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  • 16.12.2019 11:54 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ECREA is happy to announce that two new Sections were established in October 2019. The Children, Youth and Media Temporary Working Group and the Visual Cultures Temporary Working Group have received permanent status.

    ECREA currently has 24 permanent thematic Sections, 3 permanent Networks and 4 Temporary Working Groups. All members are invited to update their profiles and to join the recently established Temporary Working Group (Communication and Sport) or Sections (Children, Youth and Media; Media, Cities and Space; and Visual Cultures) by ticking a box on the ECREA Intranet in order to receive all important information sent by the Management Teams.

    Children, Youth and Media

    The Children, Youth and Media section serves as the Europe-wide network for researchers and practitioners interested in a broad spectrum of media- and communication- related activities undertaken by, for and about children and young people in a mediated society. This section aims to foster multidisciplinary perspectives on a wide range of research topics, addressing children and youth from infancy to young adulthood, whether framed in terms of child and adolescent psychosocial development, critical constructions of ‘youth’, cultural analyses of childhood in diverse settings, media effects or media design issues. In our discussions and reflections, we consider variables such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, nationality, cultural and family experiences, media affordances and more. As children’s and youths’ experiences of media diversify in an increasingly complex media landscape, drawing together diverse research insights and projects becomes all the more important and fascinating. This explains why we created a platform for scholars working within various related fields not only limited to media and communication, but also welcoming historians, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, legal researchers, child-computer interaction designers, literature specialists, educationalists, clinicians and more. The result is a lively set of deliberations over theory and methods, and a sensitivity for the societal implications.

    Visual Cultures

    The aim of the section is to provide a forum for discussing and developing work on visual cultures and material practices in a context of broadly understood media and communication scholarship. The objectives are simple: deepen theoretical and empirical understanding of ways in which visual cultures and material practices intertwine, and provide a platform for scholars at various stages in their academic career for constructive dialogue.

  • 16.12.2019 11:38 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The incredible fourteenth volume of The Researching and Teaching Communication Series has recently been published. We asked the coordinating editor of this volume, Maria Francesca Murru, and both of the series editors, Nico Carpentier and Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, about how such unusual books are created within the framework of the European Media and Communication Doctoral Summer School.

    Can you describe the last book from the series?

    Maria Francesca Murru (MFM): As with the previous editions, the last book gives a vivid account of the plurality of research interests and analytical perspectives that come together within the SuSo community. The book collects contributions from lecturers and students that took part in the 2018 edition of the European Media and Communication Doctoral Summer School (SuSo), and two chapters from SuSo alumni. The book coherently reflects the great variety of disciplinary traditions and methodological backgrounds that distinguish the field of Communication and Media Studies as a whole, and that have found in the SuSo a great opportunity to meet, debate and cooperate. What was especially apparent in this year’s cluster of contributions is that our field of study focuses on a wide variety of media technologies (from old to new), demonstrating that contemporary societies are not characterized by the replacement of technologies, but by the always unique articulations, integrations and intersections of old and new.

    How would you describe The Researching and Teaching Communication Book Series?

    Nico Carpentier (NC): I have always seen the Researching and Teaching Communication Book Series as the main publication outlet for the SuSo books. We did have one other book in the book series at the 2007 ICA Conference, but that was the only exception. We found it crucial to have a platform for distributing the SuSo books, also making visible that these 13 books belong to the same project, with the same editorial principles and the same objectives. For instance, we always worked with large editorial teams including the so-called flow managers of the SuSo (who were the SuSo staff members that coordinated the subgroups of students). Another basic principle was that the e-books should always be open access. That's why we created the online platform and made sure all books remained available there. It has now become a SuSo archive, with a large collection of chapters that can still be accessed for free. Open access aligned well with the principles of the SuSo, which was also very much about the gift – the gift of mutual support, the gift of kindness and friendship, and even the gift of constructive critique.

    Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt (PPV): Some years, generous donors have allowed us to publish the books on paper, other editions are only online. But all of the books are a mix of papers from senior and junior scholars and all of them highlight the very current edge of media research in Europe without a very strong disciplinary bias. In particular, the abstracts section gives an interesting review of communication scholarship across the years.

    Where does this idea of publishing a book summarising "the best" from the SuSo come from?

