Standing for Vice-Chair of IAMCR Crisis, Security and Conflict Communication Working Group

IAMCR Crisis, Security and Conflict Communication Working Group

The International Association for Media and Communication Researchers (IAMCR) are hosting their elections for Section and Working Group Heads over the summer. I am standing as Vice-Chair for the Crisis, Security and Conflict Communication Working Group, with the (online) vote due to close on 14 September. Details on the WG, and how to vote, can be found here

My election statement can be found below:

I am a Senior Lecturer in Social Media & Digital Society at the University of Sheffield. My research focuses on social media sousveillance, digital activism and the use of digital media to promote better community relations in divided societies. Although I am primarily a qualitative researcher, I have also used Social Network Analysis to explore key broadcasters and gatekeepers within crisis hashtags, such as #PorteOuverte. 

I have been a member of IAMCR for the past six years, presenting my work at Leicester, Cartagena, Madrid and Nairobi (virtually) as part of panels organised by the Crisis, Security and Conflict Communication Working Group at Leicester, Cartagena.  I have always been particularly impressed by the diversity of the sessions organised by Rikke, Virpi and the team, which demonstrate the broad range of case studies, theoretical frameworks, and research methods in the field of crisis communication. During this time, the Working Group has excelled at facilitating collaborations between communication researchers based in countries as diverse as Australia, Chile,  Nigeria and South Africa. A cursory glance at the research interests  of members neatly illustrates its value as a ‘meeting point’ for scholars working in journalism studies, media and communication studies, and political communication.

If elected Vice-Chair, I would work with the Chair to promote the activities, accomplishments and publications of Group members. This would include drafting the call for papers,  reviewing abstracts and organising panels for the annual conference,  co-editing special issues of journals like Media, War and Conflict based on these papers, and increasing membership of the Group. My experience chairing panels at conferences e.g. ECPR, MeCCSA would also enable me to fulfil similar duties at IAMCR events. I believe it is vitally important that the diversity of the Group is consolidated, and would be happy to mentor early career researchers, particularly those from outside Europe and North America, who are new to presenting at international conferences.  I would also advocate trying to increase the number of crisis communication practitioners active within the Group, perhaps as part of a seminar series in the run-up to the annual conference. 

Drawing on my recent experience as Social Media and Publicity Officer for the MeCCSA Policy Network, I would prioritise building the Group’s social media presence, with a specific focus on using Twitter to curate a list of members and promote their work online. YouTube could also be used to share videos of both in-person and online seminars sponsored by the Group throughout the academic year.  Finally, I would explore the possibility of creating a mailing list in order to encourage members to share updates on their research activities. My experience to date suggests that these initiatives would consolidate the identity of the group whilst also encouraging future collaborations between its members. 

I am happy to answer any questions from members should they wish to contact me using the details below.

Stay safe and well.

Paul Reilly
Email: p.j.reilly@sheffield.ac.uk
Twitter: @PaulJReilly

VIEWdigital op-ed on future-proofing local journalism after COVID-19

uVIEWdigital op-ed on future of local journalism, 25 May 2021

I have an op-ed in VIEWdigital this week, which focuses on how to future-proof journalism after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drawing on my testimony to a hearing organised by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, my recommendations on how to improve media coverage of crises include:

1) Impose harsher penalties on social media companies for failing to remove misinformation and disinformation from their sites.

These could range from punitive fines to more radical measures such as recognising social media companies as media publishers.

2) Prioritise source criticism over objectivity in journalism.

False balance approaches that amplify inaccurate, unverified claims should be avoided. This approach should be implemented alongside existing factchecking initiatives (e.g. Full Fact) to counteract misinformation and disinformation during crises.

3) Protect public service media from government interference.

It is imperative that the editorial independence of these organisations is maintained in the future.

4) Provide financial support to the hyperlocal sector

Hyperlocal news sites should be given financial support from governments in order to reduce their reliance on digital advertising. For instance, the National Union of Journalists News Recovery Plan proposes that tax credits and interest free loans be provided to these outlets in order to ensure their sustainability.

5) Promote solutions journalism as a counterpoint to ‘snackable’ news coverage.

While there remains a need for more empirical evidence showing its impact on behaviour, solutions journalism is a corollary for encouraging citizens to think of collective rather than individual interests during these incidents.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it would be a start. As I argued previously, we should all do what we can to support local journalists, the ‘first responders’ during crises like the pandemic.

Thanks to Brian and Una for the opportunity. The piece can be read in full here

Expert testimony at Council of Europe Parliamentary Committee hearing on role of media in crises

Photo by Jem Stone/ CC BY

Last Friday I provided expert testimony to a hearing organised by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media. The session organised by Rapporteur Annicka Engblom (EPP/CD) focused on the role of the media in times of crises. The agenda can be found here.

In my contribution to the hearing, I drew on my research on social media, parades and protests in Northern Ireland and the #PorteOuverte hashtag during the 2015 November Paris Terror Attacks, as well as the findings from my two EC funded projects CascEff and IMPROVER. My recommendations included a call for greater funding for hyperlocal media and for social media companies to face harsher penalties for failing to remove misinformation and disinformation during crises.

Many thanks to Eugen Cibotaru for the invitation and his help with the logistics.

The Conversation UK article on social media and disasters published

My colleague Dr. Ioanna Tantanasi and I have published an article entitled ‘Social media’s not all bad- it’s saving lives in disaster zones‘ for the Conversation UK today. The piece draws on our CascEff and IMPROVER work on social media and crisis communication.  Thanks to Stephen Harris for his editorial support and the invitation to comment on this issue.

