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2008 News and Events

2008 CCCE newsletter
The CCCE and its Learning Communities have been busy this year. The 2008 newsletter has the latest updates on:

  • Becoming Citizens connects undergraduate interns with Seattle-area youth.
  • What's the Economy For, Anyway? addresses quality of life, social justice and sustainability.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston discussed big money, taxes, and how much of what we pay to the government goes to corporations and moguls during a Citizen Roundtable.
  • CCCE is using grants from the MacArthur Foundation and Surdna Foundation to address what kinds of civic skills young people may be learning in online environments and to build advocacy skills training modules.
  • Seattle youth commons Puget Sound Off is scheduled to launch in September.
  • CCCE director Lance Bennett receives National Communication Association and University of Washington awards.

Cyberpolitics 2.0: An Interdisciplinary Colloquium
Friday, May 30
Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Communication 126

The Center for Communication and Civic Engagement is proud to announce its lunch conversation for spring quarter. Come for the free lunch, stay for the cutting-edge graduate research.

Over the past 15 years, new technologies have fundamentally transformed the practice of politics worldwide. Social networking, streaming video, blogs, e-campaigns, and e-government are only a few of the tools that have emerged as fertile loci for research in this constantly evolving field. Departments as diverse as communication, information science, geography, political science, international relations, and public policy have brought a wide variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to bear on these issues, enriching the literature with interdisciplinary ferment. Whether you are a cyberpolitics expert or simply would like to know more about the field, we hope you will join us for a stimulating showcase of graduate research aimed at making scholarly sense of our digitally-augmented political landscape.

The following graduate students will be presenting:
  • Jessica Beyer, Ph.C., Political Science
    "Apathy to Activism? Anonymous v. Scientology"
  • Kris Erickson, Ph.C., Geography
    "Personal Firewall: How hackers are re-imagining risk in the information society"
  • Deen Freelon, master's student, Communication
    "Managed Apprentices or Autonomous Agents? Assessing Online Civic Designs for Digital Natives"
  • Sophie Namy, master's student, Jackson School of Int'l Studies/Evans School of Public Affairs
    "Investigating Media Constructions of Migrants: Insights From Online News Forums in India"

Please RSVP to reserve yourself a lunch, and indicate if you would like it to be vegetarian. Non-RSVPers are welcome to attend but are not guaranteed lunch.

The Center for Communication and Civic Engagement in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington is dedicated to research, the creation of citizen resources and student-designed learning experiences that develop new areas of positive citizen involvement in politics and social life. Our primary focus is to understand how new information technologies can supplement more traditional forms of communication to facilitate civic engagement. Through quarterly luncheons, the CCCE brings together faculty, staff and students to discuss their research on these themes.

CCCE Citizen Roundtable
Thursday, May 1
"Loss of Skepticism: How Subsidies for Wal-Mart, Tyco and The Donald Became 'Good' News"
David Cay Johnston
6:30: Reception
7-8:30: Talk and Roundtable Discussion
The University of Washington Club
Listen to the podcast:

2007 News and Events

CCCE Citizen Roundtable
Tuesday, October 30
Targeting Iran: The Intersection of American Media and Foreign Policy
David Barsamian
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Communications Building Room 126

CCCE News 2007 (PDF)

Which Way for the Northwest Social Forum? A dialog on cross-issue organizing

The Northwest Social Forum (NWSF) was organized over a 1 ½ year period, leading up to a planned weekend long event in Seattle, Washington. The World Social Forum was started in 2001 in Brazil, and local and regional Social Fora have become a significant positive force in global justice organizing by connecting activists and organizers across issues and geography, resulting in several movement coalition and actions. The NWSF would have been the second Social Forum in the US, following the Boston Social Forum. Concerns about process emerged 2 ½ months before the planned event, eventually resulting in the Indigenous Planning Committee's decision to pull-out of the Forum. The Film Planning Committee and Youth Planning Committee followed, and the main Planning Committee decided to cancel the event just 9 days before the event. Both the process and the call to cancel have resulted in a significant amount of criticism, but no formal process was undertaken to evaluate and move forward. The first US Social Forum is planned for June 27th - uly 1st, 2007 in Atlanta, and some effort is being made to organize regionally for the Forum in the Northwest. This report has collected and organized online organizing documents, survey results and interviews around 10 main themes that emerged through the process: organization, decision-making, race, conflict, technology, funding, geography, time, cancellation, and thoughts for the future.

