Call for Papers: Symposium on Social Media, Algorithms, and Journalism Innovations

Submissions should examine aspects of social media and algorithms in connection to information production and flow.

Two sets of technological advances are shaping not only how information in a society is gathered, disseminated, received, and utilized, but also how we are related to one another in public and as publics. These are the advent of social media and the proliferation of algorithms. They are reshaping the profession of journalism, as well as the news media institutions that are built upon its promises and practices; they are also posting multifaceted challenges to our understandings and practices of public formation.

How is journalism changing? What technology-driven innovations are emerging in news media and/or journalism? How are platforms affecting the circulation and composition of public information? How are these changes reshaping news and more broadly journalism? How are they eroding objectivity and factuality as not only the norms in journalism but also the criteria employed to constitute the shared information basis in public formation? How are they contributing to the rise of the discourses of “post-truth” and the emergence of varieties of publics? How do we understand the challenges and possibilities of the familiar models of publics in democratic theories, namely publics who are expected to be informed, participatory, deliberative, and/or empowered?

This conference invites submissions that examine some aspects of social media and algorithms in connection to the changing patterns of information production and flow. We encourage scholars to interrogate the assumptions of professionally produced and curated as well as empirically verified or verifiable information being a basis for democratic public formation. This includes interrogations of the complex relationships among decentralization and pluralization of information production and circulation, the emergence of varieties of publics, including the growth of counterpublics, and the rise of various anti-democratic impulses.

Possible paper topics may include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

  • Conceptions and making of news for a social networking site
  • Algorithmically curated news presentations and public disaggregation
  • Critical assessments of automated journalism practices
  • Social media uses in news production
  • Social media as new and/or alternative news media
  • Application of data science in news curation
  • Visualizing data as a journalistic innovation
  • Contestations over objectivity, factuality, and the cultural authority of journalism
  • Algorithmic curation and the creation of echo chambers
  • Algorithmically curated information environments and the rises of nativism, xenophobic nationalism, authoritarianism
  • AI-assisted or AI-enabled authoritarian demagoguery

The call for submissions of paper abstracts of 800-1000 words is now open. Submissions should be emailed to by March 31, 2019. Authors will be notified of results by April 10, 2019.

The 5th Symposium on Communication and the Public: Social Media, Algorithms, and Journalism Innovations will be held at the College of Media and International Culture in Hangzhou on June 21 and 22. Organizers will cover accommodation and meals in Hangzhou.

All papers should be written and presented in English. Selected papers will be published as a special issue in Communication and the Public.

Please direct questions to any of the following organizers:

The symposium is organized by the College of Media and International Culture at Zhejiang University, in collaboration with the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.