Paper presented at Transition V: Developing Dialogic Communication conference, Bucharest

This morning my Research Associate Giuliana Tiripelli will present our paper “Challenges and opportunities of dialogic communication in crisis situations: Twitter, affective publics and the 2015 Channel Tunnel fire” at the Understanding Transition V: Developing Dialogic Communication conference at the University of Bucharest. The abstract for the paper can be found below:

Challenges and opportunities of dialogic communication in crisis situations: Twitter, affective publics, and the 2015 Channel Tunnel Fire.

Giuliana Tiripelli & Paul Reilly

 

 

The ‘ambient storytelling infrastructure’ of Twitter today enables ‘affective publics’ to present their own perspectives on events and issues (Papacharissi, 2015). This phenomenon challenges established top-down communicative dynamics, in which definitional power appeared to lie with institutions, organisations, and journalists rather than citizens, and seemingly presents new opportunities for dialogic communication between these actors in the digital age. At the same time, ‘affective publics’ “are mobilized … through expressions of sentiment” (Papacharissi, 2016: 311), creating new information flows that challenge the ability of organisations and journalists to channel communicative resources that manage public responses to crises. This paper explores this binary role of ‘affective publics’ in contemporary media ecologies through the study of the Twitter debate that emerged during the Channel Tunnel Fire. The incident on 17th January 2015, during which a lorry was set alight by an electricity bolt from overhead power lines, led to the evacuation of the passengers and significant disruption to Eurostar services for the next few days. Specifically, the study analyses the role played by journalists and Eurostar staff in the co-construction of meaning of the incident. A critical thematic analysis was conducted (Braun and Clarke 2006) to explore key themes of the 12,652 English-language tweets posted between the 17th and 19th January 2015. URL links shared in tweets were also classified using an inductively-developed content analysis codebook. Results indicate that Twitter accounts belonging to members of the public, rather than the affected organisation (Eurostar) or emergency institutions, were primarily responsible for starting information flows about the Channel Tunnel fire and subsequent disruptions. Although many tweets expressed gratitude for the professionalism of the company and their prompt reply to customer queries, the study suggested an ‘imbalance’ between organisations and private citizens in the co-creation of meaning of the incident in favour of the latter. One interpretation of this finding was that it was a manifestation of the increasingly important role played by flexible and mobile affective publics in defining news events within the contemporary ecology, often at the expense of less flexible news organisations and political institutions that operate in these online spaces. This may present practical problems for emergency managers during incidents such as the Channel Tunnel fire, especially when the cacophony of views on Twitter make it difficult to both filter and share real-time crisis information on the microblogging site. In this way, the paper adds to the emergent literature on dialogic communication and disasters by considering the extent to which the mobilisation of affective publics online challenges the ability of emergency managers to share accurate real-time information with members of the public during such incidents.

Braun V and Clarke V (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3(2):77-101.

Papacharissi Z (2015) Affective publics: Sentiment, technology and politics. Oxford University Press.

Papacharissi Z (2016) Affective publics and structures of storytelling: sentiment, events and mediality. Information, Communication & Society 19(3):307-324.

ESRC Funded PhD Studentship on social media and disaster resilience

Dr Tina McGuinness (Management) and I are looking for applications for an ESRC PhD studentship, entitled “social media and community resilience: a process based study of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services.” Funded by the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership Collaborative award, the successful applicant will work with SYFR to evaluate how sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to promote community disaster resilience and encourage citizens to fully participate in disaster risk management and reduction initiatives. Further details on the studentship can be found here and the closing date for applications is 20 March 2017.

Submission to UK Government Inquiry on children and young people’s mental health

I am pleased to report that our written submission to the UK Government inquiry on children and young people’s mental health has been accepted and published. Based on the findings from our Wellcome Trust project, our report addresses the role of social media in raising awareness of mental health issues amongst these groups. Thanks to my co-authors Michelle O’Reilly, Nisha Dogra, Natasha Whiteman and Jason Hughes for their hard work on this.

The submission can be viewed here

 

 

Presenting two papers at ISA Annual Convention, Baltimore

This week I will be at the International Studies Association Annual Convention in Baltimore. The theme this year is ‘Understanding Change in World Politics’ and our panel, entitled ‘Social media and activism: power and resistance in the 21st century’ will be on Thursday 23rd February  (8.15-10.00). The abstracts for these papers can be found below:

Twitter, affective publics and public demonstrations in divided societies: The 2014 and 2015 Ardoyne parade disputes in Northern Ireland.

Paul Reilly, University of Sheffield

Abstract

Can social media help facilitate peacebuilding in divided societies such as Northern Ireland? Are they safe spaces in which antagonistic groups are able to reconcile their differences and agree to work together for mutual benefit? This paper adds to this debate by examining how citizens used Twitter in response to the contentious Orange Order parade in the Ardoyne district of North Belfast. Twitter provided a platform for ‘affective publics’ who expressed a myriad of sentiments towards the Orange Order, in addition to the residents who opposed the loyalist parade passing the predominantly nationalist area. This study focused on the extent to which these tweeters appeared to use the site to prevent a recurrence of the sectarian violence that followed the parade in previous years. A critical thematic analysis of 7388 #Ardoyne tweets, collected in July 2014 and July 2015, was conducted in order to investigate these issues. Results indicate that Twitter’s greatest contribution to peacebuilding may lie in its empowerment of citizens to correct rumours and disinformation that have the potential to generate sectarian violence. However, the site does not appear to function as a shared space in which cross-community consensus on contentious issues such as Ardoyne parade can be fostered.

