Daniel Kreiss

Edgar Thomas Cato Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Affiliate Fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School

About Daniel

Kreiss’s research explores how changes in media and technology shape political communication, defined broadly to encompass the institutional (campaigns, legislative bodies, the presidency, the press, civil society organizations) and extra-institutional (movements) actors, events, and processes that constitute democratic life. In the course of his research, he has asked and answered questions such as: how do changes in media technologies affect political campaigning and civic participation? What does the lowered cost of speaking to mass audiences and organizing political action mean for the relative power of political elites, professional journalists, social movements, and citizens? How have movements and non-elites built and used technologies to amplify their voices in the public sphere and the halls of government? And, what implications do media and technological change have for the practice, and promise, of democracy? Kreiss primarily uses qualitative fieldwork methods to contribute to an interdisciplinary body of scholarship in political communication, journalism studies, science and technology studies, and cultural sociology. In the course of the last two decades, Kreiss has been involved in a number of non-partisan civic efforts. He is currently a member of the Scholars for North Carolina’s Future, which engages scholars in public dialogue around contemporary issues in North Carolina. Previously, he served as the senior director of programs and development for VoterWatch, a governmental transparency initiative. Before embarking on an academic career, he was the director of major gifts for The After School Corporation, the founding director of an after-school program in Brooklyn, NY, an electoral organizer and development director of Citizen Action of New York and the Public Policy and Education Fund, and senior manager of foundation giving for the nonprofit volunteer organization New York Cares.


In the News

Opinion: "Americans Are Too Worried About Political Misinformation," Daniel Kreiss (with Shannon C. McGregor), Slate, October 30, 2020.
Quoted by Isaac Stanley-Becker in "Democratic Groups to Spend Millions Hitting Trump over Coronavirus Response," The Washington Post, March 17, 2020.
Quoted by Isaac Stanley-Becker in "Facebook's Ad Tools Subsidize Partisanship, Research Shows. And Campaigns May Not Even Know It," The Washington Post, December 11, 2019.
Quoted by Isaac Stanley-Becker in "Facebook’s Ad Tools Subsidize Partisanship, Research Shows. And Campaigns May Not Even Know It.," The Washington Post, December 10, 2019.
Quoted by Natasha Singer in "‘Weaponized Ad Technology’: Facebook’s Moneymaker Gets a Critical Eye," The New York Times, August 16, 2018.
Opinion: "2016: The Proving Ground for Political Data," Daniel Kreiss, The Conversation, June 21, 2016.
Quoted by Derek Willis in "Why Democrats Still Lead Republicans in Online Fund-Raising," New York Times, January 22, 2015.
Quoted by Meghan Neal in "The Worst Glassholes Yet Will be Politicians Vying for Your Vote," Vice Motherboard, March 18, 2014.
Quoted by Don Gonyea in "Google Glass: Coming Soon to a Campaign Trail Near You," NPR’s Morning Edition, March 17, 2014.
Research discussed by George Packer, in "Change the World: Silicon Valley Transfers Its Slogans – and Its Money – to the Realm of Politics," The New Yorker, May 27, 2013.
Quoted by Heather Haddon in "Christie Rival Taps Obama Political Tactic," Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2013.
Quoted by Lois Beckett in "Everything We Know (So Far) about Obama’s Big Data Tactics," ProPublica, November 13, 2012.
Quoted by Sarah Lie Stirland in "With the Help of Digital Infrastructure, Obama Wins Re-Election," TechPresident, November 6, 2012.
Research discussed by Tarun Wadhwa, in "Coke or Pepsi? Politicians Say Choices Like These Reveal How You Vote," Forbes, November 5, 2012.
Guest on PBS’s Frontline, October 22, 2012.
Research discussed by Tom Watson, in "Occupy Wall Street’s Year: Three Outcomes for the History Books," Forbes, October 17, 2012.
Quoted by Josh Shaffer in "Hashtag Politics: Tweets Pump Up Volume on Debate," Raleigh News and Observer, October 15, 2012.
Quoted by Halimah Abdullah in "Dems Get Boost as Both Parties Seek to Leverage Conventions," CNN Politics, September 11, 2012.
Quoted by Christina Chang in "Oh, Those Politicians Have So Many Ways of Getting Our Attention," Las Vegas Sun, August 4, 2012.
Guest on WBUR’s On Point, July 30, 2012.
Quoted by Stephanie Carroll Carson in "Marriage Amendment Opposition Called One of NC’s Largest Grassroots Efforts," Public News Service, May 7, 2012.
Interviewed in "In a Social Campaign, What Role for the Press?," Columbia Journalism Review, April 23, 2012.
Quoted by Tanzina Vega in "Online Data Helping Campaigns Customize Ads," New York Times, February 20, 2012.
Opinion: "Yes We Can (Profile You): A Brief Primer on Campaigns and Political Data," Daniel Kreiss, Huffington Post Politics, February 6, 2012.
Quoted by in "Political Data Miners Really Get to Know You," Voice of America, November 6, 2011.
Quoted by Tim Murphy in "Harper Reed's Machine Can't Read Your Mind – Yet," Mother Jones, September/October 2012.


