Media Policy Initiative

Archives: Media Policy Initiative Policy Papers

Online Polls and Quizzes

  • By Natalie Jomini Stroud, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Assistant Director of Research at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin; Joshua Scacco, Research Assistant at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life; and Ashley Muddiman, Assistant Professor in the Communication & Journalism Department, University of Wyoming
November 20, 2013

Many news websites feature online polls. These polls typically ask site visitors about their opinions, such as whether they favor or oppose a new policy or who they think is likely to win an upcoming election. Online quizzes, where people are asked factual questions and then are told whether their responses are correct or incorrect, are less common. Both online polls and quizzes can be entertaining for site visitors, and can increase site visits and time spent on a page.

Social Media Buttons in Comment Sections

  • By Natalie Jomini Stroud, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Assistant Director of Research at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin; and Ashley Muddiman and Joshua Scacco, Research Assistants at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin
November 20, 2013

“Like.” Not only is it frequently used in casual conversations, the term also governs how we respond to everything from news articles to comments from our closest friends on Facebook. The term structures responses to online content. A heartwarming story about a local hero? “Like!” But “Like” doesn’t always seem appropriate. An article on a tragic event? It’s hard to hit “Like” in response. A fair-minded, but counter-attitudinal, post in a comment section? It’s challenging to press “Like.” What if news stations used other buttons?

Hyperlinking Prompts

  • By Natalie Jomini Stroud, Ashley Muddiman, and Joshua M. Scacco
November 20, 2013

Hyperlinks are standard fare on news websites. They can help site visitors find more information and learn more about important issues facing their communities. And from a business perspective, hyperlinks can increase time on site.

Journalist Involvement in Comment Sections

  • By Natalie Jomini Stroud, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Assistant Director of Research at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin; Joshua M. Scacco, Research Assistants at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin; Ashley Muddiman, Assistant Professor in the Communication and Journalism Department at the University of Wyoming; and Alex Curry, Research Assistant at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin
November 20, 2013

Incivility can run rampant in online comment sections. From a democratic angle, incivility on news sites creates reasons for concern. Social science research finds that incivility in the news depresses trust in government institutions. Even more, incivility in comment sections can affect readers’ beliefs. Calling this the “nasty effect,” University of Wisconsin Professors Brossard and Scheufele find that uncivil reader comments can change what people think about the news itself.

Which Corrections Work? Research Results and Practice Recommendations for Journalists

  • By Brendan Nyhan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Government, Dartmouth College and Jason Reifler, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics, University of Exeter
October 21, 2013

Social science research has found that misinformation about politics and other controversial issues is often very difficult to correct. However, all corrections are not necessarily equal -- some approaches to presenting corrective information may be more persuasive than others. In this report, we summarize new research in the field and present recommendations for journalists, educators, and civil society groups who hope to counter the influence of false or misleading claims.

The Effects of Fact-Checking Threat: Results From a Field Experiment in the States

  • By Brendan Nyhan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Government, Dartmouth College and Jason Reifler, Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics at the University of Exeter
October 8, 2013

In the United States, politicians are coming under increasing scrutiny from organizations like PolitiFact, Factcheck.org, and the Washington Post Fact Checker. Too often, traditional news organizations report what public officials say without evaluating the accuracy of their statements or attempting to arbitrate between competing factual claims. As a result, political figures are frequently allowed to make misleading comments in the press without challenge.

Making a Difference? A Critical Assessment of Fact-Checking in 2012

  • By Michelle A. Amazeen , Assistant Professor of Advertising, Department of Marketing, Advertising and Legal Studies at Rider University
October 8, 2013

The enterprise of fact-checking continues to proliferate throughout the U.S. news media to an unprecedented degree. While many welcome this trend, others question the effectiveness of fact-checking and some have even begun to push back. A common critique is that fact-checking has failed to eradicate deceptive and misleading claims by politicians and is therefore ineffective. Others have concerns about the presence of bias in fact-checking work.

Mobile Leapfrogging and Digital Divide Policy

  • By
  • Philip Napoli,
  • Jonathan Obar,
  • New America Foundation
April 1, 2013

This paper examines the emerging global phenomenon of mobile leapfrogging in Internet access. Leapfrogging refers to the process in which new Internet users are obtaining access by mobile devices and are skipping the traditional means of access: personal computers. This leapfrogging of PC-based Internet access has been hailed in many quarters as an important means of rapidly and inexpensively reducing the gap in Internet access between developed and developing nations, thereby reducing the need for policy interventions to address this persistent digital divide.

Digital Freedom of Expression in Uzbekistan

  • By Sarah Kendzior, PhD
July 18, 2012

The 2011 uprisings in the Middle East have prompted speculation about whether digital technology can and will be used to foment similar uprisings in former Soviet authoritarian states. This paper examines the relationship between political activism and internet freedom in Uzbekistan.  It argues that while the internet is a critical tool for political expression, its utility as a tool for activism is challenged both by threats from the government and by fear and apathy among Uzbek internet users.

Public Media Policy, Spectrum Policy, and Rethinking Public Interest Obligations for the 21st Century

  • By
  • Benjamin Lennett,
  • Tom Glaisyer,
  • Sascha Meinrath,
  • New America Foundation
June 21, 2012

In this paper we consider reforms and innovations in spectrum policy that would enable and sustain an expanded public media to better support quality news, journalism, education, arts, and civic information in the 21st century. The Internet has remade the landscape of free expression, access to news and information, and media production. Thus, we are well past the moment when spectrum allocated to broadcasting could be considered as distinct from that allocated to wireless broadband networks.

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