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COMET - Journalismin, viestinnän ja median tutkimuskeskus

COMET lecture series

A number of distinguished international scholars in media and communication studies are annually invited to give talks in the COMET lecture series. The lectures are open for everyone – welcome!

Senior researcher Asko Lehmuskallio
asko.lehmuskallio at
+358 50 318 7013

Lectures in 2017

Victor Pickard, October 23 at 13–15, main building, lecture hall A2a
Ashwin J. Mathew, October 16 at 13–15, Pinni B, lecture hall 3116
Niki Cheong, October 11 at 12–14, Pinni B, lecture hall 4113
David M. Berry, May 11
Barbie Zelizer, April 21
Helen Kennedy, March 7
Kaori Hayashi, February 14

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October 23 at 13–15, lecture hall A2a (main building)
Professor Victor Pickard, Annenberg School of Communication: Journalism Under Trump: A Political Economic Critique

Victor Pickard is a Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the history and political economy of media institutions, media activism, and the politics and normative foundations of media policy.

He is the author of America’s Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform (Cambridge University Press 2014) and editor of Media Activism in the Digital Age (Routledge 2017, co-edited with Guobin Yang). Other publications include Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It (co-edited with Robert McChesney).

Abstract: The many challenges facing American journalism have taken on greater urgency during the Trump Era. To understand what ails journalism and what reforms are necessary to address these problems, we must first scrutinize the discourses and policies that mask core pathologies in the American media system. Toward this aim, my talk will bring into focus the ongoing structural collapse of the commercial media model in the United States and will conclude by exploring potential alternatives. 

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October 16, 2017 at 13–15, lecture hall Pinni B3116
Dr. Ashwin J. Mathew (UC Berkeley/Packet Clearing House): Geographies of Trust and Practice in Internet Infrastructure

Dr. Ashwin J. Mathew is a visiting scholar and lecturer at the UC Berkeley School of Information, a fellow at the Slow Science Institute, and a researcher at Packet Clearing House. His research is in the area of Internet governance, which he studies by focusing on the relationships, practices, and institutions of the technical personnel who operate Internet infrastructure. He holds Ph.D. and Masters degrees from the UC Berkeley School of Information. His Ph.D. Where in the World is the Internet? Locating Political Power in Internet Infrastructure was awarded the 2016 iConference Doctoral Dissertation Award. Prior to his doctoral work, Dr. Mathew spent a decade working as a software engineer and technical architect in companies such as Adobe Systems and Sun Microsystems.

Since its origins, the Internet has been imagined as a space which is "everywhere and nowhere" (Barlow 1996): a virtual "space of flows" separated from the physical "space of places" (Castells 1996). These are politically charged imaginaries, as the virtual spaces of the Internet are often thought to intrinsically encode a democratic participatory politics, surpassing the the seemingly more limited democratic possibilities of the territorial space of the nation state. However, as the Internet has evolved, the problems of increased participation have become readily apparent, with attention today turning to questions of legitimacy and trustworthiness, whether in terms of "fake news", or privacy and security in online settings.

In this talk, I connect the seemingly disparate problems of trust and space in the Internet through an analysis of the underlying mechanisms involved in the production of virtual space. I locate these mechanisms in the sociotechnical organization of Internet infrastructure: the practices, institutions, and cultures of the technical personnel responsible for the reliable, stable operation of the thousands of interconnected computer networks which comprise the Internet. I draw from two research projects for my analysis, in which I studied network operators and information security personnel, in sites spanning North America and South Asia.

As I found, the infrastructure of the Internet is stabilized and ordered through practices which rely upon social relationships of trust, across organizational and territorial boundaries. This reliance on trust relationships makes the Internet quite unusual in comparison to other global infrastructures (such as shipping, airlines, or telephone systems) which rely primarily upon state and market arrangements for governance. Indeed, I argue that it is critical to understand the geographies of trust and practice which govern Internet infrastructure if we are to develop a trustworthy and secure future Internet.

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October 11, 2017 at 12–14, Pinni B, lecture hall 4113
Niki Cheong, University of Nottingham, UK: Weeding the grass: Social media astroturfing in Malaysia

Niki Cheong is a PhD researcher in Critical Theory and Cultural Studies at The University of Nottingham, UK. He is originally from Malaysia where he spent 12 years as a journalist, and recently published a collection of his decade-long column in the country’s largest English daily The Star. Cheong’s research interest lie at the intersection of media, politics and digital culture.

Abstract: This lecture will discuss the political communication practice engaged by State and political actors known as astroturfing – understood to be organised movements on social media disguised as grassroots sentiment. While studies in this area has been ongoing for many years covering various parts of the world, the current global political climate surrounding the EU referendum and the election of President Donald Trump offers a different perspective to discuss this practice within the context of post-truth politics, alternative facts and fake news.

There exist numerous literature with regards to the practice of astroturfing conducted by political parties and Governments– from authoritarian regimes to pseudo-democratic countries to liberal democracies. Across the globe, astroturfing is used for various reasons: suppressing dissent, propaganda purposes, reverse censorship and manipulation and spin.

This lecture will look at the political astroturfing practices in Malaysia as a case study to illustrate the murky line between information and disinformation being disseminated from politicians, political parties and Governments. In Malaysia, this practice is generally known as “cybertrooping”.

At a time when social media is so pervasive, and considering its significant role in political communication, the pressure is on journalists and the public themselves to discern what is true and what is not. This paper will discuss the empirical data from the Malaysian context as evidence of yet another form of “post-truth” manipulation, one that has been practiced long before Brexit and Trump.

