Why Data Journalism Exists, and Why It Matters (or Doesn’t)

C.W. ANDERSON
Professor of Media and Communication
University of Leeds
April 26, 2017 | 12:30p – 2p | MCC 201

Is journalism today better than it has ever been? The question, on the surface, seems ridiculous. Fox News and Breitbart.com dominate our political discourse. A reality-television show star leveraged the affordances of cable news to vaunt himself into the Presidency. Newspaper circulation numbers and journalist employment levels are dropping. Nevertheless this talk will argue that, at certain elite publications, a lot of journalism is more accurate, more quantitative and more explanatory than ever– and this elite journalism, paradoxically, matters less than ever to American political discourse.

This talk tries to get at these issues by taking a trip back into the recent past, and examining the origins of our modern form of quantified journalism. It outlines five reasons why data journalism exists in its present day form, reasons that lead back to the intellectual dynamics of the 1960s and 1970s. I look at (1) the work of the Russell Sage Foundation, Columbia University, and the University of Wisconsin in promoting the “social sciences in the media” initiative in the early 1960s; (2) an emerging vision of computers and databases that allowed them to be integrated into journalistic work; (3) changing notions of what was meant by “investigative reporting” in the 1970s; (4) academic developments in journalism schools; and (5) a long-term crisis in notions of journalistic objectivity in the 1960s, in part prompted by the emergence of “the new journalism” at about the same time.

Beyond simply complicating our understanding of the sociology of data journalism, this more nuanced history allows us to better understand why data journalism has achieved such prestige today, why it nevertheless remains an outlier in most newsrooms, and how it has navigated the larger crisis in objective knowledge production gripping not only newswork but academia in general.
C. W. Anderson is Associate Professor at the College of Staten Island (CUNY); as of the Fall of 2017 he will be a Professor of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds. He is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of multiple books and articles on digital journalism, sociology, political communication, and science and technology studies.

Designing Feminist Research Technologies

MAX LIBOIRON
Assistant Professor in Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland
Director,  Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research

April 25th, 2017 | 11a – 12:30p | Atkinson 4004

Feminist technology often refers to technologies that deal with issues of gender and equity. But recently, hackers, scholars, and designers have asked how we would design and create technologies that embody the values of feminism—equity, justice, and social transformation—that anyone can use for any purpose, including research. In this workshop, we will apprentice with Dr. Max Liboiron, director of Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), a feminist marine pollution lab in northern Canada. As a case study, participants will design feminist technologies for monitoring marine plastic pollution to learn how research instruments can embody the values and politics of feminism. The final portion of the workshop will focus on how these making and doing practices can inflect participants’ own research projects.

Max Liboiron is a scholar, activist, and artist. She is an Assistant Professor in Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where she directs Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), a feminist marine science and technology laboratory that specializes in citizen science and grassroots environmental monitoring of plastic pollution. Her academic work focuses on how invisible yet harmful emerging phenomena such as toxicants from marine plastics become apparent in science and activism, and how these methods of representation relate to action. Liboiron also runs Discard Studies, an interdisciplinary hub for research on waste and wasting.  Prior to her position at Memorial, Liboiron was a Postdoctoral Fellow with both the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University and with Intel’s Science and Technology Centre for Social Computing. She holds a Ph.D. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University.

Mixing It Up: How to Design and Execute Interdisciplinary Research (without killing your collaborators in the process)

MARY GRAY
Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research New England
Fellow, Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Associate Professor of the Media School, with affiliations in American Studies, Anthropology, and Gender Studies at Indiana University.

12:30p – 2:00p, Thursday, March 2nd
MCC 127

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humanists’ critically-oriented scholarship has long struggled with when and how to best weave together quantitative and qualitative approaches to lines of inquiry. Even when they could be used to complement each other, computational and critical methodological tools are often positioned as “at odds” with or epistemologically antithetical to each other. While methodologies always hinge on the research question at hand, there are few questions about the social, cultural, economic, or political implications of “the Internet” that can afford to ignore either the “big data” produced by social interactions online or the everyday engagements and social contexts that make those interactions socially meaningful. Rather than assume that quantitative measurement and qualitative, critical interpretation are epistemological chasms, what could it look like to bridge computational and qualitative divides?

This workshop draws on the presenter’s multi-year, multi-modal study of crowdsourcing—calls for work, distributed online, through an API—as a form of employment to examine strategies for investigating ethnographically rich, data-intensive problems. Research questions, like “How is the nature of work changing through new forms of digital disaggregation and distribution?” require not only sifting and sorting through massive amounts of data but also iterating between them and people’s everyday experiences of these information and computational systems. We examine ways to effectively and rigorously extract, interpret, and learn from very large datasets and put them in conversation with surveys, participant-observation, ethnographic interviews and fieldnotes, that require new approaches to collaborative research and theory-building.

