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News, Politics and the Ownership of Information


Event Summary

New news media have been a hot topic in political analysis the past few years. In this talk, an interdisciplinary group of scholars compared current news media’s growing pains to how news platforms and networks also transformed radically in the first centuries of print’s dissemination, especially the human social networks and agencies which strove to disseminate, control, and monetize news.

This discussion was part of a public dialogue series, supported by the Censorship, Information Control, and Information Revolutions from Printing Press to Internet research project at the Neubauer Collegium, which brought together scholars of print revolutions past and present with practitioners working on the frontiers of today’s information revolution. These events were not formal panels with presented papers, but free-form discussions in which experts bounced ideas off each other, discovering rich parallels between their work and sharing them in real time. Taking place from October through November, the eight dialogues united historians, editors, novelists, poets, and activists, and were filmed and shared online to let the public enjoy and continue the discussions.


Adrian Johns (printing history, history of copyright, radio, piracy)

Ada Palmer (Inquisition, pre-modern European censorship, censorship of comic books)

Will Slauter (University of Paris Diderot): News in the early print period

Siva Vaidhyanathan (University of Virginia): Digital media and social networks