ICE blogs

March 24, 2013

Citizen media focus for colloquium

A two-day colloquium on citizen media is to be held 13-14 June 2013 in the Manchester Conference Centre. It is being organised by the Division of Languages and Intercultural Studies, at the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester.

The rapid shift from a mass media to a digital media culture in the past couple of decades has been the subject of considerable research. One important facet of this shift has been the process of media convergence and the concomitant blurring of boundaries between production and consumption practices in a wide range of contexts, including citizen journalism (news reporting, community radio and television, documentary filmmaking), individual or participatory co-creational work (self-broadcasting, crowdsourcing, fansubbing, scanlation, gaming), networked platforms of public deliberation (blogging, wikis) and other performative expressions of publicness (graffiti and citizen photography). Focusing on the involvement of citizens in this emergent digital culture, this two-day colloquium aims to bring together researchers and citizen media practitioners from different disciplinary and professional backgrounds with a view to sharing experiences and debating a number of recurrent themes in the field. These include:

• interrogating the ‘citizen’ in ‘citizen media’: what senses of ‘citizenship’ are activated in citizen media practices, and with what implications;
• the dialectic between citizen media and new technologies: empowering synergy or regulative tension;
• strategic vs therapeutic forms of self-mediation: activism, hacktivism, alter-globalism, altruistic humanitarianism and narcisstic exhibitionism;
• citizen media and protest movements;
• the ethics of witnessing and solidarity;
• playful forms of self-mediation (parody, satire);
• the threat of co-optation: containing the subversive within existing structures of political and corporate power;
• citizen media and the discursive constitution of public selves;
• citizen media and the construction of communities;
• citizen media and ‘the democratic deficit’;
• citizen media practices and piracy.

The programme is designed to ensure maximum participation by all attendees, and to allow sufficient time for discussion and exchange of views. There will be no parallel panels, and presentation slots are, therefore, limited. Plenary speakers are:

• Stuart Allan, Professor of Journalism and Director of the Centre for Journalism and Communication Research at Bournemouth University, UK. He has published widely on the emergence and development of news on the Internet, the online reporting of war, conflict and crisis, science journalism, and citizen journalism. His most recent book, Citizen Witnessing: Revisioning Journalism in Times of Crisis, was published by Polity in January 2013.

• Bolette Blaagaard, Assistant Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark and former Research Fellow at City University, London, where she was involved in setting up an international network to debate issues of citizenship and journalism, as well as carrying out research on citizen journalism and its implications for journalistic practices and education. She is co-editor of After Cosmopolitanism (Routlege 2012) and Deconstructing Europe (Routledge 2011).

• Simon Lindgren, Professor of Sociology at Umeå University, Sweden. He researches digital culture with a focus on social connections, social organization and social movements. He is actively taking part in developing theoretical as well as methodological tools for analysing discursive and social network aspects of the evolving new media landscape. His publications cover themes like hacktivism, digital piracy, citizen journalism, subcultural creativity and learning, popular culture and visual politics. Simon is the author of New Noise: A Cultural Sociology of Digital Disruption (2013).

• Ivan Sigal, Executive Director and co-founder of Global Voices, a community of more than 700 authors and 600 translators around the world who collect and make available reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media. He is author of White Road (Steidl Verlag 2012) and has extensive experience in supporting and training journalists and working on media co-productions in the Soviet Union and Asia.

If you are interested in presenting a paper, please send an abstract of 300 words by 15 April 2013 to Mona Baker (mona.baker@manchester.ac.uk) or Luis Pérez-González (Luis.Perez-Gonzalez@manchester.ac.uk). Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 25 April 2013.

Registration fees (to include lunch and refreshments on 13 and 14 June): Full registration: £50. Student registration: £30.

• See http://citizenmediacolloquium.wordpress.com

March 20, 2013

Let’s move on from brutish journalism

Mike Jempson, honorary director of the ethics campaigning body, MediaWise, responds to the recently announced plans to regulate the mainstream press through the introduction of a Royal Charter

If the press think they have been dealt a bad hand by the Royal Charter, they have only their own to blame. Those who broke the law, or trampled on the rights of others with little regard for the consequences, have ruined it for everyone else.

Editors and proprietors who rushed to the defence of the Press Complaints Commission whenever it was criticised are as culpable as the politicians who preferred to bury their heads in the sand or court the media moguls as evidence mounted over the years that some sections of the press were up to no good.

