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The Power of Platforms: Shaping Media and Society

Professor Rasmus Nielsen ( University of Oxford )

Title: The Power of Platforms: Shaping Media and Society

Abstract: More people today get news via Facebook and Google than from any news organization in history, and smaller platforms like Twitter serve news to more users than all but the biggest media companies. This presentation draws on original interviews and other qualitative evidence to analyze the "platform power" that a few technology companies have come to exercise in public life, the reservations publishers have about platforms, as well as the reasons why publishers often embrace them nonetheless. It draws out the implications of a fundamental feature of the contemporary world that we all need to understand: previously powerful and relatively independent institutions like the news media are increasingly in a position similar to that of ordinary individual users, simultaneously empowered by and dependent upon a small number of centrally placed and powerful platforms.

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Speaker bio

Bio: Rasmus Kleis Nielsen is Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Professor of Political Communication at the University of Oxford. His research is focused on the changing role of news and media in our societies. He has written extensively about journalism, digital media, the business of news, political communication and related topics in dozens of scholarly articles, edited volumes, and books, including Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns (winner of the American Political Science Association’s Doris Graber Award for the best book on political communication published in the last ten years) and The Power of Platforms (with Sarah Anne Ganter). In addition, he is co-author of the annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report. A frequent speaker at academic, industry, and policy-making conferences, he has provided expert advice to both governments and news media companies in several countries. His work has been covered by a wide variety of media all over the world, and he has written for El Pais, the Indian Express, the Washington Post, and many other publications. He tweets at @rasmus_kleis.

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