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May 11, 2017 at 14–16, PINNI A, Paavo Koli -sali
Professor David M. Berry: Towards a critique of machine learning: critical digital humanities and Artificial Intelligence

David M. Berry is Professor of Digital Humanities at the Sussex Humanities Lab, University of Sussex, UK. He works on critical reason, critical philosophies of computation and digital humanities, and critical theory. His latest book is Digital Humanities: Knowledge and Critique in a Digital Age (2017, with Anders Fagerjord).

Abstract: This paper investigates the claims of computational models and practices drawn from the field of artificial intelligence and more particularly machine learning. I do this to explore the extent to which machine learning raises important questions for our notions of being human, but also, relatedly the concept of civil society and democracy as distilled through notions of hermeneutic practice. That is, that in the 21st century we are seeing the creation of specific formations which threaten historical notions of humanities research and thinking. They represent new modes of knowing and thinking driven by these new forms of computation such as machine learning and Big Data, and which will have implications for the capacity to develop and use social and human faculties. Through the lens of critical theory I explore the way in which these new techniques raise questions for thinking about the human, critical reason and the humanities.

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April 21, 2017 at 14–16, main building, lecture hall A4
Professor Barbie Zelizer: US Journalism's Cold War Mindset

Barbie Zelizer is the Raymond Williams Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Scholars Program in Culture and Communication. A former journalist, her work centers on the intersection of culture, journalism, collective memory and images, with a special focus on crisis. She is the author 14 books, many with international awards. Her latest book, What Journalism Could Be, was published by Polity in 2016.

Abstract: The talk will address the ways in which US journalism remains tied to a deep mindset set in place during the Cold War. It delineates the basic dimensions of this mindset and argues that it continues to shape current journalism both explicitly and implicitly.

Barbie Zelizer

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March 7, 2017 at 15–17, PINNI A Paavo Koli -sali
Professor Helen Kennedy, University of Sheffield:
Data visualisation: possibility or problem?

Helen Kennedy is Professor of Digital Society at the University of Sheffield. Her research has traversed digital media landscapes, covering topics from web homepages to data visualisation, from race, class, gender inequality to learning disability and web accessibility, and from web design to social media data mining. She has recently been researching what happens when social media data mining becomes widespread – this research was funded by an AHRC Fellowship and published as a monograph entitled Post, Mine, Repeat: social media data mining becomes ordinary (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). Other recent research includes Seeing Data (, which explored how non-experts relate to data visualisations (funded by an AHRC Digital Transformation large grant). She is interested in critical approaches to big data and data visualisations, how to make data more accessible to ordinary citizens, whether data matter to people, and how people live with data.

Abstract: In our increasingly data-driven societies, data are accorded growing importance, assumed to have the power to explain our social world and relied upon in decision-making that affects all our lives. Increasingly, data matter. An important way that many people get access to data is through visualisations which, like the data on which they are based, are also widely circulated – ‘data are mobilised graphically’, say Gitelman and Jackson (2013:12). Academic research, world news, sports stats and our own digital footsteps are increasingly communicated in visualised-datafied forms.

This paper draws on a range of research projects which investigate data visualisation from a critical humanities and social science perspective, to reflect simultaneously on the possibilities that data visualisation opens up and the problems that it ushers forth. It considers two dominant ideas about datavis: the first is the belief in the power of visualisations to promote greater understanding of data and the second is the argument that visualisations do persuasive, ideological work, privileging certain viewpoints and serving as mechanisms of power and control. To these two perspectives I add two further issues emerging from my research: the politics of the pragmatic challenges involved producing a good data visualisation, and the emotional dimensions of engaging with data through visualisations. The paper concludes by bringing these divergent perspectives together in a framework for thinking  about (and thinking with) data visualisation.

Helen Kennedy

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February 14, 2017
Kaori Hayashi: From dining tables to personal tablets: Japanese mass newspapers and their fate in the age of digital transformation

Kaori Hayashi is Professor of Media and Journalism Studies at the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, the University of Tokyo. Her most recent English publications include Internet Revolution Revisited: A Comparative Study of Online News. In: Media Culture & Society 35 (7), 880-897. Co-authored with Curran, James, et. al. Multi-Layer Research Design for Analyses of Journalism and Media Systems in the Global Age: Test Case Japan forthcoming in: Media Culture & Society. Co-authored with Gerd G. Kopper. For her publication list, please see:

Abstract: Japanese daily mass newspapers seem to be one of the very few examples in the world that have been able to sustain the print circulations as well as the traditional structure of the print media industry developed in the 20th century. They have been stubbornly resisting the trends of digital transformation that has overtaken the world of mass media on a global scale. Against this background, this study investigates the social and cultural role of Japanese newspapers in modern Japanese society, and their effort resisting and surviving in the digital age with a particular focus on their unique distribution networks. This investigation sheds light on the significance of print newspapers not only as a medium of news, information or entertainment, but also as an important social and cultural nexus that connects numerous anonymous readers in an expanding space of a modern nation through their delivery networks. Moreover, the case of Japanese journalism would provide valuable empirical insights to those who are interested in the fate of traditional media and its possible future worldwide.

Kaori Hayashi

Postiosoite: Journalismin, viestinnän ja median tutkimuskeskus,
33014 Tampereen yliopisto
Käyntiosoite: Kalevantie 4, E-siipi, 3. kerros
Muutettu: 22.9.2017 12.14 Muokkaa

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