Howard Tumber and Silvio Waisbord

The premise of this Companion is that recent transformations in the architecture of public communication and particular attributes of the digital media ecology are conducive to the kind of polarised, anti-rational, post-fact, post-truth communication championed by populism. The rise of populist parties, politicians, and movements around the world is grounded in multiple causes. It is no coincidence that the resurgence of populism has been taking place alongside new forms of disinformation and misinformation.

The purpose of this Companion is to bring together in one volume contemporary analyses of various dimensions of dis/misinformation and populism and to understand the linkages between media and journalistic practices and political processes in different countries and cultures.

The relation between populism and mis/disinformation is at the centre of recent research in journalism studies, political communication, and media studies. The guiding question is whether new forms of disinformation and misinformation are connected to populism. Although populism lacks a single definition, we understand it to be a political movement that both reflects the crisis of liberal democracy and challenges core democratic premises, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, government accountability, and tolerance of difference.

While we recognise that the rise of populist parties, politicians, and movements around the world is grounded in multiple causes, our interest in this Companion is exploring whether and how recent transformations in the spaces of public communication and particular attributes of the digital media ecology are conducive to populism. Just as right-wing populism has ascended in many countries in the past years, notably in Brazil, Britain, Hungary, India, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, and the United States, irrationalism in public communication is on the rise too. The latter is represented by post-fact, post-truth communication, as illustrated by the spread of fake information, conspiracy beliefs, and propaganda — issues that have received significant attention and raised justifiable concerns worldwide in recent years. Irrationalism comprises both disinformation and misinformation. Disinformation refers to deliberate attempts to sow confusion and misinformation among the public, with the purpose of political gain by a range of public, private, and social actors. Misinformation alludes to the existence of false information around a range of issues relevant to public life, including political, historical, health, social, and environmental matters, in the public.

We believe it is necessary to audit existing knowledge to map out the dynamics of mis/disinformation globally and their linkages to the current ‘populist moment’. While on the surface there seems to be a connection between communication and political trends, it is not immediately obvious that dis/misinformation is necessarily conducive to the kind of illiberal politics represented and championed by populism. To flesh out the relationship between developments in public communication and political dynamics, we think it is necessary to understand the multiple dimensions and the new aspects of mis/disinformation; to study the unique aspects of contemporary populism in relation to media, journalism, and public communication; and to examine plausible and demonstrable connections between these developments. In Chapter 1 we attempt, as editors, to highlight and contextualise the key themes, questions, and debates relevant to media, mis/disinformation, and populism. We set the ‘scene’and map key processes and questions for the Companion. We outline the principal aims and objectives. In conceptual terms, we discuss the intellectual formation of media, misinformation, and populism; definitions and models; and introduce key interdisciplinary debates about misinformation and the reporting of various aspects of populism.

To explore these issues and the relationship between communication/informational trends and populism, we asked contributors to produce in-depth analyses of key concepts in the literature and to discuss linkages to specific aspects of populist politics, including new empirical work. With this goal in mind, we requested that contributors consider several questions. Are media, disinformation, and populist politics connected; if so, how; and what is the nature of these connections? What specific media changes foster disinformation? What is new about current forms of disinformation, and how are they linked to political strategies and movements? Finally is populism both a cause and effect of deep transformations in media and information?

This introduction explains the rationale for the selection of parts and topics and provides an overview of each chapter.

The Routledge Companion to Media Disinformation and Populism is divided into five parts:

Part 1 Key Concepts

Part II Media Misinformation and Disinformation

Part III The Politics of Misinformation and Disinformation

Part IV Media and Populism

Part V Responses to Misinformation, Disinformation and Populism

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >