Stuart Soroka

Faculty Associate, CPS
Associate Chair, LSA Communication And Media
Professor, LSA Communication And Media
Professor, LSA Political Science
Stuart Soroka

BIO

Stuart Soroka received a PhD in Political Science from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He came to Michigan in 2014, after 12 years in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal. Dr. Soroka is now the Michael W. Traugott Collegiate Professor of Communication Studies and Political Science, and Faculty Associate in the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research.

Representative democracy requires informed citizens; and traditional and social media are influential sources of (accurate or inaccurate) information about governments and policies. Dr. Soroka's research consequently focuses on the nature and impact of political news coverage. Current projects address two questions in particular.

First, Does media coverage offer an adequate amount of accurate information about public policy? Concerns about the quantity and quality of news coverage have been around as long as there have been mass media, but they are especially prescient given recent changes in the media landscape, and in press-government relations. Soroka's work relies on automated content-analytic techniques to identify and analyze policy information in newspapers, television and social media, and examine the accuracy of that information using data on government expenditures and policymaking. This research offers insight into the accuracy of coverage across media outlets, across policy domains, and over time.
Second, Are citizens able to efficiently process mediated information? Dr. Soroka's work in this area has addressed several issues. Recent research relies on cross-national psychophysiological experiments to better understand the human tendency to prioritize negative information over positive information. Other research focuses on the tendency for cognitive access to information to decrease when video is consumed on smaller screens, i.e., on mobile phones. Still other work examines the ways in which information about public affairs changes when filtered through social media.

Each of these fields of study contribute to what we know about media, and about media's role in representative democracy. Dr. Soroka's recent books include Degrees of Democracy and Negativity in Democratic Politics; these, and the forthcoming Information and Democracy, are published by Cambridge University Press. His papers have been published in major journals including the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Communication, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.