Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication

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Christopher Anderson

Professor of Media and Communication

0113 343 5814

Clothworkers' Building North, Room 2.18

Office hours: by appointment.

BA (Indiana University) PhD (Columbia University)

Biography

C.W. Anderson is Professor of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds and member of the board of advisors at the Tow Center, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Professor Anderson studies journalism, politics, and how the production of public knowledge is being transformed in the digital age. He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of 4 books:  Rebuilding the News (Temple University Press), The SAGE Handbook of Digital Journalism (with Tamara Witscghe, David Domingo, and Alfred Hermida); Remaking News (with Pablo Boczkowski, The MIT Press), and News: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Michael Schudson and Len Downie, Oxford University Press). He has written academic articles on digital journalism, sociology, political communication, and science and technology studies and more popular pieces for a variety of online websites and blogs. He is completing work on a manuscript tentatively titled Apostles of Certainty: Data Journalism and the Politics of Doubt (Oxford University Press). From 2001 – 2008 Chris was an editor and organizer at NYC Indymedia, one of the world’s first ”citizen journalism” websites. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 2009 under the supervision of Prof. James W. Carey and Prof. Todd Gitlin.

Research Interests

C.W Anderson’s primary research interests include:

  • journalism studies, particularly the sociology of digital news
  • the history of data journalism, and quantitative methodologies more broadly
  • the aesthetics and emotions of journalism, visuals in the news, and the ”feelings” that underlie the deployment of numerical information
  • science and technology studies
  • the sociology of knowledge
  • political theory and normative theories of the public sphere

He would welcome doctoral students interested in any of these or related subjects.

Teaching

At Leeds, C.W Anderson supervises the following module:

  • COMM1210 The History of Communication

He has supervised the following module:

  • COMM5655 Journalism Practice and Policy

He contributes guest lectures to the following modules:

  • COMM1320 Journalism, Politics and Society
  • COMM 5780 Digital Practices

Responsibilities

Director of Postgraduate Studies.

Publications

Books

  • Anderson CW, Apostles of Certainty: Data Journalism and the Politics of Doubt, Oxford Studies in Digital Politics (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2018) (Accepted)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/132706/

    From data-rich infographics to 140 character tweets and activist cell phone photos taken at political protests, 21st century journalism is awash in new ways to report, display, and distribute the news. Computational journalism, in particular, has been the object of recent scholarly and industry attention as large datasets, powerful algorithms, and growing technological capacity at news organizations seemingly empower journalists and editors to report the news in creative ways. Can journalists use data―along with other forms of quantified information such as paper documents of figures, data visualizations, and charts and graphs―in order to produce better journalism? In this book, C.W. Anderson traces the genealogy of data journalism and its material and technological underpinnings, arguing that the use of data in news reporting is inevitably intertwined with national politics, the evolution of computable databases, and the history of professional scientific fields. It is impossible to understand journalistic uses of data, Anderson argues, without understanding the oft-contentious relationship between social science and journalism. It is also impossible to disentangle empirical forms of public truth telling without first understanding the remarkably persistent Progressive belief that the publication of empirically verifiable information will lead to a more just and prosperous world. Anderson considers various types of evidence (documents, interviews, informational graphics, surveys, databases, variables, and algorithms) and the ways these objects have been used through four different eras in American journalism (the Progressive Era, the interpretive journalism movement of the 1930s, the invention of so-called "precision journalism," and today's computational journalistic moment) to pinpoint what counts as empirical knowledge in news reporting. Ultimately the book shows how the changes in these specifically journalistic understandings of evidence can help us think through the current "digital data moment" in ways that go beyond simply journalism.

  • Boczkowski PJ, Anderson CW, Remaking the News: Essays on the Future of Journalism Scholarship in the Digital Age (MIT Press, 2017)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127471/

    The use of digital technology has transformed the way news is produced, distributed, and received. Just as media organizations and journalists have realized that technology is a central and indispensable part of their enterprise, scholars of journalism have shifted their focus to the role of technology. In Remaking the News, leading scholars chart the future of studies on technology and journalism in the digital age. These ongoing changes in journalism invite scholars to rethink how they approach this dynamic field of inquiry. The contributors consider theoretical and methodological issues; concepts from the social science canon that can help make sense of journalism; the occupational culture and practice of journalism; and major gaps in current scholarship on the news: analyses of inequality, history, and failure.

