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Research Projects, from 2011

The Institute for the study of New Media, Politics and Society

School of Communication, Ariel University


Studies in Public Discourse and Deliberation

01 | Student Conference 2012
Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University, and Dr. Idit Mansevitch, Netanya Academic College

The project utilizes and examines the model of deliberative poll, which is supposed to create a more opinionated and reflexive public opinion. The project concluded in a conference that took place on April 30th, 2012, with the participation of 150 students. The topic of the conference was the amendment to the anti-libel law. The conference was organized by a group of students that participated in an annual seminar on democracy and deliberation.

The event opened with a panel in which journalists and academics discussed arguments for and against the new amendment. Afterwards, the students were divided into discussion groups. Once the students finished their discussions, they were brought back together to summarize the various arguments for and against the amendment and to vote.

Products: the entire project, and the event itself, was documented by students of the university, for a film which is in the final editing stage. The film will broadcast in one the major Israeli television channels, and will also be uploaded to YouTube. Also, questionnaires were distributed to the participants and moderators before and after the event. A research paper based on the results and will be published in an academic journal.

During the preparations of the event, an instructor booklet was written for coordinators of deliberative events (under the direction of Dr. Monsovitch). The booklet was used to prepare the coordinators of this event and will be used for future events as well.

02 | "Let's Talk About It" – A Deliberative Radio Program
Tal Laor, Ariel University

A deliberative cross-platform radio program, which adjusts the deliberative poll model to the radio. The program focuses on topics that are up to debate in the public sphere. The program is based on a deliberative panel of six participants interacting with listeners, viewers, surfers, and with focus groups of approximately fifty students.

The project was organized in cooperation with Kol Israel, and was produced twice during the months of April and May 2013 and broadcasted on Reshet Bet’s “Sh’at Chevra” (social hour) with Dr. Micky Miro.

03 | Encouraging Deliberative Conversations Online using Cognitive Cues
Dr. Idit Mansevitch, Netanya Academic College, Dr. Azi Lev-On and Nili Steinfled, Ariel University

A study based on a lab experiment that analyzed how cognitive cues that are embedded in an online forum influence the character of conversation, and whether they encourage more deliberative discussion. For this purpose, three discussion forums were set up online. The forums were identical, except for a cognitive cue which was designed as a banner on the side of the screen. The forums were designed to resemble a governmental website that aims at encouraging participation and connecting citizens with government. 60 students were divided into three groups, logged into one of the discussion groups and addressed the question of whether Israel should be involved in a military operation against Iran. The findings point to a strong and significant correlation between the presence of cues that facilitate deliberation, and the deliberative character of the discourse that evolved.

Products: An article about the study is under review. The study was presented in the 63rd annual conference of the International Communication Association (London, June 2013). Earlier versions of the study were presented in the 23rd World Congress of Political Science (Madrid, July 2011), as a work in progress during the 16th annual conference of the Israeli Communication Association (2012), and as a poster during the 17th annual conference of the Israeli Communication Association (2013).

04 | Local Online Discussion: The Case of Revava
Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

A study with and the support of the Regional Research Center (RRC). As a part of the research, a community discussion will take place in the online forum of Revava in June 2013 led by students of the School of Communication, during which the residents will discuss the development plans of the community and the ways the community resources would be used. The project tests a model of public engagement in decision-making at the local level.

Communication and Politics at the Municipal Level

05 | The Local Press in Israel
Dr. Idit Monsovitch, Netanya Academic College and Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The study is meant to fill a void in the study of the Israeli media by mapping the local newspapers in Israel-- online and in print. The study is based on data received from IFAT and data collected by the researchers about the local press in Russian and Arabic.

Products: The study was presented in the conference “Passages in the Media” (Ben-Gurion University, April 2013). An article based on the study will be included in an edited volume composed of papers presented in the conference.

06 | Protest Coverage in the Local Press in Israel
Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The study analyzes how the summer protests of 2011 were covered and framed in the local press in Israel. Some 700 stories, which were published in the various local newspapers at the beginning and the end of the protests, were coded and analyzed. The data for this study was also received from IFAT.

