Northwestern media scholar speaks on digital media and U.S. politics
The rise of digital and social media combined with the polarization taking place in the United States has created a disrupted media landscape that analysts, journalists, and voters are struggling to understand. That according to Northwestern University Professor Pablo J. Boczkowski in discussing his new book Trump and the Media.
During his discussion, Boczkowski touched on several topics that included the changing perspective on journalism and the collapse of traditional news, emotional ties to current events and political behavior, how technology is influencing storytelling and political communication strategies, as well as future ways that news and social media could be used to improve the quality of democratic life.
Boczkowski is the editor of a new book, Trump and the Media, which focuses on the disruption of the media landscape and the disconnect between voters and the traditional media, as well as the emergence of fake news and Trump's own use of social media
“A lot of the rhetoric, discourse, and actions may seem new, but they do have an historical precedent that we have seen before,” said Boczkowski. “We need to understand what makes what we are seeing now unique to make sense of this century-long evolution of the relationship between the press and public.”
“The book tries to make sense of this evolution by looking at different aspects including the weakening of the press as an institution, the undermining of their financial and economic capabilities, and the polarization of societies over time – especially during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections,” he added.
“Professor Boczkowski’s book includes essays by leading media scholars who trace today’s disruptions back to the Cold War as they chart the evolution from traditional media to digital media,” said Everette E. Dennis. “His contributions to the scholarship on the changing dynamic of media and politics raises viable questions about how these changes will affect the way we teach political science and journalism and the way these paradigms may overlap in pedagogy.”
Among other topics, Boczkowski pointed to President Trump’s use of social, digital, and traditional media to gain more traction and coverage throughout his candidacy and presidency. And he also noted that President Trump’s attacks on the media have had bottom-line benefits for both him and the major media organizations in the United States.
“Although President Trump speaks venomously about the media, he also loves the media,” Boczkowski said. “In fact, he is estimated to have received billions of dollars’ worth of free advertising from major news organizations who were covering the election, and although many were criticizing him, they have benefited financially from people who are following the coverage.”
Boczkowski is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, co-director of the Center for the Study of Media and Society in Argentina, and will soon be senior research fellow at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society in Germany. His research examines the dynamics of digital culture from a comparative perspective, with a focus on politics. He earned his PhD and MA from Cornell University and was previously a faculty member at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining Northwestern.