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  • Author or Editor: Jannie Møller Hartley x
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This concluding chapter takes stock of the contributions made by this volume, in which we developed the concept of datapublics to understand the transformations that have affected the fields of journalism and media. We suggest seeing the construction of publics as hybrid – not directly connected to any specific media space or enabled by any specific technology – as a struggle between different normative ideals embodied in publics, and as a process involving different modalities of publicness and datafication. Publicness (attention, visibility, legitimacy, hierarchization and valorization) and datafication (as a process, a discourse and a value-system) become physical, virtual and imagined spaces in which struggles for the construction of datapublics take place, struggles that affect not only how datapublics come into being in datafied societies, but with all actors involved in their formation.

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This chapter uses the concept of ‘imaginaries’ as an overarching heuristic to analyse how publics are discursively constructed through imaginaries of measurement technologies. We illustrate this empirically through a case study of a technological drama, the launching of and responses to a personalization algorithm at the New York Times. Thus, we argue first that different imaginaries of the public and the press as cultivators of those publics are invoked when attempting to legitimize or delegitimize emergent technologies. Second, by linking our case study to a historization of the increasingly datafied distribution and audience measurement technologies, we explore how publics/audiences are constructed differently as new measurement technologies emerge, from democratic collectives to segmented consumers, and finally, with the introduction of personalized recommendations as aggregated datapoints.

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In this chapter, we investigate media organizations’ introduction of personalized content distribution as the next step in a long datafied evolution. With rich empirical examples from ethnographic fieldwork and qualitative interviews, we show how publics are cultivated through what we label ‘personalization logics’: individualism; dataism; and binarity and predeterminedness. These ‘personalization logics’, we argue, become drivers for how media organizations (re)construct their audiences, namely as aggregated, predictable and controllable datapoints. Thus, this reconstruction of the audience allows the media organizations to engage in new forms of publics cultivation – publics by design – as they now materially begin to shape and design the publics they wish to cultivate into these systems. Finally, we discuss the broader implications of these processes and the cultivation of publics as personalized aggregated ‘dividuals’ by news media in a datafied era.

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This chapter introduces the framework of the book and discusses its central concepts: datafication and publics. The chapter lays out the conjunctures of a technological drama, with a rise and fall narrative regarding processes of public formation in datafied societies. The drama stages three characters: a victim, in the form of the passive, defenceless public; a villain, Big Tech; and a hero, journalism. The chapter argues that the drama needs to be challenged by theoretical and empirical research. We suggest the notion of datapublics as a lens to investigate how publics are constructed at the junction of journalistic media, technological infrastructures and agentic citizens.

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The Construction of Publics in Datafied Democracies

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This book addresses new challenges to the formation of publics in datafied democracies. It proposes a fresh, complex and nuanced approach to understand ‘datapublics’, by considering datafication and public formation in the context of audience, journalism and infrastructure studies.

The tightly woven chapters shed new light on how platforms, algorithms and their data infrastructure are embedded in journalistic values, discourses and practices, opening up new conditions for publics to display agency, mobilise and achieve legitimacy.

This is a seminal contribution to the debates about the future of media, journalism and civic practices.

Open access

The book addresses new challenges to the formation of publics in datafied democracies. It proposes a fresh, complex and nuanced approach to understand ‘datapublics’, by considering datafication and public formation in the context of audience, journalism and infrastructure studies.

The tightly woven chapters shed new light on how platforms, algorithms and their data infrastructure are interwoven with journalistic values, discourses and practices, opening up new conditions for publics to display agency, mobilize and achieve legitimacy. It does so across empirical sites such as anti-COVID-19 protest movements, newsrooms in media organizations, comment sections, Facebook groups and data science departments inside media organizations. Building on rich empirical analysis it shows how publics are constructed and negotiated in the intersection of audience agency, digital infrastructures and media cultivation. It conceptualizes publicness as modalities, emphasizing stratification, legitimization, visibility, attention and recognition, and illustrates how datafication as a value system and discourse has an impact on those modalities.

Open access

The book addresses new challenges to the formation of publics in datafied democracies. It proposes a fresh, complex and nuanced approach to understand ‘datapublics’, by considering datafication and public formation in the context of audience, journalism and infrastructure studies.

The tightly woven chapters shed new light on how platforms, algorithms and their data infrastructure are interwoven with journalistic values, discourses and practices, opening up new conditions for publics to display agency, mobilize and achieve legitimacy. It does so across empirical sites such as anti-COVID-19 protest movements, newsrooms in media organizations, comment sections, Facebook groups and data science departments inside media organizations. Building on rich empirical analysis it shows how publics are constructed and negotiated in the intersection of audience agency, digital infrastructures and media cultivation. It conceptualizes publicness as modalities, emphasizing stratification, legitimization, visibility, attention and recognition, and illustrates how datafication as a value system and discourse has an impact on those modalities.

Open access

The book addresses new challenges to the formation of publics in datafied democracies. It proposes a fresh, complex and nuanced approach to understand ‘datapublics’, by considering datafication and public formation in the context of audience, journalism and infrastructure studies.

The tightly woven chapters shed new light on how platforms, algorithms and their data infrastructure are interwoven with journalistic values, discourses and practices, opening up new conditions for publics to display agency, mobilize and achieve legitimacy. It does so across empirical sites such as anti-COVID-19 protest movements, newsrooms in media organizations, comment sections, Facebook groups and data science departments inside media organizations. Building on rich empirical analysis it shows how publics are constructed and negotiated in the intersection of audience agency, digital infrastructures and media cultivation. It conceptualizes publicness as modalities, emphasizing stratification, legitimization, visibility, attention and recognition, and illustrates how datafication as a value system and discourse has an impact on those modalities.

Open access