"The Virtues of Participation without Power: Campaigns, Party Networks, and the Ends of Politics" Sociological Quarterly (online-first article, 2014).
Analyzes and makes a normative case for institutional and partisan forms of participation without decision-making, draws on field research and interviews conducted over the last decade on Democratic Party campaigns to argue against contemporary denunciations of partisanship and critiques of institutional participation by radical democrats and reveal how electoral participation is tightly linked to larger partisan dynamics and institutional sites of power.
"Political Performance, Boundary Spaces, and Active Spectatorship: Media Production at the 2012 Democratic National Convention" (with Laura Meadows and John Remensperger). Journalism: Theory, Practice, & Criticism (online-first article, 2014).
Provides a framework for understanding conventions as contemporary media events that provide both mediated, integrative spaces for the polity and occasions for networked practices of ‘active spectatorship’ that offer citizens a means of control over the publicity of elites.
"Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama" (Oxford University Press, 2012).
Maps changes in electoral campaigning over the last decade with the widespread uptake of new and social media in political and social life. The book demonstrates that while new media technologies have not radically transformed electoral institutions, democratic accountability, or political representation, citizens have unprecedented opportunities to participate in the electoral process.
"Acting in the Public Sphere: The 2008 Obama Campaign’s Strategic Use of New Media to Shape Narratives of the Presidential Race" Research in Social Movements, Conflict, and Change 33 (2012): 195-223.
Analyzes how campaigns, movements, new media outlets, and professional journalism organizations interact to produce political discourse in an information environment characterized by new actors and increasingly fragmented audiences. The paper argues that campaigns and movements have extended established and developed new communication tactics to pursue their goals in a networked information environment, and shows how much of what scholars assume to be the communicative content of amateurs is often the result of coordination among organized, and often hybrid, political actors.
"New Challenges to Political Privacy: Lessons from the First U.S. Presidential Race in the Web 2.0 Era" (with Philip N. Howard). International Journal of Communication 4 (2011): 1032-1050.
Provides an overview of the data practices of political campaigns over the last decade and takes a particularly close look at many of the new tools used by the Obama campaign. As a call for further research, this paper outlines a set of potential normative concerns about this use of data, suggesting that the data practices of campaigns and other political organizations may undermine important democratic norms from the erosion of privacy and narrowing of political debate by using data on citizens and social networks to the tailoring messages and communicating with narrowly-defined segments of voters.
"A New Contract for the Press: Copyright, Public Domain Journalism, and Self-Governance in a Digital Age" (with Mike Ananny). Critical Studies in Media Communication 28 (2011): 314-333.
Argues that the current literature that focuses on how digital technologies are creating unprecedented opportunity for democratic expression have focused too narrowly on the threat of overly broad intellectual property rights. This paper argues that more attention needs to be paid to whether expression in the public sphere is inclusive, diverse, and of sufficient quality to meet the needs of democratic publics, and think about how to institutionally secure these qualities.