Telling it like it is: A comparative perspective on the use of personal stories in online grassroots advocacy

 Filippo Trevisan – American University

Paul Reilly – University of Sheffield

Mariana Leyton Escobar – American University

Abstract

Storytelling transcends cultures. It can speak to global audiences, change public attitudes, serve as policy evidence, and challenge dominant media narratives on sensitive social issues. Thus, advocacy organizations and activist networks increasingly use social media to crowd-source, co-create, and distribute personal stories, which originate in the private sphere and become public narratives online. Yet, story-based advocacy is also controversial as sharing the intimate accounts of groups that have been discriminated against may foster further stigmatization. Communication scholars have yet to discuss the implications of this global advocacy trend for digital citizenship. Whose voices do we really hear in online stories? How are they collected, edited, and re-mediated? Ultimately, who is empowered by this approach? To address these questions, this paper compares the use of personal stories in online disability rights campaigns in the UK and the United States. By combining the analysis of blog posts and YouTube videos featuring stories of disability with interviews with leading advocates in both countries, different digital storytelling practices are revealed. In particular, a trade-off between maintaining spontaneity and editing personal accounts to achieve policy effectiveness is identified and discussed in the context of different political cultures, media systems, ethical principles, and policy-making traditions.

Publication: Politics, Protest, Emotion book of blogs

I am pleased to announce the publication of Politics, Protest, Emotion: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. A Book of Blogs, which I co-edited with Anastasia Veneti (Bournemouth University) and Dimitrinka Atanasova (Queen Mary, University of London).

An excerpt from the press release can be found below.

The origins of this book of blogs can be traced back to “Politics, Emotion and Protest,” an interdisciplinary workshop co-hosted by Bournemouth University’s Centre for Politics and Media Research and Civic Media Hub, the Department of Media & Communication at University of Leicester, the Media and Politics Group of the Political Studies Association, and the Protest Camps Research Network. This event, held on 9-10 July 2015, brought together researchers from a variety of disciplines in order to discuss the intersections between power, politics and emotions.

The publication features contributions from 37 academics from across the globe. It presents a range of disciplinary perspectives on politics and emotions, including the fields of computer science, (digital) media studies, journalism studies and political science. Drawing on a range of case studies such as the 2016 CND march in London, the movement against TTIP-TAFTA and health activism such as “I Want PrEP Now”, the contributors provide new insight into the affective turn in protest and social movements.

Dr Paul Reilly said: “ The purpose of this volume is not to offer conclusions or recommendations for those readers interested in the affective turn in protest and social movements. Rather, it is hoped that these blogposts provoke debate and reflection in relation to how everyday and extraordinary political actions have become infused with emotion. We would like to thank all of our authors for contributing to this conversation on Politics, Protest and Emotions.”

The book of blogs is divided into five main thematic categories: Politics, emotion and identity performance; Emotion and the news media; Women, politics, activism; Digital media and the politics of protest; Health, emotion, activism.

This open access publication can be accessed online here or downloaded as a pdf. If you wish to obtain an EPUB version (suitable for Nooks, Kindles and other e-readers) then please email p.j.reilly@sheffield.ac.uk

For more information on Politics, Protest, Emotion, please contact one of the editors:

Paul Reilly p.j.reilly@sheffield.ac.uk

Anastasia Veneti anastasia_veneti@yahoo.com

Dimitrinka Atanasova db.atanasova@gmail.com

Contribution to #12daysofthinking

I was asked to contribute to #12daysofthinking, in which University of Sheffield academics offer reflections on the pressing issues of our time. My piece reflected on the rise of so-called ‘fake news’ in 2016.

It has been published online here and I include the contribution below for reference:

“2016 was the year ‘fake news’ outperformed real news on social media, most notably during the US Presidential Election. Companies such as Facebook were accused of not doing enough to prevent the spread of falsehoods. Yet, many citizens contribute to this ‘post-truth’ politics. It was no coincidence that many of the fake news stories that went viral during the US Election were those that appealed to pre-existing prejudices of social media users. The challenge for professional journalists in 2017 is how to counter the spread of disinformation amongst citizens who increasingly distrust traditional news media.”

Job: Full-Time Research Associate (fixed term), CascEff (2 days left to apply)

I am currently looking for a full-time Research Associate (fixed term for 7 months, with a provisional start date of 1st January 2017 or as soon as possible afterwards) for my EC FP7 funded project ‘CascEff: Modelling of dependencies and cascading effects for emergency management in crisis situations.’ The closing date for applications is 1 December 2016 and further details on the role can be found here

If you have any questions about the role please contact me at: P.J.Reilly@sheffield.ac.uk