    NC: I think we should be a bit careful with the label of "the best", because the SuSo was about quality and excellence, not about selecting the best. Bringing competition into the SuSo (and into academia) might not be the best (pun intended) possible idea. We did have to make a selection, always with deep regrets, because we couldn't include chapters written by all 40 or 50 PhD participants. To make sure that all voices were represented, we always included the abstracts of the PhD projects of all participants, in the second part of the book. But yes, there was a selection, and quality criteria of course played a decisive role. But we were also sensitive about capturing the diversity of our participant group, in relation to gender, age, region, etc. The choice wasn't always easy, as many of our participants were still figuring out some of the basic components of the their projects, and weren't always 100% ready to write a book chapter.

    In addition, we tried to get as many SuSo staff to publish their work, but they didn't always have the time to write a chapter for us. After all, their teaching at the SuSo was already a voluntary contribution to the SuSo (another gift), and we were a bit careful not to ask for too much from them.

    PPV: The original idea was also linked to the European Erasmus Life Long Learning funding that supported the summer schools in Tartu (2006-2009) and in Ljubljana (2010-2012). Adding a book as a "dissemination output" felt like a very scholarly addition to the SuSo. But as Nico tells, the idea of "the best" has never been the core of the book, rather "a careful selection" from the SuSo. The book has also provided a way to have a continuation between the different SuSo groups, supporting the growth of a community within the student body.

    How has the whole series evolved over the years?

    NC: Things remained quite stable, over time. But of course, you can see the influence of the local SuSo organiser, who became the coordinating editor from book 7 onward. With some exceptions, we often stayed in one location for three years, and with the book series we had Tartu, Ljubljana, Bremen and Milan. These books are always a bit different because of that, which was signified by a new cover design every time we moved. There were also more substantial changes: photography became more important, for instance. And in the last years, we opened up the SuSo book for SuSo alumni, who could also publish a book chapter in the SuSo books, years after attending 'their' SuSo. Leif Kramp continued to coordinate this part, and it was a nice way to express that SuSo PhD participants remained connected to the SuSo over time. And of course, I left the role of the SuSo international director to Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, two years ago, which meant that my involvement in the SuSo, and in the SuSo books, decreased.

    How do you decide what would be the topic of the book and how do you choose what to publish?

    NC: The selection process was well-structured, with flow managers selecting the 6 PhD student chapters, Leif selecting the alumni chapters, and the SuSo staff being invited by the coordinating editor. We worked with our authors until all chapters were good. And in that sense, the SuSo book, for the contributing PhD students, was an extension of the pedagogical project of the SuSo itself, helping participants to improve. It's no secret that the title came last. We did not use a pre-set theme. The SuSo didn't have a pre-set theme either, because we wanted to be as inclusive as possible with the SuSo. Our staff was quite diverse, so we could handle the thematic diversity of our field reasonably well. In other words, there was no reason to restrict the access to the SuSo on the basis of a theme that would privilege one particular subfield of Communication and Media Studies.

    MFM: As a student and then organiser, I have always appreciated the possibility offered by the SuSo to encounter and experience the variety of research interests, theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches that characterise our field. To deal with this diversity is one of the most intriguing and hardest challenges of doing research in this area. Both the SuSo and the book offer a prototype of best practices that can lead to exposing the richness of that diversity. SuSo with its value of gifting, offers a “safe” environment where the variety can be experienced not as a threat but as a fertile and inspiring occasion of mutual exchange. The book, and especially the related editorial task of finding a title that can grasp the thematic variety of the contributions, can be a precious occasion for a meta-reflection on the deep tensions that cross our field and that work silently but effectively under the surface of heterogeneity. In an age of pressing specialisation, this is not an insignificant detail.

    What is the hardest part of the editorial process?

    PPV: As with any book process, there are hard parts – selection of contributors has indeed been one, but then due to the financial constraints related to the SuSo, the book production has always been extremely fast-paced. After meetings in August, students and lecturers had to produce their texts already by October for fast editing and typesetting, so that the book would be out before the end of the calendar year. Later, when we lost our financial support from the EU, the book process became a bit slower, but still, the hectic pace at which the books have been produced has been quite trying. The second challenge has definitely been related to to the fundraising to finance the SuSo and the book. This has got harder and harder over the years and is perhaps the most difficult thing for the local organisers.

    MFM: As in any edited book, the hardest part is to coordinate the efforts of many people while meeting the deadlines and pursuing a general coherence in formats and contents. However, this task has been progressively made easier by the availability of a cluster of codified and well-established procedures that have been developed over the long tradition of the SuSo. Moreover, the kind support of past editions' editors provides a constant supply of good advice and useful suggestions.

