The ways we consume and create media and content continue to evolve at a rapid pace. The Demystifying Media seminar series explores the impact of these changes across the communications landscape and finds new ways to navigate forward.

Each term, we will bring several experts—media practitioners, academics, and researchers—working on the cutting edge of these global changes to campus to discuss the impact of the 21st-century media revolution with students, faculty, and staff.

If you have a topic you’d like us to explore or a speaker to recommend for this series, please contact Damian Radcliffe, Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism, University of Oregon, at

Winter 2017 Speakers

Nikki Usher

Demystifying: Hackers, Data and Code in the Age of Trump

Thursday, February 23, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Diamond Lake Room, EMU

What does Trump’s election mean for data journalism? Nikki Usher will discuss her new book, Interactive Journalism: Hackers, Data, and Code, and look ahead to what’s next for interactive journalism across the world.
The news industry has hailed interactive journalists as its saviors and claimed them as resident authorities of quantification and digital skills the newsroom. But data isn’t as objective as we like to think. Given its significant influence on public opinion, how we present data and statistics is critical, as it can be particularly damaging when done poorly.

Thinking about the promises and perils of interactive journalism has never been more important. This talk aspires to be a starting point for this conversation at the UO SOJC.

Sex, Surveillance, and Shopping: How the Arabian Gulf Uses Social Media

Friday, March 3, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Allen Hall 141

Sarah Vieweg is a social scientist whose research is at the intersection of human-computer interaction, computer-mediated communication, and computer-supported cooperative work. She researches how citizens of Arab Gulf countries perceive, use, and re-interpret social media, with an eye toward defining design principles that consider non-Western cultural values. She also looks at how advertisers throughout the world turn to social media for advertising and marketing, and how diverse marketplace activities translate to digital environments.

Vieweg holds a B.A. in economics and French from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, an M.A in linguistics from the University of Colorado Boulder, and a Ph.D. in technology, media, and society from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Prior to her position at Facebook, she was a scientist at the Qatar Computing Research Institute and a project manager at Oblong Industries.

Demystifying: The future of local newspapers

Friday, March 10, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Allen Hall 141

Christopher Ali is an assistant professor at the University of Virginia. His research interests focus on communication policy and regulation, critical political economy, critical geography, comparative media systems, localism, and local news.

Ali has published in numerous journals, including Communication Theory, Media Culture & Society, and International Journal of Communication. His forthcoming book, Media Localism: The Policies of Place (University of Illinois Press, 2017), addresses the difficulties of defining and regulating local media in the 21st century in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada and the implications these difficulties have for the long-term viability of local news.

Ali has worked for the Federal Communications Commission, submitted research for the Swiss Office of Communication, and consulted with the South Korean Committee on the Impact of Media Concentration. He holds a Ph.D. from Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania; an M.A. in media Studies from Concordia University, Canada; and a B.A. in film and media studies and sociology from the University of Alberta.

Fall 2016 Speakers

Katherine Their

Demystifying: How to recreate your newsroom for the digital age

Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 12-1 p.m. Allen Hall 307. Chaired by SOJC Instructor Kathryn Thier.

How do publications embrace digital in both their working practices and their business models?  We hear from global and local editors about the impact of digital disruption on their newsroom culture and business models.

Matthew Powers

Demystifying: How NGOs blur the line between PR, Journalism and Advocacy

Matthew Powers, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, University of Washington.

Friday, November 11, 2016, 12-1 p.m. Allen Hall 221.

Non-governmental organizations have long sought publicity to boost their organizational profiles and achieve advocacy aims. In recent years, NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam have hired reporters and photojournalists to accompany research missions; utilizing corporate public relations techniques to boost brand awareness, and by experimenting with digital tools to pursue advocacy goals. This talk overviews these developments, explains their causes, and discusses their implications for journalism, advocacy and the public sphere; highlighting a larger blurring of the lines dividing journalism, public relations and advocacy in the contemporary media landscape.

Powers’s research has been published in Journal of Communication, International Journal of Press/Politics, and Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, among others. He holds a PhD in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University.