Paper presented at iConference 2018

My Research Assistant Rebecca Stevenson will be presenting preliminary results from our EC H2020 project IMPROVER at the 2018 iConference this week. This paper will discuss some of our recommended guidelines for effective crisis communication by critical infrastructure operators. The abstract can be found below:

Enhancing Critical Infrastructure resilience through information-sharing: Recommendations for European Critical Infrastructure Operators

Paul Reilly1, Elisa Serafinelli1, Rebecca Hannah Stevenson1, Laura Petersen2, Laure Fallou2

1University of Sheffield, United Kingdom; 2European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC)

This paper explores how critical infrastructure (CI) resilience can be improved through effective crisis communication between CI operators and members of the public. Drawing on academic and practice-based research into crisis and risk communication, as well as the results of 31 interviews conducted with key stakeholders from across Europe, the AESOP guidelines are proposed for enhancing the communication and information-sharing strategies of CI operators. These emphasise the importance of integrating both traditional and digital media into a multi-channel communication strategy that facilitates dialogue between CI operators and key stakeholders including emergency management organisations and representatives of local communities. The information-seeking behaviours of citizens should be evaluated by these organisations in order to ensure that this messaging reaches key demographics in disaster-vulnerable areas. This paper concludes by examining how post-disaster learning should be incorporated into a flexible framework for crisis and risk communication that manages public expectations about the time needed to restore services in the aftermath of large-scale incidents.

 

Rebecca’s presentation will take place in Lecture Theatre 5 in the Diamond on 28 March (09:00-10:30). The full paper can be accessed here

 

Research cited in UK Parliament POSTnote ‘Communicating Risk’

My CascEff research report on the role of social and traditional media in crisis communication has been cited in the UK Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology POSTnote 564: Communicating Risk. I was also one of several UK academics to be an invited reviewer of this publication. It can be downloaded here 

Job: Full-Time Research Associate (fixed term)

I am currently looking for a full-time Research Associate (fixed term for 5 months, to start as soon as possible with provisional end date of 30 May 2018, and probable extension to 31 August 2018) for my EC Horizon 2020 project IMPROVER: Improved risk evaluation and implementation of resilience concepts to critical infrastructure.’ The closing date for applications is 22 November 2017 and further details on the role can be found here

If you have any questions about the role please contact me at: P.J.Reilly@sheffield.ac.uk

Paper presented at Transition V: Developing Dialogic Communication conference, Bucharest

This morning my Research Associate Giuliana Tiripelli will present our paper “Challenges and opportunities of dialogic communication in crisis situations: Twitter, affective publics and the 2015 Channel Tunnel fire” at the Understanding Transition V: Developing Dialogic Communication conference at the University of Bucharest. The abstract for the paper can be found below:

Challenges and opportunities of dialogic communication in crisis situations: Twitter, affective publics, and the 2015 Channel Tunnel Fire.

Giuliana Tiripelli & Paul Reilly

 

 

The ‘ambient storytelling infrastructure’ of Twitter today enables ‘affective publics’ to present their own perspectives on events and issues (Papacharissi, 2015). This phenomenon challenges established top-down communicative dynamics, in which definitional power appeared to lie with institutions, organisations, and journalists rather than citizens, and seemingly presents new opportunities for dialogic communication between these actors in the digital age. At the same time, ‘affective publics’ “are mobilized … through expressions of sentiment” (Papacharissi, 2016: 311), creating new information flows that challenge the ability of organisations and journalists to channel communicative resources that manage public responses to crises. This paper explores this binary role of ‘affective publics’ in contemporary media ecologies through the study of the Twitter debate that emerged during the Channel Tunnel Fire. The incident on 17th January 2015, during which a lorry was set alight by an electricity bolt from overhead power lines, led to the evacuation of the passengers and significant disruption to Eurostar services for the next few days. Specifically, the study analyses the role played by journalists and Eurostar staff in the co-construction of meaning of the incident. A critical thematic analysis was conducted (Braun and Clarke 2006) to explore key themes of the 12,652 English-language tweets posted between the 17th and 19th January 2015. URL links shared in tweets were also classified using an inductively-developed content analysis codebook. Results indicate that Twitter accounts belonging to members of the public, rather than the affected organisation (Eurostar) or emergency institutions, were primarily responsible for starting information flows about the Channel Tunnel fire and subsequent disruptions. Although many tweets expressed gratitude for the professionalism of the company and their prompt reply to customer queries, the study suggested an ‘imbalance’ between organisations and private citizens in the co-creation of meaning of the incident in favour of the latter. One interpretation of this finding was that it was a manifestation of the increasingly important role played by flexible and mobile affective publics in defining news events within the contemporary ecology, often at the expense of less flexible news organisations and political institutions that operate in these online spaces. This may present practical problems for emergency managers during incidents such as the Channel Tunnel fire, especially when the cacophony of views on Twitter make it difficult to both filter and share real-time crisis information on the microblogging site. In this way, the paper adds to the emergent literature on dialogic communication and disasters by considering the extent to which the mobilisation of affective publics online challenges the ability of emergency managers to share accurate real-time information with members of the public during such incidents.

Braun V and Clarke V (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3(2):77-101.

Papacharissi Z (2015) Affective publics: Sentiment, technology and politics. Oxford University Press.

Papacharissi Z (2016) Affective publics and structures of storytelling: sentiment, events and mediality. Information, Communication & Society 19(3):307-324.