    Do you remember some interesting personal stories connected with this book series?

    NC: Sometimes we included more situationist projects (as chapters) in the book series. For instance, in 2018, we included the new lyrics for the Mamma Mia Abba song that one subgroup had written for their final presentation at the SuSo. It captured the spirit of the SuSo very well, I believe. I think my favourite stories from the book chapters relate to when two students from different countries and also with slightly different disciplinary backgrounds have been invited to co-author their papers.

    What are your plans for the future?

    PPV: The future of the book series is very much open at the moment. For the SuSo of 2019, there will be no book, instead, the students are working hard to send in their articles to the special issue of Mediální studia / Media Studies to be published next year. This time, we invited a few more students to submit their papers but kept the spirit of openness, accessibility and supportive academic spirits as the key features of any SuSo activity. The book series will wait for its time. I am sincerely hoping that we have not yet seen the last of it, but what the next edition will be and when is yet to be determined.

    Download the book HERE.

  • 16.12.2019 11:21 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In the time of the Anthropocene we are increasingly gaining awareness of the human impact on Earth and of the contradictory role of science. This awareness makes us simultaneously reflect on the environmentally devastating effects of technological progress, and on the way that science sets out the paths within which we can think of alternative environmental and technological futures. Within ECREA we have to take on responsibility for engaging in the environmental crisis, and to insist on the role of the human and social sciences, in particular media and communication research, when taking on this challenge.

    There is a necessary and urgent call for politicians, CEOs, planners, educators and indeed individuals to listen to the scientists. This means taking seriously the devastating messages conveyed by the measurements of emissions and their effects, and the future scenarios including the question of an irreversible turning point, which have left scientists deeply worried. This call has been present, even prominent, for everyone who has been interested in environmental matters during the last 50 years at least. But, as Greta Thunberg and the recent surge in popular climate activism show us, this call is still debated and resisted. The fact that the international community seemingly has begun to listen, and perhaps even respond, to this call is one of the most interesting perspectives in environmental politics for a long time.

    The scientific documentation of the crisis and the awareness that ‘something must be done’ do not, however, show any clear paths forward. Nor does this solve fundamental issues of responsibility and ethics in a field that is clearly socially and politically very complex. Public debate has been less focused on the equally pressing need for more research and knowledge that goes beyond the technical (and natural) scientific descriptions and predictions of the environmental catastrophe. Climate change is caused and maintained by humans’ interactions with technology and with nature. It is conditioned by the cultural and political understandings of our capitalist economic system, of our relation to and understanding of resources, and of the patterns of consumption and production we participate in. While these cultural and political systems are largely taken as natural and given, the way we understand our interactions with nature is deeply ethical. By gaining awareness of how these processes rest on a predominantly utilitarian environmental ethics, we are urged to think of the environmental crisis in new ways that go beyond this particular capitalistic, utilitarian, individualistic and consumerist horizon of meaning that we are part of.

    As media and communication scholars, the central role played by media in this process seems obvious. This calls for critical analyses of how the media and different mediating processes shape and maintain, but also challenge the current environmental discourse and the complex role played by science. For ECREA to develop as an environmentally responsible organisation is of course to think of new formats for sharing research with less environmental impact and more economic fairness. But it is also necessary for ECREA to insist on the importance of foregrounding a humanistic and social science perspective on how media and communication play a pivotal role in the environmental crisis. And that understanding and researching this role is important to any meaningful, ethical and democratic engagement with this issue.

    Mette Marie Roslyng, Aalborg University, Copenhagen (Chair of the Science and Environment Section)

  • 16.12.2019 11:07 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The hastily relocated COP25 meeting has just begun in the capital of Spain when I sit down to write this reflection about the Academy and environmental responsibility. The climate summit was planned to be held in Chile, but had to be moved because of political unrest in the country. The world-famous, loved and hated climate activist Greta Thunberg – I prefer to call her a leader – has just reached land in Portugal after a three-week sailing trip from the United States. The motto of the UN conference is #TimeForAction and indeed that is what is needed. The imperative of the Paris Agreement is radical change. So it is high time to act differently in response to the climate crisis (and other severe environmental problems for that matter). However, it is not only politicians, industry leaders and other influential decision makers in society, so-called ‘people of power’ that we academics often point at and rightly criticise, that need to make a move. It is not only ‘them’ that need to do more. So do we! Academics of all sorts and the Academy as a whole, a powerful institution also in this post-political era, ought to take action in order to find out what #TimeForAction means. In the end I would argue it is a matter of legitimacy and leadership. Because who are we otherwise to tell ‘others’ what to do? How can we justify a leadership position in terms of scientific knowledge and claims if we cannot even ‘walk the talk’ ourselves?