07 | Municipalities Online
Dr. Azi Lev-On and Nili Steinfeld, Ariel University

The study is based on content analysis of Facebook pages of municipalities in Israel using dedicated software that has access to Facebook’s API. The study analyzes the scope and character of public involvement in the municipal Facebook pages, patterns of responsiveness of municipalities to citizens’ requests, and differences in Facebook usage by various municipalities and in different periods of the calendar year.

Products: A paper based on the study will be included in an edited volume about municipal administration in Israel. Another article was submitted to a journal. The study was presented in the International Conference on Social Science (Bangkok, January 2013), and also in the annual conference of municipal computing, the annual conference of the Israeli Association for Public Relations Practitioners, and in an event of the Ministry of Public Diplomacy.

Digital Divides

08 | Digital Divide: Studies Based on CBS Data (2010-2011)
Dr. Sabina Lissitsa and Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

A research based on data collected through the social survey of the CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics) in 2010-2011 that studies differences in access to and usage of the Internet between different populations and sectors and between center and periphery.

Products: Two papers based on the study are under review. The study was presented in the 44th annual conference of the Israeli Sociological Association (February 2013) and also in an international conference in Yekaterinburg, Russia (October 2012).

09 | Digital Divide: Studies Based on Self-Administered Representative Polls
Dr. Sabina Lissitsa and Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The studies analyze the mutual correlations between perceived social distance and the existence of interactions between people from different groups of the Israeli population: Jews and Arabs, as well as veterans and new immigrants. The studies are based on two opinion polls of a representative sample of the Israeli population which included 440 veteran Israelis and 378 immigrants from the former USSR. The surveys were conducted with the assistance of students from the School of Communication during a course on Digital Gaps, in which they were asked to assist in disseminating the questionnaires to different groups of the Israeli population in a manner that represents the entire Israeli population.

Products: Two papers based on the studies are under review. The study about Jews and Arabs was presented in the winter conference of Eshnav and Google Israel (February 2013).

10 | Digital Divide: A Study Based on Interviews
Dr. Sabina Lissitsa and Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

A qualitative study based on interviews which examine perceptions about the Internet and online usage among Ultra-Orthodox, religious and secular Jewish Internet users. The rounds of interviews started in mid-2012 and are in the final stages.

11 | Digital Divide: Digital Gaps between Immigrants and Veterans, Based on CBS Data from 2008-2009
Dr. Sabina Lissitsa and Dr. Svetlana Chachashvili-Bulltein, Rupin Academic Center

The study analyzed inequalities in access to and usage of the Internet among newcomers and veterans in the Israeli society.

Products: The study was published in “Media Frames”, and was presented in the 43rd annual conference of the Israeli Sociological Association (February 2012), and in the 16th annual conference of the Israeli Communication Association (April 2012).

12 | Digital Divide: Ethnic Gaps, Based on CBS Data from 2008-2009
Dr. Sabina Lissitsa and Dr. Svetlana Chachashvili-Bulltein, Rupin Academic Center

The study took looks at the possibilities of utilizing the Internet to close ethnic-based economic gaps.

Annual Media Reports

13 | Media Report 2011
Dr. Raffi Mann and Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The report (55 pages) was produced in cooperation with IFAT and Kantar Media. The report surveyed the institutions, agendas and audience exposure patterns of the Israeli media during 2011. This is the first of a series of reports that are supposed to be published each year in order to assemble data and function as a reference for communication practitioners and scholars.

Products: The report was distributed online, and also 5000 printed copies were distributed according to the mailing list of IFAT to academic institutions, major organizations, media outlets and more.

14 | Media Report 2012
Dr. Raffi Mann and Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The second media report has a broader scope than the 2011 report (140 pages). The 2012 report includes information and analysis of agendas, uses of, and trends in the Israeli media during 2012. The report emphasizes sectarian media (the Ultra-Orthodox, Arabic and Russian media) and also includes chapters on Internet memes and on the regulation of Israeli media. In addition to the editors, chapters were contributed by Dr. Tehila Altschuler-Schwarz (Israel Democracy Institute), Dr. Tal Pavel (Netanya Academic College) and Prof. Yoel Cohen (Ariel University).

