Event, Podcast, VideoOctober 6 2020

Metrics, Media, and Race

Angèle Christin and Joseph Torres

Databite No. 136

Does the current metrics-driven news landscape emerge from, and potentially reinforce historical racial inequality? Angèle Christin, author of the new book Metrics at Work: Journalism and the Contested Meaning of Algorithms and Joseph Torres, author of the classic News For All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media (co-authored with Juan González) analyze racial divisions in media-making and its interplay with data-centric technology. This conversation is hosted by Data & Society Founder and President danah boyd.

Buy the Books


Media Metrics

Newsroom Bias, History, and Representation


About the Speakers

Joseph Torres, Free Press’ Senior Director of Strategy and Engagement, advocates in Washington to ensure that our nation’s media policies serve the public interest, and builds coalitions to broaden the movement’s base. Joseph writes frequently on media and internet issues and is the co-author of The New York Times bestseller News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media. He is the 2015 recipient of the Everett C. Parker Award, which recognizes an individual whose work embodies the principles and values of the public interest. Before joining Free Press, Joseph worked as deputy director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and was a journalist for several years.

Angèle Christin is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University. She studies how algorithms and analytics transform professional values, expertise, and work practices. Her book, Metrics at Work: Journalism and the Contested Meaning of Algorithms (Princeton University Press, 2020) focuses on the case of web journalism, analyzing the growing importance of audience data in web newsrooms in the U.S. and France. Drawing on ethnographic methods, Angèle shows how American and French journalists make sense of traffic numbers in different ways, which in turn has distinct effects on the production of news in the two countries. Angèle is currently a Visiting Researcher with the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England. She is an affiliate at Data & Society Research Institute.

danah boyd is the founder and president of Data & Society and a partner researcher at Microsoft Research. Her research is focused on making certain that society has a nuanced understanding of the relationship between technology and society, especially as issues of inequity and bias emerge. She is the author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, and has authored or co-authored numerous books, articles, and essays. She is a trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, a director of the Social Science Research Council, and a director of Crisis Text Line. She has been recognized by numerous organizations, including receiving the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer/Barlow Award and being selected as a 2011 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. Originally trained in computer science before retraining under anthropologists, danah has a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information.

About Databites

Data & Society’s “Databites” speaker series presents timely conversations about the purpose and power of technology, bridging our interdisciplinary research with broader public conversations about the societal implications of data and automation.