Colloquium: PSU prof talks NGO-led media campaigns in Uganda

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On Wednesday, February 11, Assistant Professor Lee Shaker of Portland State University will be talking about NGO-led media campaigns in Uganda that simultaneously attempt to demand government accountability while not offending the ruling political class. Details are below.

Parallel Priming: Using Rap News to Raise the Salience of Political Corruption in Uganda

Date: Wednesday Feb. 11
Time: 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Location: CMU 126

Abstract: This presentation describes the creation and effects of a weekly rap news program, Newz Beat, produced by an NGO, Peripheral Vision International (PVI), in Uganda. PVI aims to cultivate democratic norms and values in Uganda by disseminating news to a national broadcast audience – but it operates in a context that does not offer unfettered freedom of speech. Consequently, creative approaches are often necessary to fulfill PVI’s mission. Here, I report on an experimental study designed to evaluate one such tactic: parallel priming.

As with many other sub-Saharan nations, many of Uganda’s problems can be tied together with a common thread: political corruption. Galvanizing public support for government accountability may, then, facilitate progress in many areas relating to health, economics, education etc. But it is not practically feasible to do so by directly critiquing authoritarian political leaders. So, in order to raise the salience of political corruption, PVI produced a series of stories detailing political corruption outside of Uganda for episodes of Newz Beat. Preliminary research indicates that these stories did prime the importance of corruption in subjects’ evaluations of Uganda’s government. These results suggest that viewers may use international news to contextualize domestic politics – but guiding the precise outcome of this comparative process may be challenging.

Lee ShakerBio: Lee Shaker is a mass & political communication scholar. His primary interest lies in understanding the ways that new communication technologies affect society. As part of this, several of his recent articles assess how the changing media environment alters the relationship that citizens have with their local communities. For example, Dead Newspapers and Citizens’ Civic Engagement measures the effect of local newspaper closures upon citizens’ civic and political engagement. His current research turns to more fundamental questions about information consumption, retention, and analysis in the digital age.