  • Anderson CW, Downie Jr L, Schudson M, The News Media: What Everyone Needs to Know? (Oxford University Press, 2016)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127470/

  • Witschge T, Anderson CW, Domingo D, Hermida A, The SAGE Handbook of Digital Journalism (SAGE, 2016)
    DOI: 10.4135/9781473957909, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127473/

    The production and consumption of news in the digital era is blurring the boundaries between professionals, citizens and activists. Actors producing information are multiplying, but still media companies hold central position. Journalism research faces important challenges to capture, examine, and understand the current news environment. The SAGE Handbook of Digital Journalism starts from the pressing need for a thorough and bold debate to redefine the assumptions of research in the changing field of journalism.

  • Anderson CW, Rebuilding the News Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age (Temple University Press, 2013)

    Breaking down the walls of the traditional newsroom, Rebuilding the News traces the evolution of news reporting as it moves from print to online.

Journal articles

  • Anderson CW, Revers M, ‘From Counter-Power to Counter-Pepe: The Vagaries of Participatory Epistemology in a Digital Age’, Media and Communication, 6.4 (2018) (Accepted)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/132705/

    This article reconstructs the evolution of societal and journalistic meta-discourse about the participation of ordinary citizens in the news production process. We do so through a genealogy of what we call “participatory epistemology,” defined here as a form of journalistic knowledge in which professional expertise is modified through 19 public interaction. It is our argument that the notion of “citizen participation in news process” has not simply functioned as a normative concept but has rather carried with it a particular understanding of what journalists could reasonably know, and how their knowledge could be enhanced by engaging with the public in order to produce journalistic work. By examining four key moments in the evolution of participatory epistemology, as well as the discursive webs that have surrounded these moments, we aim to demonstrate some of the factors which led a cherished and utopian concept to become a dark and dystopian one. In this, we supplement the work of Quandt (2018, this issue) and add some historical flesh to the conceptual arguments of his article on “dark participation.”

  • Witschge T, Anderson CW, Domingo D, Hermida A, ‘Dealing with the mess (we made): Unraveling hybridity, normativity, and complexity in journalism studies’, Journalism 2018 (Accepted)
    DOI: 10.1177/1464884918760669, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/128897/

    © 2018, The Author(s) 2018. In this article, we discuss the rise and use of the concept of hybridity in journalism studies. Hybridity afforded a meaningful intervention in a discipline that had the tendency to focus on a stabilized and homogeneous understanding of the field. Nonetheless, we now need to reconsider its deployment, as it only partially allows us to address and understand the developments in journalism. We argue that if scholarship is to move forward in a productive manner, we need, rather than denote everything that is complex as hybrid, to develop new approaches to our object of study. Ultimately, this is an open invitation to the field to adopt experientialist, practice-based approaches that help us overcome the ultimately limited binary dualities that have long governed our theoretical and empirical work in the field.

  • Anderson CW, ‘Venture Labor, the News Crisis, and Journalism Education’, International Journal of Communication, 11 (2017), 2033-2036
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127603/

    This essay applies Neff’s venture labor concept to crisis in journalistic production and attempts by journalism schools to reconcile their roles of training students for a professional workforce with the slow-motion disintegration of that workforce. Specifically, it looks at entrepreneurial journalism training programs in the United States and the complex ways these programs both reify and challenge notion of venture labor.

  • Anderson CW, ‘Social survey reportage: Context, narrative, and information visualization in early 20th century American journalism’, Journalism, 18.1 (2017), 81-100
    DOI: 10.1177/1464884916657527, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127475/

    This article takes a historical approach to the analysis of changes in the gathering and display of documents and data by journalists. It stands as an attempt to tease out the underlying epistemological changes implied by these transformations. The transition from the 19th to the 20th century would see the rise of the so-called survey movement, itself tied to the emergence of the progressive movement and concomitant with the growth of new techniques for collecting and visualizing social data. Alongside the emergence of the social survey, and oddly related to it in a number of intriguing ways, this time period would also see the invention of public relations as a technique of press management. To this end, this article chronicles the social movement known as the ‘Men and Religion Forward Movement’, discussing its pioneering combination of data collection, information display, and aggressive publicity strategies in service of the cause of social reform. The article examines the materiality of the Men and Religion Forward Movement’s information collection procedures, its charts, graphs, and other display devices, and the processes by which these ‘representations of the collective’ did or did not manifest themselves in newspaper coverage of the movement.

