Media Scholar Earns Tow Fellowship

Anthony Nadler, an assistant professor of media and communications studies, has been named a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

The Tow Center explores the ways in which technology is changing journalism, its practice and its consumption, particularly as consumers of news seek ways to judge the reliability, standards and credibility of information.

The fellowship is connected to a research project that seeks to understand how communities in metro Philadelphia—with a range of relations to power and place—think about trust in media.

Nadler is collaborating on the project with Marc Lamont Hill, a renowned scholar, journalist and social commentator now serving the Temple University Lew Klein College of Media and Communication as the first Steve Charles Chair in Media, Cities and Solutions; Andrea Wenzel, an assistant professor of journalism at Temple; and Melissa Valle, an assistant professor in the Department of African American and African Studies and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Rutgers University—Newark. 

“In a time when news media are facing a crisis of polarization and splintering trust, the Tow Center Fellowship is allowing us to delve deeper into understanding how different communities develop trusting or mistrusting relationships with different news outlets,” Nadler says.

The study will draw from a series of focus groups, “story diaries” and interviews with residents of two areas with varied histories: a majority African American neighborhood associated with the political left, and a mostly white politically-divided suburb.

Nadler says it will explore how residents decide to assign trust to various media outlets or personalities, and how they adapt their news and information habits and develop alternate verification strategies in situations where trust is in short supply.

The research will include interviews with local media and community stakeholders and when complete, the scholars’ findings will be shared and discussed with community stakeholders and media in a series of community workshops.

Nadler is the author of Making the News Popular: Mobilizing U.S. News Audiences (University of Illinois Press, 2016). The book was selected as a finalist for the Frank Luther Mott Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism and Mass Communication Research Award, which recognizes the best research-based book about journalism or mass communication published each year.

His research focuses on conservative news, media and populism, and debates surrounding propaganda and civic culture in a digital media landscape. —By Ed Moorhouse