Digital Journalism Call for Papers: Special Issue on Policy Issues in Digital Journalism

Digital Journalism

As the production, distribution, and consumption of journalism increasingly moves online, new journalism-related policy issues are arising, and many established journalism-related policy issues are developing new layers of complexity and relevance (Napoli & Stonbely, 2018).  The relationship between governments and the press varies greatly around the world, which has meant that, in this time of rapid technological, institutional, and behavioral change, we have seen a wide array of policy actions and debates that directly affect digital journalism.  Thus, the opportunities – and need – for international and comparative research are particularly strong.

There is of course an inherent tension between government interventions in journalism and the notion of a free and independent press; and public attitudes toward government intervention in the structure and activities of the news media vary greatly across national contexts (Newman, et al., 2018).  Yet it is also the case in many countries that policy interventions are being proposed or implemented in an effort to assure the survival of a free and independent press (Cagé, 2016).  In addition, growing concerns about the relationship between news consumption and a well-informed citizenry (Cacciatore, et al., 2018), and about declining trust in journalistic institutions (Barthel & Mitchell, 2017; Newman, et al., 2018), have created a scenario in which the stakes surrounding journalism-related policymaking have, perhaps, never been higher.  Therefore, the need for rigorous research to inform and evaluate media policymaking has perhaps never been stronger.

The increasing influence of social media platforms and content aggregators in local, national, and international journalism ecosystems has had disruptive effects that have raised a wide array of policy issues and concerns (see, e.g., Bell, 2017; Napoli, in press; Vaidhyanathan, 2018).  Policymakers have initiated efforts to address digital journalism issues such as the dissemination of fake news and disinformation, and the economic relationship between aggregators and news organizations (Napoli & Stonbely, 2018).  In addition, more traditional concerns such as ownership concentration, subsidy mechanisms, and diversity in the production and consumption of news, continue to challenge policymakers, though the canvas on which they seek to address these problems has changed dramatically (Napoli & Stonbely, 2018).

Rigorous research is essential to well-informed media policymaking.  Given the rate of technological, behavioral, and institutional change in the digital sphere, the uncertainty that such change creates for policymakers, and the rising stakes associated with policymaking around digital journalism, there is a compelling need for research that can inform and assess contemporary digital journalism policy.  And, given the complex intersection of technological, political, economic, and media-related issues that characterizes policymaking and policy analysis related to digital journalism, it is particularly important that researchers from a wide array of disciplinary backgrounds contribute research in this area.

This special issue of Digital Journalism invites scholars to examine contemporary media policymaking that has direct implications for, or applications to, digital journalism.  This special issue seeks to showcase a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, across a diversity of national contexts.  Cross-national comparative analyses are particularly welcome, as are empirical studies that can contribute to evidence-driven policymaking.

Possible topics to be addressed in this special issue include, but are not limited to:

  • Evaluating implemented and proposed regulations and policies directed at fake news and disinformation
  • Cross-national comparative analyses of policy issues or interventions
  • Subsidy mechanisms for digital journalism
  • Government censorship and digital journalism
  • Policy interventions directed at the economic relationship between news organizations and content aggregators
  • Ownership concentration and regulation in digital media and its relationship to journalism
  • Evolving perspectives on freedom of the press
  • The structural and behavioral dynamics of digital journalism ecosystems that can inform policymaking
  • Policies related to public service media and their digital presence
  • Policy implications of changing patterns of news consumption
  • Copyright issues related to the aggregation and dissemination of digital news
  • Theoretical and methodological issues in digital journalism-related policy research

Information about Submissions

Proposals should include the following: an abstract of 500-750 words (not including references) as well as background information on the author(s), including an abbreviated bio that describes previous and cur- rent research that relates to the special issue theme. Please submit your proposal as one file (PDF) with your names clearly stated in the file name and the first page. Send your proposal to the e-mail address philip.napoli@duke.edu by the date stated in timeline below. Authors of accepted proposals are expected to develop and submit their original article, for full blind review, in accordance with the journal's peer-review procedure, by the deadline stated. Articles should be between 6500 and 7000 words in length. Guidelines for manuscripts can be found here.

Timeline

Abstract submission deadline: January 4, 2019
Notification on submitted abstracts: February 4, 2019
Article submission deadline: June  7, 2019

Editorial information

  • Guest Editor: Philip M. Napoli, Duke University
  • Editor-in-Chief: Oscar Westlund