and discussions may drift, they may be studied to reveal a great deal more about audience attitudes.


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