    Up until now the mobilisation of our knowledge institutions is largely missing. Time flies and we mainly sit still and watch it all happen in front of our eyes as if the common future was not at stake. Instead, we need to develop multiple approaches that genuinely care and cater for the commons in varied ways, both now and in the future. We need viewpoints that are able to analyse and communicate the perspectives of humans, other living beings and the environment as a whole.

    Please do not get me wrong in the sense that I believe that there is one easily defined progressive way forward to tackle complex issues such as climate change. On the contrary, as environmental communication scholars have shown us time and again, global environmental problems have different local facets and expressions. They therefore require diverse responses at the local level. Perhaps that is why we tend to lose sight of them, even if academics should be relatively well equipped to understand such complex wide-reaching problems at multiple levels? Global challenges demand a variety of local responses from us. That we situate ourselves in specific contexts. That we stop pointing fingers at others. That we also turn the gaze on ourselves.

    And may I add that contemporary hegemonic political regimes’ one-dimensional way of tackling climate change as basically a matter of individual consumption and life-style choice, is simply flawed. It will not lead the way. Nor will the temporary increase in public interest for these issues each year during COP meetings, when our news media are full of climate reports, or when alarming results from the IPCC panel are published, also regularly well covered by journalists around the globe. Such ritualised media climate events have also formed the research agenda for many media and communication scholars ever since 2009 when COP15 was held in Copenhagen. There is nothing wrong of course with studying the public discourse on climate change in detail during those specific periods in time. But I have often wondered what is going on in between those events and in more peripheral places or media outlets that are not populated by (inter-)national elites?

    Even if I make this bold statement about a climate ignorant Academy, it would be to go too far were I not to acknowledge that there are exceptions here and there of more progressive movements and reflected leadership within universities and research organisations. The collaboration between IAMCR and IECA to give out The Climate Communication Research Award is one such example. But if we zoom out and take a bird’s eye view… I am afraid to say that the Academy in general has still not changed. Universities and other research institutes belonging to the higher education sector, embarrassingly also in the wealthier Western part of the world that I know more about (and happen to be born in), have not moved much at all in terms of changing practices and priorities in response to the current climate crisis. And I do not think that the status quo is the result of conscious decisions.

    One could argue that we tend to hear official statements from our representatives more often about the magnitude of the complex and global challenges foreseen by the research community, should the average temperature rise by more than the 1.5 degree Celsius target. True, and there are also better conditions today than previously to fund climate-relevant research projects. At the same time, we have failed to seriously reflect upon the sincere and specific meaning of the climate crisis when it comes to our own missions, work and activities. Not many of us are even aware of the carbon footprint we make as individual academics when working, let alone the total environmental impact of our own universities, or research networks and affiliated member organisations for that matter. What does #TimeForAction mean for how we conduct research and educate? What does it mean for all our areas of work, and specifically in relation to media and communication studies? Media and communication industries are central study-objects, including the digital transformation of our communication practices and societies. But are we sufficiently informed about the environmental impact of these businesses and processes? I would say no. And what is it that we focus on, or fail to focus on, in our activities that contribute to the current crisis? Are there alternative, more sustainable ways of working that would be worth testing out to help us to manage e.g. the need for less fossil-fuelled travels, while at the same time enhancing interaction among scholars? Such types of questions are key for research associations like ECREA to focus on.

    But let me end this critical (self-)reflection on the Academy on a more positive note. It concerns one small adjustment with good results that we introduced during my time as chair of the Science and Environment Communication section in ECREA that might work for others as well? Instead of travelling across Europe every year to meet, we made sure to arrange each biannual SEC event either in the form of a travel-free meeting like a webinar, or close in time and location to another big conference such as IAMCR, ICA or COCE, since many of us were already planning to attend those as well. Not only could we decrease our collective carbon footprint, we were also able to establish better connections with scholars who had no funding for travels, or who came from other parts of the world outside of Europe, since they could participate as long as they had internet access. But that does not mean that using digital tools alone will save us. Articulating what #TimeForAction means for the Academy simply requires much more work from us all then that.

    Dr Annika Egan Sjölander, Associate Professor, Department of Culture and Media Studies, Umeå University, Sweden. Also former chair of the Science and Environment Communication Section in ECREA (2012-2018).

