Date: Friday, March 25
Place: RTV 245 (Note room Change)
Speaker: James G. Webster
Digital media offer countless options that compete for a limited supply of public attention. Identifying the forces that shape media use in this environment can inform our understanding of the new “attention economy.” In this talk I consider different ways to explain media use and offer an integrated model of public attention based on the notion of structuration. I report the results of a recent study that applied network analysis metrics to Nielsen data on television and internet use. These shed light on the nature of audience fragmentation and whether such “long tail” distributions can be taken as evidence of social polarization. I conclude with a discussion of niches, enclaves, and the persistence of popularity.
James G. Webster (PhD 1980, Indiana) is a Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. He studies audience behavior and patterns of media consumption across digital platforms. Secondary areas of interest are audience measurement, media industries, and the social impact of new media. He is the author of Ratings Analysis: The Theory and Practice of Audience Research and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media and the Journal of Communication. He has been a consultant to Nielsen, Arbitron, Initiative Media, and the Rudd Center at Yale University.