Andrew Fitzgerald

Andrew Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s work is situated at the intersection of critical political economy of communication, critical audience studies, and media ethics. His dissertation explores the impacts of datafication and social media platforms on the circulation and public reception of mediatized terrorism, and the transnational construction of violence, political discourses, and social action. 

His dissertation, Mediatizing Terrorism: A Study of the Construction of Violence and Events Under Datafied Capitalism, studies the circulation of transnational mobile media accounts of terror attacks in order to examine the intersection of violence, liberalism, and authoritarianism as it is transformed in the data-driven political economy of communication. The dissertation’s central question asks: how is mediatized terrorism encountered, made sense of, and responded to by audiences in datafied media systems? To answer, he uses a new digital method to observe U.S. mobile media users’ responses to a wave of ISIS terror attacks in Europe in the spring of 2017. These responses were captured unobtrusively through a data collection framework called screenomics that affords examination of transnationally mediated accounts of terrorist attacks viewed on users’ mobile devices. The dissertation examines in fine detail how audiences truly use their mobile devices, platforms, and how they respond to attacks as they unfold. Based on this observation Fitzgerald identifies four mediatized rituals in response to terrorist attacks as they occur: one, a contingent of responses to terrorism in far-right ecosystems, assimilates attacks and unrelated social conflict into an imagined future of what liberal multiculturalism portends, creating the possibility for offline action stoking and reinforcing cycles of violence; three other rituals comprise a limited suite of individualized responses to distant crises that are habituated by the data-driven political economy.  

Andy’s academic research has been published in Communication Theory, Journal of Media Ethics, Journal of Communication Inquiry, and Human-Computer Interaction, and presented at conferences including the International Communication Association (4S), Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), and the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR). Four of his papers have received student paper awards from the Philosophy, Theory & Critique division of ICA (PTC) in 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2021. His paper, “The Eclipse of Ideology: Nonconscious Cognition, Neurodiversity, and Datafied Media Systems as Tools for ‘Self-Regulation,’” was awarded Top Student Paper from PTC in 2020. He was also elected and served as the Student and Early Career Representative for PTC from 2019-2021. Andy’s op-eds and popular essays have appeared in The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, and Al Jazeera America among other outlets. 

Website link: 

Academic Background

  • B.A. in Politics, Bates College

Focus Area

Journalism, Media and Culture, Advisor: Jay Hamilton and Ted Glasser