If you consult recent headlines, the news media is in crisis, and the problems are manifold: disruptive changes to media technology, the spread of misleading news, and anonymous harassment of public figures are causing serious concerns about the quality and trajectory of our democracy and the place of the news media in it. At the same time, these phenomena are not new; disruptions, falsehoods, and harassment have been topics of public concern at various moments throughout the history of media and democracy. How does the current moment, dominated by concerns over the rise of social media, the prevalence of online harassment, the commercial viability of the print press, and the loss of local journalism, compare to previous moments of crisis? Which developments have echoes in the past, and which concerns are truly novel or unprecedented?
To encourage historically informed research on the impact of recent technological changes on both media and democracy, the Media & Democracy program at the Social Science Research Council is proud to announce an open call for papers for a research workshop to be held in New York City on December 13–14, 2018.