Regina Lawrence

Demystifying: The 2016 Presidential Election

Monday, November 14, 2016, 2-3 p.m. Erb Memorial Union Diamond Lake Room. Faculty discussion led by Regina Lawrence, Executive Director of the Agora Journalism Center and the George S. Turnbull Portland Center.

Whatever the outcome, the 2016 Presidential election will have major repercussions for the future of the media and communications. This session will provide the SOJC with a unique opportunity to reflect on the impact of the 2016 race and its implications for our teaching and research.

Spring 2016 Speakers

Dennis Dimick

Dennis Dimick, former Executive Editor of Environment, National Geographic, and a 2016 Journalist in Residence at the SOJC

Thursday, April 21, 2016, 2-3:30 p.m. in Lawrence Hall room 115

As part of National Geographic’s November 2015 issue on climate change, environment editor and picture editor Dennis Dimick originated this story and edited the photography for “Pulse of the Planet,” which shows how aerial, astronaut, and satellite images reveal an amazing picture of the world we live in, how we are changing it, and what we can learn from these images.

Dennis will take you on a dramatic high-level visual tour of the earth using pictures, animations, and movies he assembled from a variety of sources, he will show a few of his own aerial images, and and he will explain how you can locate and use these same image collections yourself.

Tracie Powell

Tracie Powell, John S. Knight Journalism Fellow, Stanford University and a 2016 Journalist in Residence at the SOJC

Friday, May 6, 2016, 1-2 p.m. in 307 Allen Hall

Tracie Powell is the founder and editor of All Digitocracy, which focuses on technology, media and policy. She is currently a Knight Fellow at Stanford exploring how newsrooms can expand their audiences and connect with increasingly diverse users, such as millennials and people of color.

Tracie writes regularly for the Columbia Journalism Review and has also been published by Poynter, The Washington Post, Newsweek and People magazines.

She holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and clerked for the U.S. Department of Justice, whilst as a young journalist she worked for The Augusta Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman and In 2006 she earned a journalism and public policy fellowship at The Ohio State University, followed by a fellowship on Capitol Hill, on the House Judiciary Committee.

Yvonne Leow

Yvonne Leow, Senior Snapchat Editor at Vox

Friday, May 20, 2016, 12-1 p.m. in 140 Allen Hall

Yvonne Leow is the Senior Snapchat Editor at Vox. Yvonne and her team has published dozens of stories, ranging from climate change, ISIS to Star Wars, on Snapchat’s Discover channel. Previously, she was a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University where she researched how to deliver news through mobile messaging platforms. Yvonne’s previous roles include being director of video at Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome, and a senior associate at North Base Media, a venture capital firm that invests in digital media startups in emerging markets. She was also the west regional video producer the Associated Press and a video journalist at the Seattle Times.

Vox joined Snapchat Discover on November 23, 2015. Six months in, how is Vox – the explainer-driven publisher – using Snapchat? What lessons have they learned so far? With 6 billion video views a day, Snapchat’s recent growth and expansion has been impressive, especially amongst millennials. So, how does Snapchat support Vox’s audience, content and revenue strategies? And how is using Discover different from harnessing other social platforms?

Claire Wardle

Claire Wardle, Director of Research, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University

Friday, May 27, 2016, 12-1 p.m. in 140 Allen Hall

The past five years have seen the most significant shift in news publishing since the invention of the printing press. Large social media platforms are becoming the principal mechanisms for delivering news to global audiences. What does this new reality mean for the platforms, news organizations and audiences in terms of business models, algorithmic transparency, privacy and ethical frameworks?

Claire Wardle leads the Tow Center’s research exploring the intersection of journalism’s democratic function and the new tools of the digital age. Alongside this, she is the co-founder of Eyewitness Media Hub and a member of the World Economic Forum‘s Global Agenda Council on Social Media.

Claire was previously director of News Services for Storyful, senior social media officer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and a lecturer at Cardiff University, as well as a consultant and trainer on social media. In 2009, Claire designed the social media training programme for BBC news and helped roll it out across the organisation. She subsequently trained over 3,000 people around the world from different media, NGO, Government and academic bodies.