Participants and readers are invited to contribute to a dialog around these themes and issues on the project's website, hopefully contributing to the development of further Social Forum organizing.

As a gathering of opinions by many of those most involved with the Northwest Social Forum this report is intended to foster a learning environment that may help future social movement efforts. This document has been published online, and an opportunity has been provided there for readers to discuss findings and future steps.

Download "Which Way for the Northwest Social Forum? A dialog on cross-issue organizing"

For complete statements, and online discussion about the themes discussed here please visit the project website. www.engagedcitizen.org/nwsf

Transnational Advocacy Networks: Case Studies from Europe and the US
Friday, April 27
Conference Announcement (PDF)

2006 News and Events

2006 News Highlights

CCCE continues to expand its focus on how communication can facilitate citizenship and civic engagement. The scope of this year's activities include: new research on the political impact of conventional journalism, investigations of how various digital information technologies facilitate citizen activism, the importance of the web in elections, and expanded initiatives to help young people connect with politics and government. Here are some of the highlights:


The research scene has been busy this year. An international team led by Kirsten Foot is completing a comparative analysis of the role of the Web in national elections in 20 countries across Europe, Australasia, and North America. Results from the European cases will be appear soon in a special issue of the journal Information Polity. Findings from the whole project will be published in The Internet and National Elections: A Global Comparative Perspective, edited by Randolph Kluver, Kirsten Foot, Nicholas Jankowski, and Steven Schneider, forthcoming from Routledge. A team headed by Lance Bennett is nearing completion of a book project on the dependency of the press on government spin during the Iraq War. A new project has just been funded to enable collaborating with Belgian and Canadian scholars on ways in which citizen activists are using new information technologies to engage more effectively in politics.

Civic Education Initiatives

The Center continues to be a place where research intersects with the learning experience so that students can apply what they learn in the classroom in the world around them. We are pleased with the number of students who continue to respond to our concerns about the precarious involvement of young citizens in our democracy. An important program in this area is Student Voices, a civic education project in the Seattle Schools that operates with generous funding from the Norcliffe and Charlotte Martin foundations. We are also in the early stages of expanding our civic education mission into community programs for young people, particularly kids at risk. The most exciting development in this area is a new project designing University of Washington student service internships to help place trained students in classrooms and community centers to facilitate youth engagement with their communities. This effort is part of a campus wide civic engagement initiative in partnership with the Harvard Campaign for Civic Engagement, which supports bringing our student leaders to Harvard twice a year to help coordinate this national effort.

CCCE Citizen Roundtable Lectures

Another exciting outreach program is our new CCCE Citizen Roundtable speaker series that draws top talent from the university to make presentations on timely topics to a growing group of interested community members and CCCE supporters. This year's series includes lively discussions of the problem of press dependence on government, the impact of fundamentalist religion on contemporary politics, the privatization of public space, the transformation of US foreign policy, and privacy and the internet. This series reflects our continuing commitment to building bridges between the university and the community.
Read more about the Citizen Roundtable Lectures...

Online Collective Action Symposium

We are also pleased to co-sponsor a campus symposium on Social Movements and Online Collective Action (February 10) drawing talent from a number of departments on campus and as well as invited guests. Danyel Fisher, a researcher in Microsoft's Community Technologies Group, will contribute insights based on his analyses of the ways that questions are answered, politics are discussed, and social support is given in online groups. Zack Exley, a political strategist with the DC-based communications firm OMP and director of the New Organizing Institute, a training program for online organizers in politics, will talk about lessons learned from his experiences as special projects director for the MoveOn PAC and director of online communications and organization for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.