Mary Gray is the author of In Your Face: Stories from the Lives of Queer Youth (Haworth Press, 1999) and Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America (NYU Press, 2009). She received her PhD from the Department of Communication at University of California, San Diego.

2016 Open House & Ethnography Practicum

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The annual SED Open House will be held from 4-6p on Tuesday the 29th. Like last year, we’ll be holding the Open House in the Mandeville Suite, which in on the 11th floor of Tioga Hall in Muir College. Come to meet faculty and graduate students who are interested in ethnography and to hear about SED’s plans for the winter and spring quarters. Amongst other things, we plan to offer programming that explores the intersection of ethnographic practice and political engagement, broadly construed.

Second, starting this January SED will be sponsoring an Ethnography Practicum. The practicum is for graduate students and faculty who are currently working — at any stage — on an ethnographic project. It is a chance to workshop aspects of your project and to learn from fellow practitioners. The practicum will meet once a month throughout winter and spring quarters. Each month different faculty will be invited based on the issues or dilemmas that students want to address at that month’s meeting. Students can receive course credit (pass/no-pass) for the practicum by enrolling in ANTH 287, COGR 285, or ETHN 287 for the spring 2017 quarter. To receive course credit a student will need to attend the six practicums as well as 4 SED programming events over the span of the winter and spring quarters; exceptions and accommodations can be made for extenuating circumstances such as conference travel, job interviews, health issues, and so forth. Please note that the ethnographic practicum is meant as a supplement, not a replacement, for the ethnographic methods courses offered by various departments.

If you are interested in participating in the practicum, whether for course credit or just as an occassional attendee, please fill out this short form:

https://goo.gl/forms/0prjknG2ZJGlf1ys1

Winter/Spring 2016 SED Schedule

Thursday June 2nd – Year End Open House. 5:30-7:30pm, SME 408. Come help us celebrate this past year and look forward to the next! Refreshments will be served.

January 7th – Performance Ethnography Lab I: Table Reading of work-in-progress ethnographic play I WAS NEVER ALONE, Cassandra Hartblay (UCSD Communication Postdoc) – 12:00-2:00pm

January 14th – Carceral Societies: Victor Rios (UCSB) – 12:30-1:45pm, Informal Lunch Discussion on methodology 2-3.

January 29th – Infrastructures: Hannah Appel (UCLA Anthropology), Akhil Gupta (UCLA Anthropology), race and infrastructure working group – 1-3pm, SME 408.

February 8th – ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION. Digital Practice: Doing Work – ethnographic, artistic, political, and otherwise – about and through the Internet. With Gabriella Coleman (McGill University), Chris Kelty (UCLA), Roderic Crooks (UCLA), Ricardo Dominguez (UCSD). 3-5pm, SME 408.

February 11th – Internet Infrastructures: Ashwin Mathew (Berkeley) “Protocol as an Ethnographic Fieldsite” – 11-12:30pm, SME 408

February 25th – Philippe Bourgois (University of Pennsylvania Anthropology) – 12:30-1:45pm

April 1st – Performance Ethnography Lab II: Performing Ethnography in the Classroom – Saiba Varma (UCSD Anthropology) and Utpal Sandesara (UPenn Anthropology) –  2-4pm, SME 408

April 25th – “La Racha: Speed and Violence in Tijuana” – A discussion of a paper by Rihan Yeh (El Colegio de Michoacán) – 12-2pm, SME 408.

April 27th – Performance Ethnography Lab III: An Archaeology of Multi-Media: Studies in Materiality and Form – Roshanak Kheshti (UCSD Ethnic Studies) discusses new work – 12-2pm, SME 408.

May 6th-7th – Seminar on Sensory Ethnography: Kathleen Stewart (UT Austin), Marina Peterson (Ohio University), Lesley Stern (UCSD), Cristina Rivera-Garza (UCSD) and Katrin Pesch (UCSD).  Friday May 6th  from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. in SME 408.
Download the seminar readings here.


Monday, November 9th: SED Open House

SED 2015 Open House

Please join us on November 9th, 5:30-7pm, for a SED Open House. There will be light refreshments, a touch of feminist theory theater, opportunities to interact with fellow SEDistas, and a run-down of our upcoming events for the year.