Winter 2016 Speakers

Nic Newman

Nic Newman, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
Nic was a founding member of the BBC News Website, leading international coverage as World Editor (1997-2001) and later Head of Product for BBC News.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Nic Newman is a former senior BBC News executive and the lead author of the annual Digital News Report published by the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford. Nic also produces a must read predictions report every year.

His 2016 report, which was published earlier this month, highlights the rise of robo-journalists, an ongoing battle between publishers and adblockers, bendy smartphones and the role of social media in the workplace; alongside findings from a survey of 130 senior news executives across 25 countries.

These industry leaders are “worrying about digital revenues in a world increasingly affected by ad-blocking and the rise of distributed content,” Newman says, but “they are also keeping one eye on the future with plans for online video, new immersive storytelling and Virtual Reality.”

Industry priorities for 2016

  1. Investment in video: 79% of digital leaders said they would be investing more in online video – including 360-degree footage, livestreaming vertical video and virtual reality during 2016.
  1. Engagement: 54% of publishers say that deepening online engagement of audiences is a top priority for the year ahead, with 41% favouring greater reach.
  1. Data: More than three-quarters of respondents said it is very important for them to improve their use of data in the newsroom in 2016.

The Future

  1. Netflix: will continue to grow in importance. This year it will invest over $6 billion dollars (£4.1 billion) in content creation and acquisition rights.
  1. Advertising: is driving a huge demand for more online video. Online video will grow 14x in the next five years and account for 70% of mobile traffic, with more native distribution opportunities within platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, continuing to emerge.
  1. Live streaming apps become the new 24hr-news: The report predicts, “all breaking news events will be covered with LIVE video – from multiple angles and in high definition.”

The need for agility and cultural change is also highlighted.

Walls between product, commercial and editorial will continue to be reviewed and/or broken down, as cross-functional teams emerge. Respondents told the Reuters Institute:

The key challenge is… “Breaking down the walls between departments. On one side, the walls between technology, business and editorial. On the other side, the newsroom-internal ones: The walls between video, data, text, infographics, multimedia”
Anita Zielina, Editor-in-Chief New Products, NZZ

New tools such as Slack and HipChat are helping to bring down these walls.

“This tool [Slack] has completely changed how my teams interact with each other, and has had a similar effect in the newsroom – completely through organic adoption rather than any specific concerted effort”

Other important predictions featured in the report include the loss of faith in online advertising due to ad-fraud; the emergence of automated journalism with job losses in the newsroom a likely consequence; the continued rise of messaging apps and moves to speed up the mobile web.

Read more in the full report.

Jennifer Brandel, Founder & CEO ‪at Hearken
Jennifer recently founded a new audience-driven framework and platform enabling journalists to partner with the public throughout the reporting process.

Friday, February 12, 2016, 3:00-4:30 p.m. in 140 Allen Hall with reception following in the Hearth

Supported by the Agora Journalism Center, the gathering place for innovation in communication and civic engagement.

Zach Hyder

Zach Hyder, Partner at Quinn Thomas Public Affairs
How is social media changing public discourse in the Pacific Northwest and is this technology impeding critical thought or great new  pathways for greater civic engagement, corporate and political accountability, and journalistic integrity?

This session will use Quinn Thomas’ recently published research to address complex questions about the role that social media plays in shaping opinions about current events, electoral politics and policy; as well as the role of social media in tackling issues of of diversity and plurality of thought. Download the full report.

Friday, March 4, 2016, 3-4 p.m. in 211 Allen Hall with reception following in the Hearth

Dan Hon

Dan Hon, Principal at Very Little Gravitas

Friday, March 11, 2016, 3-4 p.m. in 211 Allen Hall with reception following in the Hearth

Dan Hon is a former Editorial Director at Code for America, a non-profit startup working to build government that works for the people, by the people in the 21st century and is currently working with the State of California and the Administration for Children, Youth and Families at the federal Health and Human Services agency to build user-centered digital services.

This session will explore how important editorial and content is to achieving Code for America’s mission, as well as digital transformation, strategy and product direction based on his award-winning experience as a creative director at Wieden+Kennedy for brands like Sony, Facebook and Nike, and his work in games and new media startups in London.