As many of these activities are outside the normal range of things that foundations fund, we are also spending a good bit of time and energy developing supporters for CCCE. The speaker series has been an important energy source in this effort. We are also grateful for the support of a number of individuals, local foundations (Norcliffe and Charlotte Martin), and the Microsoft Corporation. This support makes our public service programming possible, and enables us to employ talented students at CCCE, who have demonstrated amazing leadership skills.

CCCE continues to be a lively and interesting place thanks to the involvement of many students and the support of our faculty affiliates. Thanks for your interest!

Beyond the Media Image: A Citizen Roundtable on Politics and Democracy

February 8, 2006
Privatization of Public Life
Katharyne Mitchell
6:30-8:30 p.m.
CMU 126

October 28, 2005
"Religious Politics and an Echoing Press"
David Domke
College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Conference Room #50 Communications Building

September 21, 2005
"Media Democracy: When Government Works, and What Citizens Can Do When It Doesn't"
Lance Bennett
Download a copy of the lecture here - (PDF File)
Communications 206
6:30-8 p.m.

Overcoming Mainstream Media Spin: Exploring the Role of Independent Media

Monday, May 23
Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Media
Kane Hall Room 110
7 p.m.
Admission free; donations accepted to support RTM's Seattle cable franchise campaign

Jeff Cohen, founder of the media watch group FAIR, is also co-author (with Norman Solomon) of The Wizards of Media Oz, and has been a distinguished media pundit with Fox and MSNBC, and a co-host of CNN's Crossfire. Former producer of the latter network's ill-fated Phil Donahue Show, Cohen also served in 2003 as Communications Director of the Kucinich for President campaign.

Once, mainstream news outlets transmitted controversy and debate. Today, they are increasingly the subject of controversy and debate which is a good thing, says Cohen: "People need to be skeptical of the news they get from the press, TV, radio and the Internet." Cohen offers tools to help news consumers separate media fact from media fiction, and to understandthe trend toward tabloidism. "We live in the most media-dominated culture in the world," says Cohen, "with a shrinking number of giant corporations wielding unprecedented power over the public mind."

This event is presented by Reclaim the Media, and cosponsored by the Seattle Alliance for Media Education, the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, the Northwest Center for Excellence in Media Literacy, Newground Social Investment and KBCS. for more information, see www.reclaimthemedia.org.

Mini-Symposium: The Media & Iraq

Time: 3:30 - 5:00 Monday, April 11
Place: Communications 126

Spring 2005 Newsletter

In the Margins: Political Victory in the Context of Technology Error, Residual Votes, and Incident Reports in 2004.

Philip N. Howard

In very close elections, the margin of error for the system of collecting and counting votes may be greater than the margin of victory for a candidate We evaluate three ways of thinking about error in an election: technology error, residual votes, and incident reports. In 2004, we find seven states where electoral outcomes were certified even though the margin of error in that state's voting process was greater than the margin of victory for the declared winner Florida, Kentucky and South Dakota certified Republican Party candidates for the US Senate; electoral college votes in Iowa and New Mexico were assigned to Bush; electoral college votes in New Hampshire were assigned to Kerry; Washington state certified a Democratic Party candidate for Governor. In each case, the electoral outcome was legitimated by elections officials, not the electorate, because in very close races the voting process cannot reveal electoral intent. Public policy solutions are offered, such as run-off elections, standardized data reporting about error rates, and open source technology solutions.


2004 News and Events

CCCE Newsletter for Winter/Spring, 2004

The Election Comes to Campus

Frontline's "The Choice 2004" airs Monday, November 1 2004 from 7:00 - 9:00 in Communications 125.


CCCE Speaker Series

The Center for Communication and Civic Engagement Presents
Doug Schuler on Civic Intelligence -- May 25

"Smart Enough Soon Enough?
Understanding and Enhancing Society's Civic Intelligence"

HTML Notes for Doug Schuler's lecture.

