2011: In the Name of Democracy: Political Communication Research & Practice in a Polarized Media Environment
The study and practice of political communication are at a crossroads. Within the past decade, the political and media environment has rapidly become markedly more fragmented and polarized. Control of the White House and Congress has shifted back and forth across parties, bringing dramatic changes—and often gridlock—to national policy agendas. Presidents and other elected representatives struggle to make policy and communicate with the public in an often corrosive political atmosphere. And reporters try to make sense of it all with fewer resources and a seemingly less attentive public.
What can be done to improve the study and practice of political communication in this changed environment? How can scholars learn more from practitioners and practitioners learn more from scholars in order to elevate political discourse and public understanding? And crucially, what can the academy do to prepare students for the changing world of media and politics? Learn More...
2010 :: The Influence of Ethnic Media on Politics and Participation
This symposium sought to provide fresh perspectives on ethnic media -- their relevancy among political professionals, academics, ethnic, general audience and digital media professionals, their impact on civic participation and voting patterns and their value to the general audience press and consumers. Learn More...
2009 :: By the People, For the People: Redefining Public Opinion Polling in an Age of Segmented Markets and Personalized Communication
Mark Blumenthal described the 2008 presidential election as the “perfect storm” for pollsters. A potential Bradley effect, an increasingly cell-phone only population, and aggressive registration and mobilization campaigns by Barack Obama challenged conventional understanding about how to measure and report public preferences. In this symposium, we explore the issues involved in gauging public opinion in an age of increasingly personalized and interactive communications. We also place recent developments in public opinion polling into a broader historical context, examine how the construct meaning from public opinion surveys, and conclude by looking at the future of public opinion polling. The 2009 symposium idea came from the Manship School’s Kirby Goidel, who was also the lead organizer. Essays by the panelists will result in the publication of a volume in the Media & Public Affairs book series, a collaborative project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs and LSU Press. Learn More...
2008 :: New Models for News
The 2008 Breaux Symposium, “New Models for News,” expanded on the findings of the 2004 symposium, “News in the Public Interest.” The April 25-26 symposium broadened the analysis of original news-gathering and publication to include nonprofit and for profit economic models not just inside the U.S., but internationally, in particular Europe. Organized by Chuck Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity and president of the Fund for Independence in Journalism and John Maxwell Hamilton, LSU's provost and executive vice chancellor and former dean of the Manship School, the symposium featured essays and discussion from a distinguished panel of scholars and professionals. Learn More...
2007 :: A Toolkit for News Consumers
The 2007 Breaux Symposium examined the rigorous relationship that should exist between the media and informed news consumers by using the 2008 presidential election as a starting point.
2005 :: We Hold These Truths? How New Technology is Changing Foreign Affairs Reporting
The job of a foreign correspondent, as Richard DiBenedetto of USA Today put it, is "to go someplace where the people at home can't go and [truthfully] tell them what happened when you got there." This Breaux Symposium explored ways that new media technology--from satellites and cell phones to digital convergence and the Internet--has changed the creation of foreign news, its delivery, the amount and style of coverage, the accuracy and reliability of information from abroad, public opinion about foreign affairs, and the economics of the media industry. The findings from this symposium resulted in a book published through the Media & Public Affairs bookseries from Pigeons to News Portals, edited by David Perlmutter and John Maxwell Hamilton.
2004 :: News in the Public Interest: A Free and Subsidized Press
The fifth annual Breaux Symposium, entitled “News in the Public Interest: A Free and Subsidized Press,” focused on a clear though complex question – how can you increase the production, dissemination, and consumption of hard news? The conference was built on the premise that while media markets deliver diverse, instantaneous, and voluminous amounts of information, there are predictable flaws in media coverage. The lack of expressed demand and high costs of production increasingly mean hard news is eclipsed in print and broadcast markets. The emphasis on entertainment and journalists as celebrities crowds out discussion of public affairs. The 2004 symposium focused on a discussion of the types of efforts needed to raise the quality and quantity of hard news, given the economics of news markets. Topics of discussion included: the potential costs of interventions, their likelihood of success, and the indicators one would use to measure progress in promoting public discussion, comprehension, and participation in politics.The six session topics were non-profit ownership, foundation subsidies for information, individual/family ownership, partisan information, government subsidies and international models.
2003 :: Freeing the Presses
Organized by Dr. Timothy Cook, The Manship School of Mass Communication’s Reilly Chair in Political Communication, the 2003 Breaux Symposium explored the first amendment from three areas: law and history, institutional autonomy of the press, and the economic and technological situations of the news media. The symposium included a presentation of academic papers written specifically on the three areas: Law and History, Institutional Autonomy of the Press and Economic and Technological Situations of the New Media. The session included prepared comments from responders and questions from audience members.
2002 :: Parties, PACs and Persuasion: New Ways of Connecting with Voters
This symposium included 12 panelists who participated in a round table discussion. Questions the panel addressed concerned the role of advocacy groups in today's campaigns, the role of the media in multi-dimensional campaigns and the future of the parties in political campaigns.
2001 :: Voting Alone
The 2001 symposium explored the disconnect among voters, the amount of information available from the media, how voters are making decisions and the impact of the historic 2000 presidential elections on future interactions among the media, candidates and the electorate.
2000 :: The Press at the Turn of the Century
The inaugural Breaux Symposium, “The Press at the Turn of the Century,” was held in 2000. It investigated the Press’s decline in credibility with the American public and how journalists could restore confidence in a profession badly tarnished by excess and competition.