Multi-sited Ethnographies: A Conversation Across the Social Sciences

multi-sited ethnographies SED event_finalMONDAY, May 18th
12:00 – 1:30 PM
VISUAL ARTS @ SME (STRUCTURAL & MATERIALS ENGINEERING), ROOM 408

Join SED for a discussion on multi-sited ethnographic research design co-hosted with the New Directions in Culture, Power, and History Group in Anthropology. More and more, ethnographers carry out their research in many sites, often across borders, in radically different spaces and environments. What are the challenges and benefits of doing this sort of research? We have gathered three UCSD scholars to discuss their experiences carrying out such research, focusing on the ways they theorize their own methods. This informal lunch time discussion will enact a conversation about ethnography, the challenges and possibilities of multi-sited research across the social sciences. Graduate students considering how to frame their own multi-sited research projects are encouraged to attend.

Abigail Andrews is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Urban Studies and Planning at UCSD. She studies the intersection of development, migration, and gender, with a focus on the relationships between Mexico and the United States. Most of her research is based on a cross-border ethnography of Mexican sending communities and their migrants in the United States. Her current book manuscript explores how practices of state power in local sites on each side of the border influence migrants’ paths into and out of the United States. It then considers how migrant communities respond to exclusion and exploitation, sparking new forms of cross-border political advocacy. In this work — and following the interactions across transnational migrants communities — Professor Andrews grapples with the question of how power and politics operate across place.

David Pederson is an Associate Professor in Anthropology at UCSD. He is the author of American Value: Migrants, Money and Meaning in El Salvador and the United States, published in the University of Chicago Press series, ‘Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning’ in 2014. He is writing a new book, entitled Lethal Haven, about the role of warfare in the establishment of the US dollar as a world currency. In his research, Pedersen has developed a semiotic approach for studying the relationship between immediately perceivable phenomena and larger geohistorical tendencies, predicated on conducting ethnographic research across multiple locales and according to varied foci and scales of analysis.

Elana Zilberg is an Associate Professor in the Communication Department at UCSD and the co-founder and director of the Studio for Ethnographic Design at UCSD. Her book Space of Detention: The Making of a Transnational Gang Crisis between Los Angeles and San Salvador (Duke University Press 2011) is a multi-sited ethnographic account and spatial analysis of how transnational gangs became an issue of central concern for national and regional security between the U.S. and Central America. Her new project on river revitalization in the Southwestern United States and U.S. – Mexico border regions extends her interest in the urban built environment and the geography and spatial expression of race, into the domains of urban nature, infrastructure, and environmental justice.

Suggested Reading(s):
TBA

Wednesday, April 29th: Ethnography | A prototype – Alberto Corsín Jiménez

Jiménez SED event poster

WEDNESDAY, April 29th
4:00 – 6:00 PM
VISUAL ARTS @ SME (STRUCTURAL & MATERIALS ENGINEERING), ROOM 408

Join SED for a talk by Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid. Professor Jiménez will discuss the politics of prototyping at the intersection of ethnographic design and free culture activism. This talk describes a long-term collaborative project with a variety of free culture activists in Madrid: digital artists, Occupy assemblies and guerrilla architectural collectives. Coming of age as Spain walked into the abyss of the economic crisis, Jiménez describes how the research team was forced to re- function the ethnographic project into a ‘prototype’- a notion borrowed from free culture activism. These ethnographic prototypes allowed the team to argue with collaborators *about* the city at the same time as we argued *through* the city. Providing a symmetrical counterpoint to the actions of free culture hackers elsewhere in the city, these anthropological prototypes were both a cultural signature of the radical praxis taking place in Madrid today and its expressive infrastructure.

Alberto Corsín Jiménez has recently completed a book, A trompe l’oeil anthropology for a common world (Berghahn 2013), and edited a special issue on “Prototyping Cultures” for the Journal of Cultural Economy (2014). He is also the editor of Culture and well-being: anthropological approaches to freedom and political ethics (Pluto 2008) and The anthropology of organisations (Ashgate 2007). He is a founding member of Ciudad Escuela (http://ciudad-escuela.org/), an open-source urban pedagogical platform.g.

Suggested Reading:
TBA

Wednesday, April 22nd: Documentary Theatre and Ethnographic Practice | Workshop with Paul Flores and Alex Sanchez

SED Placas Theatre Workshop Poster

WEDNESDAY, April 22nd
3:00 – 5:00 PM
VISUAL ARTS @ SME (STRUCTURAL & MATERIALS ENGINEERING), ROOM 408

The Studio for Ethnographic Design presents playwright Paul Flores and gang peacemaker Alex Sanchez. Flores will discuss the relevance of ethnographic practice in developing his documentary theatre work PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo. The workshop will also feature Sanchez, who will reflect upon his experience in collaborating with academics, journalists, and artists in general, and ethnographers in particular, in developing projects of mutual concern.

Workshop participants will discuss the intersections between ethnography and theatre as sites for collaboration and social transformation. Using PLACAS as an example, participants will engage with ethnographic research techniques geared towards building documentary theatre.

Suggested Reading:
PLACAS Study Guide.