From global warming and disease to famine and war, humankind is faced with enormous challenges that won't go away. With our sophisticated knowledge and advanced technology, one might assume that we would be making progress on all these fronts. Yet, in many cases, the situation seems to be growing worse. Is there anything that people, working individually and with others, can do to help make progress on these problems? Or should we just count on others, presumably those with more insight, experience, time, and money, to take care of things?

Civic intelligence is a concept that is intended to help us better understand -- and improve -- society's collective problem-solving abilities or what Dewey called the "final pooled intelligence constituted by the contributions of all." Although society employs civic intelligence already, society's need for collective problem-solving skills has never been more acute. My objective is to collaboratively construct a model or theory of "civic intelligence" that is useful for developing those skills and helping us pursue a more conscious evolution of our collective capabilities.

"While what we call intelligence may be distributed in unequal amounts, it is the democratic faith that is sufficiently general so that each individual has something to contribute, and the value of each contribution can be assessed only as it entered into the final pooled intelligence constituted by the contributions of all." -- John Dewey, 1937

His article, "Cultivating Society's Civic Intelligence: Patterns for a New 'World Brain'" was published in Journal of Society, Information and Communication, vol 4 No. 2

Time: Tuesday May 25, 3:30 - 5
Place: Room 126 Communications Building


Michael Schudson -- April 22
"What Do Presidential Primaries Mean?"

Come and hear Michael Schudson discuss the peculiar institution of the American presidential primary. What is the history of these strange things and how did they get to be so important? How they have evolved into singular media events that give journalists an occasion for providing a reading of American politics and society? This journalistic reading is partly instructive, particularly about regional and demographic diversities. It is also mythological: about "the grass roots" and about "presidential-ness" and other topics.

This brief opening presentation will be followed by a conversation with the audience on the role of the press in presidential election politics.

Time: Thursday, April 22, 3:30 - 5
Place : Communications Building 126
Sponsored By: The Center for Communication & Civic Engagement


Guest Speaker Bat Sparrow:
"A Research Agenda for an Institutional News Media"

( Download Adobe PDF Flyer )

Are the news media a governing institution?
Why does this matter?
How do we research an institutional media?

Date: Wednesday February 18
Time: 12 – 1:20
Place: Communications Building Room 321

Although many scholars have argued for the institutional status of the U.S. media, research on the U.S. political system typically ignores the role of the news media in political processes and government operations. Sparrow explains why the media need to be considered a political institution, and looks at the impact that this has on the investigation of news media that effectively amount to being a political institution.

Bartholomew Sparrow is the author of Uncertain Guardians: The News Media as a Political Institution (Johns Hopkins, 1999), From the Outside In: World War II and the American State (Princeton, 1996) and Our Shadow States: The Insular Cases and the Territories of the United States (Kansas, forthcoming). He is also the co-editor, with Roderick Hart, of Politics, Discourse, and American Society (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001). Professor Sparrow has received the Pi Sigma Alpha award for the best paper presented at the APSA annual conference and the Franklin L. Burdette Award for the best dissertation in public administration. He has received fellowships from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, and the Harry S. Truman Library Institute. He is an associate professor in Government at The University of Texas at Austin.


2003 News and Events

CCCE Newsletter for Spring, 2003

A Series of Events on Digital Network Analysis Featuring Richard Rogers, University of Amsterdam

The Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, the Digital Media Working Group, and the Center for American Politics are pleased to announce a visit by Dr. Richard Rogers on Tuesday, May 13.

Dr. Rogers is an assistant professor in the Department of New Media Studies University of Amsterdam and visiting professor in the philosophy and social study of science at the University of Vienna. He also advises Infodrome, the Dutch Government's think tank for the information society. He is the author of Technological Landscapes (London: Royal College of Art,1999) and editor of Preferred Placement: Knowledge Politics on the Web (Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Editions, 2000). Rogers is currently working on two projects: IssueAtlas.net, a piece of server-side software and a set of network maps about globalisation issues; and a book.