  • 12.09.2019 11:45 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Media & the City Temporary Working Group has received permanent status and has become the next ECREA thematic Section called Media, Cities and Space.

    This TWG was originally intended to constitute an interdisciplinary platform for European research and education around the manifold relationship between media and urban environments. Gaining permanent structure within ECREA allows Media, Cities and Space to further strengthen this work, and at the same time to expand the remit of the group to take into account the context provided by the increasingly pervasive mediation of space and social life.

    Media & the City has, in its years of operation as a TWG, established a strong international network, and has become a forum for theoretical, empirical and methodological collaboration and knowledge production. From the beginning, the TWG has emphasised crossing disciplinary borders in the study of media (both in the sense of representations and technologies) in urban space and as an integral part of urban sociality. The ubiquitous presence of ICTs in cities and other spatial contexts today has rendered them inherently hybrid thereby accentuating even more the need and relevance of interdisciplinary orientation.

    Interdisciplinary studies within Media, Cities and Space will focus on the complexities of the study of media and communications in cities (and urban/suburban/rural contexts) and the centrality and relationality of mediated spaces for lived experience and social (inter)action, and will generate questions such as the following:

    • How are major historical changes such as digital mediation of spatial structures and internationalisation affecting cities, both individually, in terms of urbanites’ lived experience, and collectively in terms of urban sociality, urban policymaking, smart city developments and visions of the future city?
    • How might knowledge and understanding of life and communication in mediated (urban) spaces be advanced by combining insights and approaches from social sciences, cultural and critical studies, science & technology studies, urban geography and architecture studies, mobile media & locative media studies as well as media and communication studies more broadly?
    • How can the different theoretical approaches to the role of space and place in mediated communication be productively combined in empirical investigation that would use the multitude of available methods from various disciplines?
    • What are the major conceptual and methodological features that differentiate studies of the mediated city and other hybrid spaces from studies in both 'neighbouring' disciplines (such as political communication) and in 'non-media-centric' disciplines such as geography or urban policy & planning?

    By establishing as a permanent part of ECREA, Media, Cities and Space will seek to foster further collaborations with existing Sections and TWGs at key intersections of research agendas, as well as make ourselves into a welcoming home to other relevant subfields which currently have no home within ECREA, such as mobile media/communications and locative media.

  • 12.09.2019 11:45 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Job Allan Wefwafwa, University of The Witwatersrand, South Africa

    Between 8th and 16th July 2019, the ECREA Summer School was held at the University of Tartu, convened by Andra Siibak, Pille Pruulmann-Vengerveldt and the team at the Faculty of Social Sciences. The Summer School was a great success with 43 registered student-participants in attendance. Student-participants’ self-introductions filled the lecture room with expectation, warmth, compassion and respect for each other; easily erasing the bad impression created when this student-participant was arbitrarily singled out from the clearance queue at Tallinn Airport for no other reason than being a Black African and bundled alongside suspected illegal immigrants for interrogation in what officials called a “second-line-check”.

    Pille Pruulmann Vengerfeldt, Irena Reifova, Alenka Jelen Sanchez and Ilija Tomanic TrivundzaThe student-participants were divided into two groups for sessions consisting of lectures, demonstrations, discussions and practical exercises. The sessions centred on PhD development right from idea conception to publishing as well as handling publishers’ rejections. To demonstrate how publishers pick/reject academic works, twelve student works were selected for consideration to be published in the ECREA journal. Although sessions such as diploma awarding, roundtable discussions, evaluation and dinners appeared most colourful, student presentations were the

    most anticipated because of the feedback that could help students to improve. There were three student presentation groups: Yellow, Green and Blue, each with varying topics; participants gained personalised attention and vast information. Each student presenter was assigned a fellow student respondent as well as a facilitator respondent and was given time for floor feedback.

    Facilitators harnessed their own personal experiences and situations into sessions, making them easy and quick to relate to. The humble yet high achieving admirably became role models to students for humility and self-actualisation. Burcu Sümer led the zealous and energetic team, fascinating student-participants into attentiveness amidst tempting afternoon doss-offs. In a way so real-world and unforgettable, Pille Pruulmann-Vengerveldt left students in empathetic pin drop silence when she used her family situation to awe-strikingly take them through auto-ethnography.