But the solution to the alleged woes of Britain’s newspapers is also – as ever – in their own hands. It is the publishing industry that has been left with the task setting up its own system of self-regulation. In so far as the Royal Charter and the amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill are concerned, it is easy for the press to avoid huge fines for bad behaviour.

First of all they need to set up their own self-regulatory bodies – and they have been stressing they are happy to do that from the first day that Lord Justice Leveson opened for business. There is nothing to stop them having one for national papers, another for locals and one for magazines, or even one per publishing company. It is entirely up to them.

Leading representatives of the press, including Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, have also agreed that the new system should be manifestly ‘independent’ in a way that the PCC manifestly was not. That, and a system of appointment that it is open and transparent, is all that the Royal Charter seeks to ensure. The Recognition Body that will be set up under the Charter cannot tell the editors and proprietors what to do. It merely checks that the regulatory bodies they set up it follow their own rules. What is unfair about that, when the public has had to put up with a series of failed efforts at self-regulation since 1953?

And providing publishers do not show ‘deliberate or reckless disregard of an outrageous nature’ for someone’s rights, exemplary damages cannot be awarded against them. What is unfair or disproportionate about that? After all, who has the untrammeled right to cry ‘Fire!’ in a crowded room? The contrition mouthed at the Leveson Inquiry by the Charter’s critics has been replaced by vindictive indignation that anyone, especially their readers’ elected representatives, should have the temerity to set a limit on their arrogance.

MediaWise has been at this ‘game’ for 20 years, and revelations of the last two have come as little surprise. When we were starting out few, celebrities and business people would risk being associated with advocate for victims of media abuse, for fear that the press would turn on them. ‘We cannot afford to upset them, because we may need them’ was a common excuse for not donating. ‘Here is a donation, but please don’t make it public,’ was another. So it has been encouraging to see ‘celebrities‘ such as Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and J. K. Rowling stand and be counted.

And it has been great to see and hear ‘survivors’ speak out. Too often in the past, anyone daring the put their head above the parapet would risk another trouncing by the press. That is why we ‘refused to supply victims’ as a matter of policy. Few people would wish to be subjected to the abuse High Grant and Professor Brian Cathcart of Hacked Off have had to endure of late.

Even editors and senior executives have been scared to voice their criticism of colleagues in public. Over the years several have admitted to me, off camera and off the record, that our criticisms of the PCC were valid – but dared not break ranks. They too seemed afraid of the very industry in which they operated. And it was not just members do the public who were scandalised by the promotion of people such as Piers Morgan and Wendy Henry whose breaches of the Editor’s Code sickened even hard-nosed hacks.

I have been accused of damaging the reputation of British journalism internationally by showing up its brutish behaviour – but it is the brutes exposed by Hackgate who have done that to themselves. Now should be the moment of change. We could be in for a new era in British journalism, harnessing the latest information and communications technology to improve the scope and depth of our journalism. All it takes is for editors and proprietors to invest in proper journalism, not PR rewrites and gossip.

If they did, they might be surprised at how quickly the public would repay their investment. Just as no jury would ever have convicted the Daily Telegraph over illicit procurement of the details of MPs expenses, no judge or jury would punish editors and journalists who made it their business to defend people’s right instead of trampling on them, and to hold the powerful to account instead of cosying up to them.

The time for whining is over. Let’s get on with developing journalisms we can trust.

Little confidence new system of regulation will work: CPBF

The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom has issued the following statement following the recent announcement of a new system for regulating the press

The legal basis for a new system of press regulation gives the national press a chance to commit themselves to a means of properly policing their own behaviour. The CPBF does not have great confidence that they will take this opportunity seriously.

The way it was introduced, by a series of surprise moves in parliament, appears to have thrown the editors into disarray. They are now trying to decide whether to co-operate or to revert to type and refuse.

The new regulator itself is being set up by the office of the Press Complaints Commission. If the bigger, right-wing papers decide to boycott it there will be utter chaos. The editors should remember that it is the conduct of the press, and the press alone, that has brought down this crisis upon their heads. And it is by their conduct and theirs alone that any new system will be judged, not by parliamentary legalities.

The CPBF is pleased that the political parties have taken the issue seriously and persuaded the government to set up the structure. But we will believe there has been a real improvement in self-regulation when we see the first front-page apology or the first million-pound fine, as trumpeted by David Cameron.

It would be even better if there were never any more false, deceitful or cruel stories that might lead to such penalties, but the CPBF has even less confidence in the likelihood of that.

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