• Academic,  Highlights,  Publications

    New Article: Indonesia’s English-Language Press

    Last year John Carpenter, a PhD student in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication, asked if I would be interested in working with him on a project about English-language journalists in Indonesia. John had just spent six weeks in Jakarta observing and interviewing journalists and editors at privately owned news organizations that publish in the English language. John’s interest in English-language journalism in countries where English is not the primary language meshed well with my interest in global imaginaries. The result of our collaboration is an exploration of how English-language journalists conceive of public service when their audience is local, regional and global. The resulting manuscript, “Service at the Intersection of…

  • Academic

    Book Review: The Naked Blogger of Cairo

    Below is the pre-publication text for a review published in the Journal of Communication Inquiry. The final, published review can be found here behind a paywall.  In February 2011, a month after the “Day of Revolt” in Egypt, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed union-busting legislation under the guise of a budgetary repair bill. Then a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, I joined thousands of other concerned citizens in occupying the state capitol to protest the bill. Contrary to claims by Walker and conservative talk radio, liberal sympathizers did not send professional activists to flood the capitol. What they did send was pizza. Local restaurants received orders from all 50…

  • Academic,  Highlights,  Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Music Videos, Global Imaginaries and Frictions

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been studying Kenyan music videos. My first article from this research project, “Global frictions and the production of locality in Kenya’s music video industry,” was just published online at Media, Culture & Society. I’m really excited about this piece, and I hope that it will be useful to other scholars of global media. The article’s main contribution is an analytical framework for studying global cultural production. Here are the main points: People feel a sense of belonging with those outside their direct proximity. This is illustrated nicely by Benedict Anderson’s book Imagined Communities and also by Charles Taylor’s book Modern Social Imaginaries. Within the context of globalization, Manfred Steger and others…

  • Publications

    New Article: Citizen Journalism Beyond the Hype

    Recently, I had the great opportunity to work with Joanna Krajewski (a Ph.D. candidate in SJMC at Iowa) on a project about the limits of citizen journalism, using a case study of CNN iReport coverage of cholera in Haiti. While citizen journalism offers the potential to elevate marginalized voices and challenge dominant discourses, it is important to critically examine the content of citizen journalism to better understand how well it lives up to this potential. Although others have published useful political economic critiques of CNN iReport, we focus less on the institutional structure of iReport and more on the iReports themselves. Such an approach runs the risk of “punching down” (something we took great…

  • Publications

    New Technologies and the “Friend or Foe” Question

    REPOST: This article was originally published in the Iowa City Press-Citizen (without links/media). Read the original article.  In 1997, when fewer than a quarter of Americans were online, telecom giant MCI released a TV commercial that captured the cyber-optimism of the time. Over a montage of diverse faces, a chorus of voices declared: “There is no race. There are no genders. There is no age. There are no infirmities. There are only minds. Utopia? No, the Internet.” No ad executive would dare pitch such a concept today, unless she hoped to get laughed out of the room. If you still believe the Internet is a utopia, I recommend you read the comments…

  • Publications

    How Journalists and the Public Get It Wrong About African Poverty

    REPOST: This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Ordinary people’s stories can change the world’s views about Africa We cannot see salary data in the faces of others, but most of us have similar mental images that structure how we think about poverty in Africa. Search Google Images for ‘African poverty’ to see how yours match up. Dilapidated housing. Tattered shirts. Blank stares. Bellies protruding from parasitic infections. Skin clinging to bones from starvation. Tears. The visit to South Africa by French economist and author of Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty, should lead us to reflect on how we understand poverty. To speak…

  • Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Touring Slums and Telling Stories (About Ourselves)

    Five years ago, when wrapping up fieldwork in Kibera, I blogged about the controversy surrounding slum tourism. While many Kibera residents resent the fact that so many foreigners tour their community, a few told me they believed there would be less misunderstanding if more outsiders visited Kibera. In a previous article, I discussed the complex feelings residents have about their home community and, in doing so, tried to challenge the dominant discourse about slums. In a new article, titled “Ironic Encounters: Posthumanitarian Storytelling in Slum Tourist Media,” David Tuwei and I look at the stories slum tourists are telling about their encounters with global poverty. The article examines three texts produced by tourists of Kibera: the BBC special Famous, Rich…

  • Academic,  Publications

    New Article: Innovation Clusters & Newsroom Change

    The second article from my collaborative newsroom study with Jane Singer, Melissa Tully, and Shawn Harmsen has just been published by Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. Whereas the first piece looked at job insecurity and newswork, this article uses diffusion of innovations theory to examine the various changes happening in American newsrooms. In Diffusion of Innovations, Roger’s notes that innovations rarely appear one at a time; instead, they typically overlap with each other or are introduced as packages. While most diffusion studies isolate and track a single innovation, we used Roger’s concept of “innovation clusters” to parse out three interdependent yet distinct changes taking place at the newsroom that was the focus of our case study. This cluster of innovations includes changes in technology use, changes…

  • Kenya

    Economic Ingenuity among Nairobi’s Poor

    A recent story in the The Standard details the various ways Nairobi’s low-income earners maximize their earning potential and spending power. The article, “How Thriving ‘Reject Economy’ is Allowing the Poor to Live High Life of the Rich,” by Dominic Omondi looks beyond the “Dollar a Day” trope to reveal the economic ingenuity of Nairobi’s underclass. A few of the examples: Getting discounted prices for cracked eggs, bruised vegetables, misshapen bread, and defective clothing Finding deals from street vendors and informal markets Recovering and washing discarded, but still trendy, hair weaves Selling old newspapers by the page to butchers and shopkeepers Buying scrap electronics for pennies, fixing them, and selling them for a sizable profit During my fieldwork, I became fascinated by the economics of Kibera. Inside Kibera, there…

  • Academic,  Publications

    New Article: Precarious Newswork

    In the past few years, Jane Singer, Shawn Harmsen, Melissa Tully and I have been looking into the changing newsroom. If you haven’t noticed, the news industry in the United States has been experiencing tremendous change. The four of us have been exploring how these changes affect those at the front lines of producing news. Our first manuscript from this project was published online at Journalism Practice. The article “Newswork within a culture of job insecurity: Producing news amidst organizational and industry uncertainty” examines how uncertainty in the industry and at a specific company with a history of layoffs affects the news practices of those who remain behind. In it, we argue that a culture of job insecurity has a…