In light of the evolving Covid-19 pandemic, the Media & Democracy program has been forced to postpone two upcoming workshops until further notice. “News Coverage of US Elections,” which will address how changes in media, technology, and politics shape the way that elections are covered in the United States, and “Extreme Right Radicalization Online,” which will support research on the processes driving right-wing extremism and the distinct mechanisms by which such processes occur online, will be held later this year. As the program reorients toward an uncertain future, it offers this report on media and political change in historical context, the subject of a research workshop and public event held last spring.
On April 25–26, 2019, the SSRC’s Media & Democracy program hosted a workshop on “Race, Gender, and Toxicity Online,” preceded by a roundtable featuring comments from leading scholars in this field. Senior program officer Mike Miller highlights key insights from the event, including how users do not simply leave their identities behind when they go online. The result for marginalized communities and women, whose identities tend to structure their political lives, can be disproportionate levels of hateful speech and vitriol. The roundtable participants—Zizi Papacharissi, Lisa Nakamura, and Catherine Knight Steele—explain how three stakeholders with significant influence over the content and form of online discourse—journalists, developers, and academics—can and should address its increasing toxicity.
In this conversation, hosted by the SSRC’s Media & Democracy program, program officer Mike Miller revisits an often overlooked topic—expectations and predictions for the internet in its early days—with Sarah J. Jackson (Northeastern University) and David Karpf (George Washington University). Understanding the pessimistic and optimistic outlooks journalists, entrepreneurs, and others had for the internet, where these predictions fell short, and whose voices were listened to, sheds light on the digital age’s present and future shortcomings.
The SSRC’s Media & Democracy program has launched a series of workshops that put current controversies and debates into historical and cross-disciplinary perspectives. Here, Mike Miller and James Kirwan provide the key takeaways from a recent event on “A Modern History of the Disinformation Age.” Scholars at the workshop engaged the roots of our “epistemic crisis” regarding what counts as facts and as “reality.” Participants focused on actors who benefit from the questioning of truth claims, and how institutions that once served as gatekeepers for such claims have been weakened and unable to adjust to new media ecosystems.
In this conversation hosted by the Media & Democracy program, program officer Mike Miller discusses the trajectory of campaign financing in recent elections with Ciara Torres-Spelliscy (Stetson University) and Heath Brown (John Jay College of Criminal Justice). In particular, they address the impact of online fundraising and small-dollar contributions.