10:00-11:30 "Mapping Issue Networks on the Web: Methods, Techniques, Claims" Hosted by the Digital Media Working Group, Allen Auditorium

12:30-1:30 Discussion of technical aspects of Web analysis
Hosted by the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, 1st floor of Communication Building, across from COM 120

2:00-3:00 "The News from Genoa: The Web Issue Index of Civil Society" Hosted by the Center for American Politics and Public Policy, Gowen 1B

International Survey on Anti-War Protests

On February 15, 2003, millions of people joined protest marches against war on Iraq in many countries all over the world. Some commentators have called it the largest global protest ever. Why do people take part in such demonstrations? Where do they get their political information? Are demonstrators mostly seasoned political campaigners, or have the demonstrations mobilized many first-time protesters?

These are some of the questions being investigated by a team of American and European researchers in a cooperative survey project. The CCCE led the American contingent in this major empirical research effort. With the help of student volunteers, over 2,000 questionnaires were distributed to protesters at the New York, San Francisco, and Seattle demonstrations. A copy of the survey and description of the research can be found here.

Politics, The Press, and Free Speech: A Discussion of Current Issues from Public Records Reform to the Patriot Act

On April 18, a talk by Emily Erickson, Professor, Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University.


2002 News and Events

SPIN 1.0 Meeting
The first meeting of the SPIN project was held in December, 2002. Billed as a "conversation with community organizers, culture workers, and media activists aimed at creating a Seattle Political Information Network," the meeting served as a fruitful brainstorming session for creating an interactive information and publicity system for community activists and issue advocacy networks. Distributed at the meeting was a SPIN 1.0 document detailing a vision for the project, a program for the meeting, and background information of participants. A SPIN 2.0 meeting is being planned for Spring, 2003.

CCCE Newsletter for October, 2002

Panel on Cyberactivism- Tuesday, October 29, 12:30 - 1:30
in Communication Building, Room 126

Panelists: Sheri Herndon, Independent Media Center & Doug Schuler, Public Sphere Project & Seattle Community Network
Moderator: Lance Bennett, Professor, Political Science & Communication, UW
(Event co-sponsored by the Digital Media Working Group)

Forum on Comparative Journalism- Tuesday October 8, Room 126 Communication Building. 1:00- 2:30
CCCE is pleased to join the World Affairs Council, The Dart Center, the Russian and East Eurpean Program (REECAS) and the Department of Communication in sponsoring a roundtable discussion on issues facing journalists in East European democracies and the United States. University of Washington Faculty Roger Simpson, Jerry Baldasty and Lance Bennett will exchange perspectives with prominent journalists from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Poland. Topics include investigative journalism,economics and the news, journalists covering traumatic events, and the democratic role of journalism in different political systems. Open to the campus community. All are welcome to join in.

NAB Conference - September 12-14
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) will hold their annual conference at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. Fox News commentator, Bill O'Reily, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. For more details, please refer to the NAB homepage at http://www.nab.org/

Counter-NAB Conference - September 10-15
Media democracy activist groups will host a community media convergence shadowing the National Association of Broadcasters' (NAB) radio conference at various Seattle locations. Amy Goodman of Pacifica's Democracy Now! and David Barsamian of Alternative Radio are keynote speakers. Planned for the week are panels, teach-ins and lectures - along with various forms of entertainment and culture jamming, such as a performance by Mark Hosler of Negativland. Events are organized around the theme of media democracy, including broadcast media ownership issues.

The event is sponsored by the coalition, Cascadia Media Alliance. From their mission statement: "The Cascadia Media Alliance is a coalition of independent journalists, media activists and community organizers in the Pacific Northwest, promoting press freedom and community media access as prerequisites for a functioning democracy."

Check out the comprehensive website http://www.reclaimthemedia.org for in-depth description and a schedule of the conference's events. Many of the conference's endorsers and associated allies are listed on our Media Democracy page.