Projects in cooperation with Government Ministries

15 | Communities of Practice of the Israeli Ministry of Social Services: Characteristics, Uses and Impact
Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The study examines the communities of practice of the Ministry of Social Services, which function as environments of consultation and learning for employees and professionals. The communities deal with themes that the office handles such as violence in the family, mental retardation, adoption and more.

The study involves content analysis of all the content in the communities which were selected—more than 7,000 posts, as well as in-depth interviews with 70 people who use the communities – ranging between key users who make significant contributions to the communities, to passive participants. The goal of the study is to analyze different uses of the communities and the functions they fulfill for their members.

Products: The concluding report will be sent in summer 2013 to the Ministry of Social Services, and published online. Findings from the study have been presented in the graduate communication conference “Communicating” (“Metaksherim”, Haifa, December 2012), and in Info2013 – the 28th information conference and exhibition (Tel-Aviv, May 2013). Five or more studies based on the research will be sent for publication. The first paper, about relationship and trust, will be presented in IFIP eParticipation conference (Koblenz, Germany, September 2013) and will be included in an edited volume composed of papers presented in the conference. Additional papers are about passive participation (lurking), uses and gratification, perceived impact on work relations, and comparisons of the activities in various communities.

16 | The Impact of the Social Networks on Consumers and Consumption
Ofrit Kol and Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

A study in cooperation with the Ministry of Trade and Commerce. The goal of the study is to analyze the role of online interactions during consumers’ decision-making processes. The study asks how the wealth of existing online tools is used by consumers, and what is the impact of online platforms on consumption.

Products: The study is on its early stages. The concluding report will be sent in summer 2013 to the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, and published online.

Protest and Communication

17 | The Perceived Role of New Media in the Summer Protest in Israel, 2011
Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The study is based on interviews with some 30 people that were involved in the “tent protests” of the summer of 2011 in Israel. Researchers interviewed activists on the ground, online activists, and journalists from the local and national press to examine their views about the place, importance and functioning of new media during the orchestration of protests, as well as their initial and final stages. The data collection will be finalized in June 2013.

Products: Initial findings were presented in the conference “The Israeli Society after the Summer Protest of 2011” (Emek Izrael College, May 2012).

18 | Traditional or virtual? The Media Chosen by the Israeli Tent Protest Movement and its Relations to the Respondents' Level of Involvement and Activism
Prof. Amir Hetsroni and Hila Lowenstein, Ariel University

This study is based on a survey (N=142) conducted face to face with individuals at the Israeli social protest movement's Tel Aviv Rothschild Boulevard tent compound during the summer of 2011. The survey was used to determine the types of media which provided information to the protestors, and detect potential differences in the involvement and activism of protestors who chose traditional mass media and those who used online social networks. Findings demonstrate that despite the notion that this protest was conceived and developed in online social networks; the protestors' main sources of information were rather traditional. In addition, protestors (about a third of the surveyed group) who relied on online social networks were significantly more active in the protest movement, and were more supportive of its causes.
Products: The study was published in “Israeli Social Issues”.

19 | Rhetoric of Online Protest
Dr. Eitan Orkibi, Ariel University

The study analyzes online grassroots rhetoric, through content analysis of petitions on the large Israeli petition site “Atsuma”. The study uses an argumentative and stylistic analysis of non-edited texts, and is in preparation for publication.

Experiments

20 | How People Read Online News and User Comments: An Eye-Track Study
Dr Azi Lev-On and Nili Steinfeld, Ariel University, and Dr. Tal Samuel-Azran, Interdisciplinary Center Herzlia

The study examines the reading patterns of online news using advanced eye-tracking technology. The study involved 230 participants (students of the IDC) who read three stories which were selected from Ynet and edited. A device that records the eye-movements of subjects enables to examine how subjects read online stories, and how much of their time and focus were devoted to reading user comments compared to the main article.

