ICA 2017 – It never rains in Southern California

ica17_panel(This was the panel I was on for the personalisation talk during the main conference – from left to right: Folker Hanusch, Chris Peters (our chair), Sarah Ganter, me, Ruth Palmer, Jacob Nelson; my photo)

… and that was another great conference that I had the opportunity to attend: ICA 2017. For the uninitiated: the “ICA” is the annual conference of the International Communication Association, and the biggest conference in the field of communication science. Around 3000 delegates attend each year, and in 2017, the organisers counted 3,367 people wandering the halls of the conference hotel.  With these large numbers of people and talks, one always has to choose where to go and what to see – there are usually around ten parallel tracks for each time slot. For anyone who wants to get a taste of how hard it is to figure out a personal timetable for these four days, here is a link to the full programme of this year’s conference. This ICA took place in San Diego, USA, from 25th to 29th of May – and it actually rained while I was there, even though it was just a drizzle. Apart from that, San Diego is quite a nice city, and I definitely enjoyed a walk or two through town.

But on to the conference itself – I was involved in three talks, one at a preconference, and two during the main conference. Yes, ICA itself is not enough, and there were also pre-conferences which took place the day before the main conference began. I took part in “Distribution Matters: Media Circulation in Civic Life and Popular Culture”, which featured a very diverse audience, all of them working somehow on “media distribution”. I talked about how the use of algorithms on news websites affect the relationship of media outlets and readers, and other panelists took other routes, such as talking about how cable TV took over Manhattan, or how film festivals distribute their media. The full programme of this preconference can be found here, and as an extra treat I can say that the audio of some presentations (mine included) is online here. My thanks go out to the organisers Josh Braun, Roman Labato, and Amanda Lotz – it was a great day!

ICA started fully the next day, with the other two talks scheduled back to back in the morning. Phew! Neil talked about our study on the perception of journalists on automated journalism (I wrote more about that a while ago here (in German)), and I gave the presentation on our longitudinal study on personalisation of content on news outlets’ websites. I was on a great panel with Folker Hanusch and Edson Tandoc, Jacob Nelson, Sarah Ganter, and Ruth Palmer. Also, the panel drew quite the audience, as can be seen in our session chair’s tweet. Thanks for the photo, Chris!

Apart from my own talks, I learned about other types of automated journalism, digital election campaigns, and US college sports – and a lot more. As I already said – so much to do! And, of course, so many people to see! As ICA is the biggest conference in the field, I saw quite a few friends, and also made new ones, as it should be.

So, ICA is over, the next one will be a lot closer to home – I’m looking forward to Prague!