“F is for Fake, A is for Angry, B is for Boring: Sophisticated News in an Irrational Age.”

Presentasjon av C. W. Anderson, Professor of Media and Communication, University of Leeds. Note: exact date to be announced

About the presentation

Presentation by C.W. Anderson, professor of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds.

The presentation is part of the OsloMet Digital Journalism Focus Seminars, organised by the research group Digital Journalism .

Moderator: Oscar Westlund, professor, Department of Journalism and Media Studies, OsloMet - Oslo Metropolitan University


For those of us who have been studying elite, technologically sophisticated forms of journalism for the past several years, one question is increasingly rearing its ugly head: should we all just have been studying professional wrestling instead? In an age of populism, Trump, Brexit, Le Penn, and “fake news,” what is the value of algorithmic, data, automated, and other higher forms of journalistic work, and what do we as scholars and concerned citizens get out of studying these phenomena?

This talk draws on and extends a recently completed book project that tried to tell the history of quantitative journalism in the United States from 1900 to the present. The talk argues that journalism in the United States has become increasingly exact, objective, and scientific, but that the relationship between this journalism of certitude and public problems is also increasingly fraught.  Given that, what ought scholars do now?

The second half of the talk takes on this question of “what next” and argues that we need to refine, but not sever, the link between technology, journalism and politics. We should do this by studying the following topics, among others: (1) the emotional and aesthetic meanings of “data” for news consumers (2) the emotional and aesthetic meanings of “data” for news producers   (3) generic, “boring,” and pre-packaged forms of data visualization and news imagery, (4) the role of algorithms and platforms in forming publics and (5) cross-national cultures of quantitative journalism. The informational, emotional, and identity-forming aspects of the news should not be severed, I conclude, but entangled . All contribute to forming what I call the “dark public(s)” of the 21st century.


C.W. Anderson is a Professor of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds. Prior to that, he was an Associate Professor of Media Culture at the City University of New York (CUNY). He studies the manner in which journalism acts as a producer of “public knowledge,” both historically and in the 21st century, as well as the manner by which technological, economic, political, and cultural changes are shaping the news industry.

Anderson has just concluded a large-scale research project on the manner by which American journalists have used data in news reporting from the late 19th century until the present, paying particular attention to the invention of Computer Assisted Reporting in the 1960s and computational journalism in the 21st century. His new project examines how these and other forms of high-end factual reporting navigate a political world seemingly governed by emotion, passion, and cultural identity.

Anderson is the author, co-author, or co-editor of five books: Rebuilding the News: Metropolitan Journalism in the Digital Age (Temple University Press), Remaking the News (with Pablo Boczkowski, The MIT Press), The Sage Handbook of Digital Journalism (with Tamara Witschge, David Domingo, and Alfred Hermida, Sage) and Journalism: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Len Downie and Michael Schudson, Oxford University Press) and Apostles of Certainty: Data Journalism and the Politics of Doubt (Oxford University Press.)

He has also published articles in a number of top-ranked academic journals, including Political Communication , New Media and Society, Journalism, Journalism Studies, Qualitative Sociology, Social Media and Society, and the International Journal of Communication. He has also written for a number of other popular journals and magazines, including Nieman Lab, the Columbia Journalism Review , and The Atlantic.

Anderson received his PhD from the Columbia University School of Journalism, where he remains an advisory board member at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. He is an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Press/Politics , and as of October, directs the PhD program in Media and Communication here at Leeds.