21 |The Beauty and the Ballot: The Impact Candidate Photos on Touch Screens on Primary Vote
Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University, and Dr. Israel Weismel-Manor, University of Haifa

The study is based on two experiments which were conducted using touchscreens, through a dedicated application that was developed at Ariel University. In the first experiment, some 400 students from Ariel University and the University of Haifa were asked to select among unfamiliar candidates who arguably participated in primaries for the municipal council. The second experiment took place during the primaries to the national list of the Likkud party. Experimental posts were established in four places across Israel, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Lod, in which 501 Likkud members chose amongst the candidates that appeared on their screens. In each of the experiments, aesthetic manipulations of candidates’ faces were made, to study the impact of appearance on popularity.

Products: The study was presented at the annual conference of the Israeli Association of Political Science (Jerusalem, May 2013).

22 | Lab experiments- Communication and Trust
Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University, and Dr. Lea Borovoi

The study uses trust games, in which two subjects transfer amounts of money they receive from the experimenters. Such experiments enable to learn about the impact of communication on trust and reciprocity. The experiment analyzed if promises carried out through various media contribute to cooperation, and what happens when subjects make promises, but as a result of experimental interventions are eventually paired with subjects with whom they did not personally interact before. The study uses an online program developed by Dr. Borovoi. Data collection will end during the summer semester of 2013, with a few rounds of experiments including some 100-150 students.

23 | Privacy as a Commodity: Willingness to Sell Private Inforamtion in Second Life
Nili Steinfeld, Ariel University

The study examined the willingness of users of an anonymous online environment to allow access to their Facebook profile for varying amount of money, to examine the sensitivity of privacy-regarding behavior to monetary incentives. The experiment was conducted on Second Life, and included developing a Facebook application to authenticate users’ details.

Products: Results were presented in the conference “Communicating” (Metaksherim) for research students in communication (Haifa, December 2012). The study was also presented in the eighth graduate student political science conference that took place on December 2012 in Jerusalem, as well as in the ISPP (International Society of Political Psychology) in Lisbon, Portugal on March 2013. The study will also be presented in another conference in IDC Herzliya between on July 2013. An article based on the findings is in its final stages.

24 | How People Look at Advertisement: An Eye-Track Study
Efraim Linial, Ariel University

The study analyzes how subjects look at commercial advertisements that include graphical content, to learn if people are attract to, or are repelled from, such content. The study used a unique eye racking technology, supplemented by questionnaires. Data collection took place in April 2013.

25 | Do Users Read Privacy Statements and Application Access Statements?
Nili Steinfeld, Ariel University

The study is based on two experiments that analyze if and how users read privacy statements and cellular application access statements. The experiment uses an eye-tracking device. The first part of the experiment studies how long users read the privacy statement, if they read them even when they are not presented as a default, and if there are correlations between length and complexity of statements and the time dedicate to reviewing them. In the second part, reading patterns of access permission statements to cellular applications are studied. Data collection took place in April 2013.

26 | Conflict Resolution through Peacemaker Software
Dr. Ronit Kapmf, Tel-Aviv University

Peacemaker is a computerized simulation game in which participants play the role of the Israeli prime minister or president of the Palestinian Authority, and handle events using diplomatic, political, economic and military tools. The study is a part of an ongoing research about the impact of computerized simulation games about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on knowledge gain and position shift.

Convergence: Television, Radio, Internet, Cellular

27 | Television 2.0: Televised Content in the Network Era
Prof. Amir Hetsroni and Hila Lowenstein, Ariel University

The Study compares the content that people watch online (viewing duration, source of the program (local/foreign), genres and more), with the content watched in a traditional way. The goal of the study is to portray the “homos-televisius” in the second decade of the 21st century.

28 | TV Discourse in Social Networks
Hila Lowenstein, Ariel University

The study analyzes the conversations on television content in social networks, and the motives for publishing updates on social networks that are related to televised content. The study is based on content analysis of social network posts, as well as interviews with users.

29 | Documenting Viewing Patterns using a Cellular Application
Hila Lowenstein and Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The study tests the effectiveness of a cellular application as an alternative method for TV diaries, which are used by viewers to manually record video content viewing patterns. The study is based on a dedicated application developed specifically for this purpose. The first phase of the study examines the scope and character of the documentation of content viewing via the application, compared to other techniques.

