Communication, Politics and World Affairs: Research Roundup

By Asma Farooq, MPC2017

Photo Credit - Ronda Darby, Instagram

Given the recent attention that the American election has garnered, it is only fitting that this issue of the PCAA newsletter focus on politics and world affairs. Lucky for us, quite a few MRPs have shed light on this topic.

Project – Political crises: Chris Christie responds to “Bridgegate” (by Victoria Larson, MPC 2014)

Looking at a politician’s response in the midst of a crisis across various platforms, Victoria Larson contextualizes her study using the example of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during the Bridgegate crisis. Using Benoit’s image repair theory, this study notes the use of tactics such as denial, evasion of responsibility, reducing offensiveness, corrective action and mortification in Governor Christie’s press conference responses, responses to reporters and tweets. Victoria notes that corrective action and mortification strategies were most commonly used. Finally, she recommends that two new subcategories (repentance and taking responsibility) be added within the strategy of mortification.

Project – Social media and democracy: How the Facebook usage patterns of Toronto city councilors influence political engagement ( by Christian Campbell, MPC 2014) 

With the Internet’s initial rise, there were hopes that politicians would deploy this newly discovered media platform to communicate directly with the public. This would help achieve the goal of increasing political engagement and enriching democracy. As it turns out, instead of fostering interactivity, most political websites simply disseminate information one-way.

With social media sites coming to the forefront, politicians have yet another chance to interact with the public through media that is more conducive to two-way communication. In light of the widespread uptake and usage of various social media platforms, Christian Campbell argues that these sites could facilitate public discourse and dialogue on political matters, leading to greater engagement. Focusing on how a group of municipal councilors in Toronto use social media, he notes that these politicians are expected to know their public more intimately than their provincial and federal counterparts. Christian’s choice of media for analysis is Facebook, because it offers politicians the opportunity to engage most with the public.

Project – A little birdie told me: Journalistic and individualistic Twitter use of local television news reporters (by Laura Baker, MPC 2014) 

The aims of journalism often include safeguarding democratic values, making it integral to modern-day politics. In addition to traditional news sources, Twitter has emerged as a platform for distribution for broadcast and print news channels. Studying how news reporters from various local stations in Toronto use Twitter, Laura Baker learns that there is often a blurring of personal and professional use of the platform. While gatekeeping still plays a key role in determining content to be journalistic or otherwise, reporters do sometimes utilize Twitter in a manner that inspires personal observations.