Date: Monday 17-Tuesday 18 November 2014
Venue: University of Salford, MediacityUK, Salford, Manchester.
The theme of the Challenging Media Landscapes conference is Exploring Media Choice and Freedom. It is hosted and organized by the University of Salford at MediacityUK and is part of the five day 2014 International Media Festival, Salford.
The aim of the 2014 Challenging Media Landscapes conference is to undertake an exploration of a range of the main conceptual and practice based issues which have framed the academic analysis of ideas, practical expressions and critiques of freedom and choice in media environments over the course of at least the last decade.
Papers may have as their focus empirical cases, conceptual and theoretical contributions, or both. They may also report on practice based research across the range of media scholarship. Research which is of an exploratory and interdisciplinary orientation is welcome. Broadly speaking, papers are invited which address the range of actors, institutions, structures, instruments and processes in media environments that affect and challenge in some significant way our understanding of media freedom and choice.
Below is a set of five core themes, to be interpreted flexibly, around which contributions might be centred, though ideas for papers which do not sit in or across one or more of these areas, but which address the core aim of the conference, are also welcomed.
Theme One: Freedom, Choice and Privacy in Media Environments
Debates about privacy in media environments, particularly the online world, burn as strongly as they ever have. Some even contend that we are already in a post-privacy age, with the envelopment of professional and personal interactions and relations through social media and the melding of the two spheres, manifest, for example, in forms of immaterial labour. Concerns are expressed about surveillance, the treatment of protest by the State, and abandonment of respect for privacy by commercial organisations. Yet, high profile dissenting organisations and analysts, such as Wikileaks, IndyMedia and The Invisible Committee, for example – provide evidence of a more complex, contested environment. Wikileaks’s maxim “privacy for individuals and transparency for institutions” is suggestive of a new paradigm of what must be private, and what will be public. This theme calls for papers which explore the contemporary nature of privacy. What imperatives arise from its protection and what challenges arise in trying to secure it?
Theme Two: Policy Choices and Freedom in Changing Media Environments
The Internet is eroding the boundaries between the press, broadcasting and new, on-demand media services. The re-articulation of traditional Public Service Broadcasting as Public Service Media has now arguably been well-established. The rise of social media has created a set of new online communications environments where the associated commercial and governance protocols are still very much in their infancy and thus contested. What are the different ways of considering freedom and choice in this evolving era of media convergence? What are the key challenges that are developing in converging communications environments in terms of broadening and maintaining choice and what are the implications of this? How has this been manifest in the consideration of issues such as market regulation and the prescription of base line public service? This theme of the conference calls for papers which evoke new thinking in areas such as: new media market environments; possible subsidisation of media content, copyright regulation, ‘net neutrality’, and the possible regulation of social media.
Theme Three: The Growth of Big Data and Media Freedom
Debates about freedom, choice and control have been heightened by exponential growth in the range and amount of digitally collected and stored information. This has led to claims that the application of so called “Big Data” offers unparalleled opportunities to: understand social problems; track changes in public behaviour; and to develop more precise, incisive and nuanced policy responses to the needs of people as citizens, audience members, readers and consumers. More fundamentally, Big Data has been seen as challenging what we know and how we know it. However, superficial and deterministic assumptions that Big Data can automaticially produce solutions to a range of social problems ignore key questions around the interests which gather and have access to such data; exercise control over data flows; and undertake action to analyse and interpret such data. These concerns are already important sites of analysis and contestation in academic, governmental and media circles and this theme calls for contributions which will take forward the important debates this activity has generated.
Theme 4: Journalism, Media Freedom and Democracy
The principle of journalistic freedom centres on ideas about democracy, the Fourth Estate and the public sphere. However, the Leveson Inquiry (2012) in the UK was a potent reminder both of the limits of those freedoms and of their capacity to be abused. Globally, journalists are struggling to establish and maintain their freedom in fledgling democracies, such as the post-Arab Spring countries. The emergence of participatory (or ‘citizen’) journalism represents another important development, including a challenge to the professional status and values of journalists and to their ability to foster and regain public trust. Some argue that we are witnessing a democratisation of media through growing interactivity in journalism and apparently decentralised social media. This theme focuses on the range of possible responses to ideas about freedom in journalism in a variety of contexts in the twenty-first century. It welcomes both specific case studies of the notion of freedom in journalism and new attempts to theorise and explain critically the evolving and often elusive nature this idea.
Theme 5: Articulations of, and Barriers to, Creativity, Freedom and Choice in Media Practices
Media practice has long been a core manifestation of creativity, and the exercising of freedom and choice in the pursuit of excellence. However, media technologies and practices, individual and collective, commercial and non-commercial, are constantly changing. This theme calls for contributions which explore key changes in media practice from the perspective of creativity, freedom and choice. Papers and other contributions (such as audiovisual materials) may train their focus on the gamut of media practice from screenwriting to distribution and exhibition, from performance practices to cinematographic practices, from directing to sound design, from animation to games designs. Papers which explore multi-disciplinary and converged media practices, creative forms and business models are particular welcome.
Submission of Abstracts
Abstracts of no more than 400 words should be submitted in Word document format by 9 June 2014 to:
Your abstract should address one of the above themes (please indicate which) and have a separate cover sheet providing your name(s), institutional affiliation(s) and e-mail address(es). You will be notified of acceptance by 15 July, 2014. Full papers are due no later than 1 November, 2013.
It is the intention of the organisers to put together an edited volume of the conference contributions.
Details on booking registration and accommodation options will follow on acceptance of your proposal.
For further enquiries, contact the conference director:
Professor of Media Policy,
Director of the Communication, Cultural and Media Studies Research Centre,
University of Salford,