between scenes of Empire, whereas in the dead time in
the wee hours of the night, slots are practically given away
More than ever before, Clinton and Trump were
running their own infomercials, day and night, for anyone
who wanted to consume them. We see these messages via
social media—tweets, Facebook posts, Snapchat stories,
and the like.
Brownell says social media allows the candidates to
bypass traditional media filters. The candidate controls the
message and can target it to a specific audience. “The social
media innovation in response to technology was very much at
play here,” Brownell says. “This is building on a historical
trend of candidates trying to capitalize on new technology
to personalize their messages to a wide variety of voters.”
And like an infomercial, once you get past the
production costs—a social media team, which Trump may
have bypassed by crafting his own messages—the costs to
broadcast are minimal or nonexistent.
An episode of The Twilight Zone
The hallmark of a good episode of The Twilight Zone
included a major twist. You think you have a handle on the
story—and then something completely unexpected, and
sometimes unsettling, happens.
Sorin Adam Matei, a professor in the Brian Lamb
School of Communication studying reputation and
authority on social media, has been analyzing the social
media record of both presidential nominees. He and his
graduate students kept a blog that analyzed the social media
output from the presidential candidates, including how
those posts and tweets were liked, favored, and shared—
and later, interpreted by the media and the electorate. His
National Science Foundation–funded project kredible.net,
is a landing place for global scholars who are trying to
understand roles and authority in social media.
If we were to base expectations on past elections, it
would seem that Clinton’s inclusive approach on Twitter,
Facebook, and even other traditional media outlets would
resonate more with voters. Trump’s willingness to alienate
large segments of the population would likely be a turnoff.
That, of course, is not what Matei saw.
“Trump was not the marginal candidate that his
rhetoric indicated him to be,” Matei says. “We should have
seen Clinton doing better on social media, where both
Facebook and Twitter are dominated by younger, more
Turn to one of the cable news networks to catch up on the presidential
election commentary, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a political
scientist weighing in on the day’s events.
There’s also a good chance that political scientist will be male.
Nadia E. Brown, associate professor of political science and African-American studies, says it’s a trend that she sees not only on television, but
also at conferences and other academic events. Men are the experts, and
women tend to be assigned to lesser tasks.
“It’s nothing to see academic panels where you have all men, and
they’re seen as the experts. There is this gender hierarchy in academia,” she
says. “It’s not that more men are being asked because there are more men.
It’s that men are seen as experts and are asked to fulfill expert roles, and
women are asked to fill service roles that don’t get the same credit.”
To combat that, Brown is part of a group of women who started
#womenalsoknowstuff on social media. They use the hashtag to highlight
the contributions of female scholars who can and should contribute to
national discussions, and they tweet at @womenalsoknow. The group’s
website lists more than 1,000 political scientists who are available to talk
about a variety of topics.
Brown and her colleagues are collecting data on the lack of female
representation in expert panels and the media. They’ve applied for funding
from the National Science Foundation to continue the study, and hope
to use focus groups and interviews to determine how best to bring the
contributions of female experts to the forefront.
Members of the movement have spoken at conferences about the
need to diversify expert sources, and Brown says the reception has been
positive. “We found tremendous interest and success mostly in our main
discipline of political science, but also throughout liberal arts,” Brown says.
“We get people on both sides—women who are eager to say, ‘I want to
participate, how do I get involved,’ and men who say, ‘I didn’t realize this
GETTING A SEAT ON THE EXPERT PANEL
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