  • Anderson CW, ‘Up and Out: Journalism, Social Media, and Historical Sensibility’, Social Media + Society, 1.1 (2015)
    DOI: 10.1177/2056305115578674, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127607/

    Much of the modern theorizing about journalism and communication attained its robustness due to a powerful convergence of distinct middle-range scholarly findings that emerged primarily in the 1970s and 1980s. In the present day, when we turn our analytical gaze to the relationship between journalism and social media, we thus need to strike a delicate balance between conducting new qualitative research, re-conceptualizing and re-interrogating the classic conclusions of political communication scholarship, and linking these two aspects of research together. However, we might also wish to extend our analytical gaze “out,” interrogating the movement of journalistic technology across history, as well as “up,” looking at how journalism fits within larger structural explanations regarding the shape of political life.

  • Anderson CW, ‘Between the Unique and the Pattern’, Digital Journalism, 3.3 (2015), 349-363
    DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2014.976407, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127477/

    This article proposes that the underlying ideas of data journalism are not new, but rather can be traced back in history and align with larger questions about the role of quantification in journalistic practice. This article sketches out a theoretical frame (assemblage theory) in which quantitative journalism is best understood by examining the objects of evidence that journalism mobilizes on its behalf. The article illustrates this perspective by outlining three historical tensions in notions of quantitative journalism: tensions between records and reports, individuality and social science, and isolated facts and broader patterns.

  • Anderson CW, De Maeyer J, ‘Objects of journalism and the news’, Journalism, 16.1 (2015), 3-9
    DOI: 10.1177/1464884914545728, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127478/

    This article provides an overview of what an “object-oriented” approach to journalism studies might look like, based on a survey of articles collected for this special issue on journalism and materiality. We argue that focusing on the objects of journalism, rather than limiting or trivial, can provide scholars with insights into the social, material, and cultural context that suffuses our technologically obsessed world. The article pushes back against a dominant perspective in the Actor-Network Theory literature that sees the major value of that theory in studying technological innovation, calling instead for a theoretical approach open to questions of historical change, power, and symbolic practices.

  • Fink K, Anderson CW, ‘Data Journalism in the United States’, Journalism Studies, 16.4 (2015), 467-481
    DOI: 10.1080/1461670X.2014.939852, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127476/

    Understanding the phenomenon of data journalism requires an examination of this emerging practice not just within organizations themselves, but across them, at the inter-institutional level. Using a semi-structured interview approach, we begin to map the emerging computational journalistic field. We find considerable variety among data journalists in terms of their educational backgrounds, skills, tools and goals. However, many of them face similar struggles, such as trying to define their roles within their organizations and managing scarce resources. Our cross-organizational approach allows for comparisons with similar studies in Belgium, Sweden, and Norway. The common thread in these studies is that the practice of data journalism is stratified. Divisions exist in some countries between resource-rich and resource-poor organizations and in other countries between the realm of discourse and the realm of practice.

  • Anderson CW, Kreiss D, ‘Black Boxes as Capacities for and Constraints on Action: Electoral Politics, Journalism, and Devices of Representation’, Qualitative Sociology, 36.4 (2013), 365-382
    DOI: 10.1007/s11133-013-9258-4

  • Anderson C, ‘What aggregators do: Towards a networked concept of journalistic expertise in the digital age’, Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, 14.8 (2013), 1008-1023
    DOI: 10.1177/1464884913492460

  • Anderson CW, ‘Deliberative, Agonistic, and Algorithmic Audiences: Journalism's Vision of its Public in an Age of Audience Transparency’, International Journal of Communication, 2011.5 (2011), 529-547

    Building on earlier empirical work in newsrooms, this paper contends that a fundamental transformation has occurred in journalists’ understanding of their audiences. A new level of responsiveness to the agenda of the audience is becoming built into the DNA of contemporary news work. This article argues, however, that this journalistic responsiveness to the “agenda of the audience” has multiple, often contradictory meanings. It traces these out through a critical-historical sketch of key moments in the journalism-audience relationship, including the public journalism movement, Independent Media Center (Indymedia), and Demand Media. These different visions of the audience are correlated to different images of democracy, and they have different sociological implications. The public journalism movement believed in a form of democracy that was conversational and deliberative; in contrast, traditional journalism embraced an aggregative understanding of democracy, while Indymedia's democratic vision could best be seen as agonistic in nature. Demand Media and similar ventures, this article concludes, may be presaging an image of public that can best be described as algorithmic. Understanding this algorithmic conception of the audience may be the first step into launching a broader inquiry into the sociology and politics of algorithms