30 | Cable Cutters
Hila Lowenstein, Ariel University

The age of new media jeopardizes the status of TV as the exclusive source for consuming video content. Furthermore, in recent years a growing new audience “cuts the cords”, i.e. replaces traditional television viewing with the consumption of content over the Internet. The purpose of this study is to characterize the “cable cutters” in Israel demographically and in terms of viewing preferences and motivations.

31 | “One Hand Holds the Weapon, the other Holds the Cell Phone”: Cellular Phone usage during the Second Lebanon War
Hananel Rosenberg, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Through interviews and investigative reports analysis, the study examines the function of cellular phone by soldiers on the battlefield during the second Lebanon war. The study focuses on the place of the cellular phone in the contact with home, and its effects on contact with the senior ranks.

32 | The Cellular Phone and the Military Basic Training
Hananel Rosenberg, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The army as a “total organization” aims to achieve maximum control over the flow of communication between the organization and the society surrounding it. This is especially intensive during the period of military basic training, in which the soldier is cut off from civil society, for the sake of military socialization.
The study examines the way in which the army perceives the inherent threat of the mobile phones, and the coping strategies it uses when trying to “tame” it. The study is based on interviews with soldiers, junior and senior commanders in basic training camps.

33 | What Missing the Cellular Means
Hananel Rosenberg, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

In an era of growing “cellular addiction”, the study investigates the Israelis who choose not to carry a cell phone on a daily basis, and even not to own a device. The focus is not on people who avoid the cellular from fears of the technology or for reasons of health, but on people who use psychological, social and ideological arguments for avoiding the cell phone. Through the objections to the cellular we would reveal additional meanings for the functioning of the device which became transparent in our daily lives, and understand what are the dimensions of the change that it generates in the public and private spheres, at least in the eyes of those who choose to avoid it.

34 | How the Radio Adjusts to the New Media Environment
Tal Laor, Ariel University

With the growing convergence between the radio and the new media environments, the radio stations cannot “get away” with establishing websites, but need to be present on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, develop cellular applications and more. The study examines how the “traditional” radio stations in Israel accommodate to the new media environment, and whether there are differences in the various tools used by different stations that broadcast different content that appeal to different audiences. The findings will shed some light on the future directions of development of the radio.

Products: First results from the study were presented in the conference about radio and new media (Ariel University, May 2013)

Online Strategic Communication

35 | Public Relations in the Age of Digital Media
Dr. Tamar Lahav, Ariel University

The study examined the changes that the Internet produces in the realm of public relation practice in Israel, examining its impact on working procedures and tactics, contact with clients and journalists, costs and more. The study was based on interviews with public relations professionals, and analysis of the presence of public relations firms on the Internet. The List of companies dealing with public relations was received from IFAT.

Products: An article describing the findings of the study is currently being finalized. The study was presented at the 17th Annual Conference of Israeli Communication Association (Bar-Ilan University, March 2013).

36 | The Uses of Digital Content Marketing in Israel
Dr. Lahav Tamar and Dorit Zimand-Sheiner, Ariel University

During the past decade, marketers have increasingly produced online content for their consumers. Homepages, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are some of the tools that provide entertaining, informative and educational contents that generate involvement. The marketer's goal is to be present in these channels with relevant content, whenever and wherever the consumer requires.

The study follows the production of marketers' content in a range of categories, and poses the following questions: What tools and channels do marketers utilize? What types of content do they use? How frequently is the content updated? Is a link created between marketers' digital activity and their non-digital activities? The study is based on semi-structured interviews with marketers, and on content analysis of marketers' activities in digital media.

37 | The Blogger as a Journalist: Changes in Integrated Marketing Communication due to the Advancement of Bloggers
Dr. Tamar Lahav and Dr. Osnat Roth-Cohen, Ariel University

The blogosphere has become a legitimate platform for public relations efforts. A handful of blogs gain a lot of popularity and are perceived as an alternative to the traditional media. The study explores the bloggers’ role as a new channel of public relations, by examining the shifting of marketing communication budgets from traditional media to the blogosphere; detecting the bloggers’ characteristics and patterns of action; and studying the attitudes of traditional media journalists towards the bloggers' double function as a new journalist and as a source of information. The study uses qualitative content analysis of leading blogs, and semi-structured interviews with bloggers, journalists and public relations practitioners.

