Lars Willnat, Ph.D.

Professor and Director, UK School of Journalism and Media

Current Projects

I am currently analyzing the findings of The American Journalist in the Digital Age, a representative survey of 1,080 U.S. journalists conducted in late 2013. This survey continues the series of major national studies of U.S. journalists begun in 1971 by sociologist John Johnstone and continued in 1982, 1992, and 2002 by David Weaver and his colleagues at Indiana University. Much as the U.S. Census does for the general population, these studies provide an important decennial measure of the pulse of U.S. journalism.

I’m also looking at the findings of two national online surveys that investigate the potential relationship between social media use and political participation among voters in the 2012 U.S. and Korean presidential election. We interviewed representative samples of 1,000 adult citizens in each nation in November (USA) and December 2012 (South Korea). Both nations held presidential elections in 2012, which provided us with the perfect opportunity to ask a set of 60 identical questions in each nation. The study addresses the following research questions: (1) Can social media expand individual-level political engagement? (2) Can social media be used as an effective medium for diffusing political information? (3) Do voters become more involved in the election campaign when they use social media to access political information?

I completed my work on Social Media, Culture, and Politics in Asia, an edited book that investigates social media use and political participation in nine Asian nations or territories: China, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Japan. By employing a comparative, cross-national approach, the book analyzes how the use of social media such as Twitter or Facebook interacts with culture and politics in each of these nations – and how this interaction might affect political participation of individual citizens.

David Weaver and I also completed our edited book The Global Journalist in the 21st Century, which not only updates the original Global Journalist book published in 1998 with new data, but also adds a dozen new countries with comparative research about journalists. As with the first edition of The Global Journalist, our major assumption is that journalists’ personal backgrounds, working conditions and ideas are related to what is reported and how it is covered in the various news media around the world — and that this coverage matters in terms of world public opinion and policies.

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