Featured faculty research presentations

Gina NeffGina Neff, Assistant Professor of Communication, provides a framework for thinking through the valorization of media content in emerging market conditions, with a particular focus on the work involved in making media products and the people who do this communication work.

Media and entertainment industries are undergoing significant restructuring. “Old” media are struggling to adapt in “new” media environments with increased competition for audiences, plummeting advertising revenue, and uncertain business models for content.

Neff compares three aspects of change in the way today’s media institutions manage labor: 1) the response of organized media and entertainment labor unions to digital distribution of products; 2) the proliferation of “reality” narratives in media content; and 3) the growing distribution of user-generated content, exemplified by YouTube. Watch the video >>

Faculty Research Awards and Fellowships

Lance BennettW. Lance Bennett and UW Computer Science professor Alan Borning received a $733,000 award from the NSF Social-Computational Systems Program for a three-year project titled Socio-Computational Systems to Support Public Engagement and Deliberation. Bennett and Borning are developing new ways for citizens and government to communicate. Their approach includes several innovative components, such as systems to facilitate adding crisp, relatively neutral summaries alongside advocacy statements; jointly authored position statements, with flexible ways to sign on to existing statements, fork new ones, and understand and track changes; and enhanced moderation techniques.  A partnership with the City of Seattle is enabling Bennett and Borning to test their ideas and systems in actual use.

The Swedish Research Council has selected Bennett to hold the national Olof Palme Chair for 2011. The Swedish Parliament (Riksdagen) created the Olof Palme Chair in 1987 in memory of the late Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, to promote research on conflict prevention and peace research in a broad sense, with particular regard to international politics and comparative studies on social institutions. Bennett will be in residence at Stockholm University during his tenure as the Olof Palme chair.

book coverPhilip Howard has a new book, Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam. Digital Origins investigates the impact of digital technologies on civic life in countries with significant Muslim communities. The book uses some innovative comparative methods to look at how technologies like the mobile phone and Internet have changed the very meaning of citizenship. Howard covers state capacity, political parties, journalism and civil society. There is also a chapter on how new technologies make some dictators better dictators. Read more about the book >>

Watch the video >>

Gerry PhilipsenThe Department collaborated with Oxford University and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in a New York City conference on humanitarian action, development and peace-building. The conference brought together more than two dozen experts. Gerry Philipsen, an international leader in how to conduct careful, ethical research grounded in local communities and populations, is the reason that the Department had a place at this table. One of the core principles in the Department is public scholarship. All too often, rigorous and relevant scholarship undertaken in colleges and universities does not become known to the broader society. Given the importance of communication in human affairs, it is necessary that our scholarship and citizenship go hand-in-hand. Thus, a core principle of the department is a commitment to take one’s research goals and findings beyond the academy. Students and faculty are encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue not only with academics, but also with other citizens, diverse communities, and political and cultural leaders. Such dialogue increases the potential transformative power of communication scholarship, while also fulfilling a central mission of a public research university. We take this seriously. It is a regular occurrence for Department faculty to give public talks, work on behalf of causes and candidates they support, partner with local organizations, serve as sources for news media on topics of the day, and convene important public conversations. Philipsen’s presence at the NYC conference is Public Scholarship at its finest.

Tourism Discourse book coverCrispin Thurlow, with Cardiff University Professor Adam Jaworski, has authored two books that present a unique perspective on the central role of language and communication in contemporary life. These two books arise from a large program of research Crispin has been involved in since 2001, work which will culminate in the publication later this year of a third, more ethnographically grounded book titled Language, Tourism, Globalization: The Sociolinguistics of Fleeting Relationships. The first book, Tourism Discourse: Language and Global Mobility, examines language ideologies and host-tourist relations in tourism.

Read more about the book >>

In their second book, Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space, Thurlow and Jaworski present an edited collection of essays that demonstrates nicely the ways language interacts with all other modalities such as visual images, nonverbal communication, and the built environment. Find more information about the book >>

Malcolm ParksMalcolm Parks will take over as editor in chief of the Journal of Communication. The Journal of Communication is the flagship research journal of the International Communication Association, one of the largest and most prestigious professional associations of scholars interested in communication. The journal is one of the most respected and frequently cited research journals in the discipline. Under Parks’ leadership, it will expand from four to six issues per year to accommodate the high number of quality research papers submitted annually.

Patricia MoyOxford University Press has invited Patricia Moy to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Bibliographies Online (Communication) (OBO), an authoritative online resource for various disciplines. The goal of this project is to provide a resource that allows students, scholars, and practitioners to filter a vast volume of information and sources to a manageable array of material that is reliable and directly relevant.


David DomkeDavid Domke received the Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association Division of Political Communication, for The God Strategy: How Religion Became A Political Weapon in America, (2008, Oxford University Press, with University of Arizona Assistant Professor and UW alum Kevin Coe). Dr. Domke’s areas of expertise are: political leadership and news coverage, cultural values, and social change, with particular interest in post-9/11 America.