Image Credit: “Indignants Demonstration” by Phillipe Leroyer, licensed under CC BY 2.0


In recent decades, the news industry has undergone fundamental changes, reshaping where and how citizens get information about candidates for public office in our democracy. Historically, the choices voters made about candidates were informed primarily by the news media, shaping the conventional and scholarly wisdom about the kinds of candidates and appeals likely to succeed. How have the rise of social and digital media and the decline—or evolution— of traditional news media reshaped coverage of US elections? Do these changes force us to rethink traditional models of media and politics?

To encourage new research on the evolving nature of US election coverage, the Media & Democracy program at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) held an interdisciplinary research development workshop in Brooklyn, NY, on April 23–24, 2020. This workshop was co-chaired by Professor Julia Azari (Marquette University) and Professor Michael Wagner (University of Wisconsin–Madison).

The workshop was complemented by an expert panel discussion presented in partnership with the Center for Brooklyn History featuring Julia Azari (Marquette University), Michael Wagner (University of Wisconsin), and Claire Wardle (First Draft). The panel was moderated by Johanna Dunaway (Texas A&M).

Workshop Chairs

Julia Azari 
Associate Professor and Assistant Chair in the Department of Political Science 
Director of Graduate Studies for the Political Science and International Affairs M.A. Programs 
Marquette University 

Michael Wagner
Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Wisconsin-Madison


The following people were accepted into the workshop

Porismita Borah
Associate Professor of Communication
Washington State University
Paper: “The use of Twitter as a source in presidential election coverage: A mixed-method examination using content analysis and in-depth interviews with journalists.”

Joshua Darr
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Louisiana State University
Paper: “A Path Through the Desert: Re-Localizing the News in a Nationalized Era”

Emily Farris
Associate Professor of Political Science
Texas Christian University
Paper: “Local news and the facilitation of accurate political knowledge”

Jessica Feezell
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of New Mexico
Paper: “Scrolling Headlines v. Clicking: The differential impact of news consumption habits on political behavior and public opinion”

Michelle P. Ferrier
Dean, School of Journalism & Graphic Communication
Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University
Paper: “Open Season: U.S. Presidential Primary Brings Online Threats Against Journalists to Physical Reality”

Yanna Krupnikov
Associate Professor of Political Communication
Stony Brooke University
Paper: “What is Fair Election Coverage?”

Josh McCrain
PhD Candidate, Political Science
Emory University
Paper: “The Political Consequences of Media Consolidation”

Shannon McGregor
Assistant Professor at Hussman School of Journalism and Media
Senior Researcher with the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Paper: “Social Public Opinion in U.S. Election News: Journalists’ Routines, the News Product, and Audience Reception”

Baxter Oliphant
Senior Researcher, Journalism
Pew Research Center
Paper: “Election News Pathways 2020”

Travis Nelson Ridout
Professor of Government and Public Policy
Co-Director of the Wesleyan Media Project
Washington State University
Paper: “The Impact of New Transparency in Digital Advertising on Media Coverage”

Yotam Shmargad
Assistant Professor of Government & Public Policy
University of Arizona
Paper: “The Influencer Ecosystem in the 2018 U.S. Primaries”

Benjamin Toff
Assistant Professor of Journalism & Mass Communication
University of Minnesota
Paper: “What the Dissolution of The New York Times/CBS News Poll Means for Media Polling and Political Reporting.”

Nikki Usher
Professor of Media & Journalism
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Paper: “A Geospatial Analysis of US News Deserts: The (Surprising) Distribution of Newspaper Employment and the Consequences for Democracy”