38 | Comparative Analysis of Creative Aspects in Advertising in New Media Versus Traditional Media
Dr. Roth-Cohen Osnat and Dorit Zimand-Sheiner, Ariel University

"Creativity is the display window of the advertising world". The creative team in an advertising agency which develops ads and commercials use an array of tools, approaches, and methods as part of the creative work process. A lot of attention is focused on the concept of creativity because of the challenge of translating a strategic message to a creative idea. The core question of this study is whether there is any change in the message appeals used in advertising in traditional media versus new media. The study is based on qualitative content analysis and comparison of advertising campaigns for commercial brands appearing in both traditional and new media.

Political Communication

39 | Parliamentary Assistants in the New Media
Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University, and Chen Ben-Porath, Bar-Ilan Univeriy

The study examines the character and scope of the involvement of “intermediaries”, i.e. parliamentary assistants, consultants and spokespersons, in the presence of MPs in Facebook. The study is based on interviews with about 25 parliamentary assistants and consultants, selected according to the scope of their MP’s activity on Facebook and his/her political affiliation.

40 | The Best Friends: Politicians in Social Networks
Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The study asks if social networks function as agents of personalization of representatives, analyzes the activity of politicians in Facebook, including the degree of involvement of the audience (engagement), the existence of link to the party's site, and the correlation between level of involvement in Facebook and the expected existence of primaries.

41 | Internet Usage in Municipal Campaigns: A Longitudinal Study

Dr. Azi Lev-On, Ariel University

The study is a part of a five-year research process, which examines the online campaign activities of contenders for municipal office. Other than mapping the Websites and Facebook pages of contenders, the study analyzes possible correlations between the existence of online presence and the scope of public engagement – and structural features of the races (such as size of voting population, incumbency, competitiveness of the race and region) and socio-demographic character of the constituency. The study is based on a number of research methods including website analysis, analysis of Facebook activities and interviews with candidates.

42 | “In Slippers”- Blog and Personal Websites of Public Figures
Dr. Eitan Orkibi, Ariel University

The study focuses on the various uses of blogs and personal websites of public figures, especially politicians, as a means to build reputation, maintain and improve it. In an era of publicity and celebrity, the personal dimension becomes inseparable part of political marketing. The study focuses on the Web as a platform to display the “less formal self”: family, hobbies, cultural preferences, anecdotes and musings that complete the official and professional iamge of the politician.

Additional Studies

43 | The Appearance of Experts in the Media
Dr. Amir Hetsroni, Ariel University

The study portrays the experts who appear on television, the printed press and online news sites. The research questions are: what is the profile of the typical expert, and to what extent the profile of experts is a function of media and content area.

Products: An article describing the findings of the study will be published in the journal Sex Roles towards the end of 2013. The study will be presented at the conference of the Popular Culture Association (Warsaw, July 2013) and was covered by the Israeli press (Ma'ariv, the voice of Israel, the voice of peace and radio non-stop).

44 | Eating Disorders Online – Comparing Professional and User-Generated Sites
Nili Steinfeld, Ariel University

The study compares eating disorders professional websites, and sites that are based on user-generated content. Advanced digital research tools are used to map the relationships between the sites, and analyze the discourse in the various locations.

Products: Initial findings were presented in the Nutrition Israel 2013 scientific exhibit and conference (Tel Aviv, January 2013).

45 | Why do Sports Fans Refuse Delayed Viewing of Sports Events?
Dr. Ilan Tamir, Ariel University

Technological developments in recent years offer a variety of options for delayed viewing of televised content. The current study looks at sports fans’ refusal to delay gratification and insist to watch sport broadcasts only live. Through in-depth interviews with sports fans, religious-like practices have been identified, practices that route sports fans towards massive recruitment to watch events simultaneously with other community members. Sports activities, that are perceived as central agents for promoting media technologies (such as HD televisions), also become conservative institutions where technology threatens the cohesion of the community.