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Call for Papers

Engaging news audiences: Exploring the links between digital platform affordances, selective exposure and social endorsement

Deadline: 30 April 2019

Digital platforms and mobile technologies are diversifying the ways in which audiences are exposed to and engage with news, ranging from news avoidance to active news sharing (Newman et al., 2018; Park et al., 2018). Among different types of news engagement, the act of ‘sharing’ encourages the culture of social endorsement where audiences signal to others and are influenced by their social networks in encountering news. This creates a social news environment where audiences are inadvertently exposed to news that may not match their political beliefs or interests (Anspach, 2017). On social media, audiences are oftentimes incidentally exposed to different perspectives and views (Fletcher & Nielsen, 2017; Lu & Lee, 2018; Weeks et al., 2017). Yet, whether they will engage with the news they encounter incidentally is a different matter; news audiences may or may not choose to consume or engage with the news that they have discovered. Exposure to diverse information from counter-attitudinal sources does not automatically lead to the consumption of such information (Anspach, 2017).

In the context of news sharing, there exist two closely linked dimensions. First is the technological affordances offered by digital platforms (Feraj & Azad, 2012; Evans, Pearce, Vitak, & Treem, 2017). Technological affordances can influence news consumers’ levels of news exposure, consumption and engagement. As yet, relatively little is known about the extent to which and how different technological affordances lead to different types and levels of news engagement. This is further complicated by the fact that audience behavior is an outcome of a contextual and multi-faceted relationship between the technology and the user (Evans et al., 2017). The second dimension is the human factors that come into play in the uptake, reception, and sharing of news. Consistent with the theory of selective exposure, how news consumers consume and interact with news are also dependent on their political beliefs (Shin & Thorson, 2017; Stroud et al., 2017). The phenomenon of selective exposure can lead to a decrease in opportunities for news consumers to consume and engage with diverse news and information (Messing & Westwood, 2012; Stroud, 2008, 2010).

On digital platforms, there is a third, moderating factor—social endorsements—that bridges technological affordances and human factors. Social endorsements serve as a heuristic cue that signals news audiences as to which news deserves their attention (Anspach, 2017; Messing & Westwood, 2012). This is a key trend in the digital platform environment among news audiences who interact with others through news sharing.

To date, the link between affordances of digital platforms and news audiences’ selective exposure remains largely unknown as the interplay between technological affordances associated with news engagement and human factors remains understudied. To further develop this area, this special issue of Digital Journalism invites scholars to investigate the interplay between the structural and human factors that influence news consumers’ exposure to and engagement with news. Among different types of digital news engagement, this special issue focuses on news sharing behaviors that epitomize how news consumers interact with technological affordances offered by digital platforms. We welcome quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods approaches. 

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Different types and levels of news engagement;
    • News avoidance
    • Passive versus active sharers of news
    • Public versus private news sharing on social media and messaging apps
  • How different tones of news stories influence news sharing
  • Personalized news and its impact on news engagement
  • Technological affordances of digital platforms and their linkage to sharing of news
  • Proprietary and non-proprietary news platforms and sharing of news
  • Socio-demographic and cultural factors that influence news sharing
  • Social endorsements and news sharing
  • The interplay between selective exposure and social endorsements

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 current 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 engagingnewsaudiences@gmail.com and sora.park@canberra.edu.au 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. Article submissions should target 7,000 words in length. Guidelines for manuscripts can be found here.  

Timeline:

Abstract submission deadline: 30 April 2019
Notification on submitted abstracts: 30 May 2019
Article submission deadline: 30 November 2019

 

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Editorial information

Guest Editors:

  • Sora Park, University of Canberra
  • Yoonmo Sang, University of Canberra
  • Jaemin Jung, KAIST
  • Natalie Jomini Stroud, University of Texas at Austin