Philip Napoli, James R. Shepley Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, and Christopher Bail, Douglas and Ellen Lowey Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke, were named 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellows, the Carnegie Corporation of New York announced today.
They are among 35 scholars selected for the prestigious fellowship, which includes a $200,000 award.
The fellowship will support Napoli’s research concerning the influential role of algorithmically driven social media platforms and content aggregators in the production, dissemination, and consumption of news. Napoli is an affiliate of the school’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.
“I’m very excited that the Carnegie Corporation found this topic worthy of support, and I am incredibly honored to have been nominated for this fellowship by the Sanford School and the university,” Napoli said. “Given how rapidly things evolve in the world of online news and information, having time to focus exclusively on this book project is going to very helpful in producing something that’s timely and relevant.”
Napoli take a leave from teaching during 2018 to focus on research for his next book, “Media Technocracy: The Rise of Algorithmic News and the Future of the Marketplace of Ideas.” His research will examine the broad public interest and media governance priorities that should inform this rapidly evolving field.
Napoli pointed to recent controversies over the role of non-traditional news sources, such as allegations that Facebook suppressed conservative news stories and criticisms that Twitter’s “trending topics” algorithm misrepresented the importance of social movements.
“Algorithmic media have emerged as the contemporary battleground on which long-standing debates and concerns about concentration of media power, objectivity in journalism and the place of the public interest and social responsibility in media, are starting to play out,” Napoli wrote in his grant application.
Bail is studying predictors of violent extremism using Google search data, and how social networks influence political polarization. He analyzes large groups of texts from newspapers, television, public opinion surveys, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in order to study how nonprofit organizations and other political actors shape public discourse. Bail has a second faculty appointment in the Sanford School.
“I am deeply honored by this award,” Bail said. “It will allow me to pursue new research that will help create more effective counter-narratives to fight violent extremism on social media as part of the emerging field of computational social science."
The Carnegie Corporation of New York was established in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. It focuses on international peace, education and knowledge, and a strong democracy.
Phil Napoli discusses how algorithms rule social media feeds, and what kind of policies might be implemented to regulate the companies who rely on algorithms.