  • Anderson CW, ‘Journalistic Networks and the Diffusion of Local News: The Brief, Happy News Life of the “Francisville Four’, Political Communication, 27.3 (2010), 289-309
    DOI: 10.1080/10584609.2010.496710

  • Polletta F, Pang Ching Chen B, Anderson CW, ‘Is Information Good For Deliberation? Link-Posting in an Online Forum’, Journal of Public Deliberation 2009, 32-52

    Does information improve deliberation? Proponents of online deliberation argue that the availability of the Internet can solve two longstanding problems of citizen decisionmaking: that preexisting inequalities tend to be reproduced rather than minimized in deliberative forums and that citizen decisionmaking sacrifices the benefits of expertise. Because all deliberators online can access information during their discussion, deliberation should be more informed and more equal. We put those claims to the test by analyzing URL-link posting in an online deliberative forum composed of 25 deliberating groups. On the positive side of the ledger, we show that participants did take advantage of the informational capacities of the web. URL-link posting not only generated more interaction than did opinions posted without links but it also responded to what we call the scale and uptake problems of public deliberation. On the negative side of the ledger, far from equalizing deliberation, the availability of online information may have given additional advantages to already advantaged groups. This was true even in groups that were actively facilitated. The availability of online information may also have fostered discussions, in some instances, that were more opinionated than informed. Information in the Internet age is newly accessible, we conclude, but is also politicized in unfamiliar ways.

Chapters

  • Anderson CW, Caswell D, ‘Computational Journalism’, in The International Encyclopedia of Journalism Studies, ed. by Vos T and Hanusch F (Wiley, 2018) (Accepted)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/132458/

    Computational Journalism is defined as a practice in which journalistic knowledge is represented computationally, as systems of discrete categories or as numbers, during reporting, analysis, distribution or consumption. This is in contrast to traditional journalism, in which journalistic knowledge is reported, analyzed, distributed, and consumed as natural language text or speech, whether in analog or digital media. Journalistic knowledge is defined as externally-represented knowledge that is under human editorial control in the service of journalistic values. In this entry, we review the development of computational journalism as a practice and as a field of study before examining the inherent tensions which structure it as a field.

  • Anderson CW, ‘Newsroom Ethnography and Historical Context’, in Remaking the News: Essays on the Future of Journalism in the Digital Age, ed. by Boczkowski PJ and Anderson CW, Inside Technology (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2017)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127699/

  • Anderson CW, ‘News Ecosystems’, in The Sage Handbook of Digital Journalism, ed. by Witschge T and others (London, UK: SAGE, 2016)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127605/

    This chapter discusses the notion of “getting outside” the newsroom in the digital age, inspired by Zelizer’s argument that much of what matters about journalism today does not take place in the newsroom itself (Zelizer 2004). It begins with a brief overview of the different ways that scholars have understood this process of getting inside and outside newsrooms. The second part of the chapter argues that we must also consider an additional road forward—the ecosystemic approach to journalism research. It begins with a general overview of the increasing prevalence of the phrase “news ecosystem” in the digital era. It then discusses two uses of the term “ecosystem” in the media studies literature, before outlining several examples of research on emerging news ecosystems, each which draws upon a different, if unacknowledged, theoretical tradition.

  • Anderson CW, ‘Assembling publics, assembling routines, assembling values: journalistic self-conception and the crisis in journalism’, in The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered: Democratic Culture, Professional Codes, Digital Future, ed. by Alexander JC, Breese EB and Luengo M (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/127479/

Research Centres & Groups

At Leeds Professor Anderson is a member of the Journalism and Visual Communication Research groups and is a co-convener of the New Media research group.

External Appointments

  • Assistant editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics
  • Editorial board member of Journalism: Theory, Practice, Criticism
  • Editorial board member of Digital Journalism
  • Member of the board of advisors at the Tow Center, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Co-editor of Public Seminar, a leading journal housed in the New School for Social Research

Links

http://cwanderson.org

© Copyright Leeds 2018