    The most refreshing session was Simone Tosoni’s afternoon ethnographic walk into the serene Tartu City in search of urban media; where students occasionally lost their attention on their assignment to “interact” with silent statues dotting the City. Well, daily sessions started at 9:30 AM through to 6:00 PM, making such unsanctioned “interactions” inevitable. Locals’ second glances at Black student-participants; with kids and pet dogs literally staring until pulled away by guilty guardians made the walk interesting – contrasting with the compassion in the lecture room. Only taxi drivers found Black people usual.   

    Tiring sessions were made fun by the varying students’ and facilitators’ heavy accents; with me leading the pack (chuckles) at occasionally struggling to listen. Evening “hangouts” too, helped drown the tiredness of the days, besides casually sharing academic aspirations and interests.

    As ECREA President Ilja Tomanić and Secretary General Irena Reifová brought down the curtains at Tartu, the ill-treated student-participant at the airport was filled with contentment that was nipped in the bud when he missed the Milan 2018 ECREA Summer School due to visa mishaps. His hope and glee far outweigh the thought that his freedom to participate in academic interactions lies in the immigration gods’ “second-line-checks”; that is way beyond ECREA’s intervention. 

    Photo Credits: Stephanie Tintel

  • 12.09.2019 09:48 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Lenka Vochocova

    “How to get published”, “make your article discoverable”, “what do search engines look at?” – as part of their submission guidelines, SAGE helps us learn how to be recognized by search engines, which are “using secret complex mathematical algorithms that change every month”1. Nothing wrong with that – until you start to think about how much your ability to fulfil the rules that lead to the greatest visibility of your article to such capricious engines influences the likelihood to be published at all. Sarcasm aside, the search engines are doing a great job in an environment where the journals are flooding the scholarly community with an abundance of interesting articles, while we continue to produce a glut of them for the journals. And we keep producing. Mainly because we are forced to by our universities, because we promised to perform when signing our contracts. Because we all know that it’s all about money. Or do we simply enjoy the race? The hierarchies?

    After a few years or decades in academia, you can’t help but think in your weak moments that it’s rather a specific skill to sell yourself, to make yourself visible and to stick to the predefined rules that make you successful in the hierarchy, rather than aspiring to academic excellence, new perspectives or outstanding thoughts. This knowledge (or suspicion) does not prevent us from playing the game. You can observe it at some conferences and in different international projects – how clubs are formed around those who are most successful, and how unrecognizable those who are not so successful, and their work and thoughts, are for those on the top.

    In my brightest moments I cannot but laugh at all these hierarchies we build in our heads. But more often, all the haste and lack of interest in each other’s work becomes just annoying and demotivating. Don’t get me wrong, I know the good that peer feedback can do in academia. But I also know how the constant need to judge others and to be judged, in our case in the frame set predominantly by the most successful publishers in the field and their rules helping you to get recognized (by the search engine!), prevents us from remaining creative and curious, from seeing the potential in difference, in alternative thoughts, in the ideas of those who are considered less performing. We have just become too used to thinking in patterns; conventionally, we have learned to take into consideration which research strategy or topic can be successful and which of them have no chance in the system.

    As a scholar whose work is mostly related to critical theory, I wonder how and whether at all we can remain sensitive towards all the inequalities constructed and reinforced through communication and the media, while simultaneously cherishing the hyper-competitive, performance and success-oriented environment in an age in which people are burning out and breaking down as a result of their chase for careers. Will individuals competing for publications with the highest impact factor, for the best abstract of the conference or for the most recognizable academic career make us, as a field, more reflective of the important societal changes or will it help us cultivate new ideas?

    If so, maybe it is worth the sacrifice. But would we not benefit much more, both individually and as a collective, from taking a break from time to time, despite all the pressures in neoliberal academia, to meet for deeply focused, respectful, non-hierarchical discussions or workshops in which we would judge (if necessary) each other based on the quality of our thoughts and freshness of our ideas, instead of on our academic (celebrity) status? What if we, even if just for a moment, stopped comparing the size of… our h-indexes? Because there are so many more thrilling things to do in our field.


  • 12.09.2019 09:41 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New Temporary Working Group: Communication and Sport

    Chair: Daniel Nölleke (University of Vienna)

    Vice-Chairs: Kirsten Frandsen (Aarhus University), Xavier Ramon (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)

    ECREA is happy to announce that a new Temporary Working Group was established. The aim of the Communication and Sport TWG is to foster European scholarly understanding of the complex relations between communication and sport.

    As a growing social and economic phenomenon and key actor in conemporary societies, it is distributed, consumed and even practiced via media. It has proven the driving force behind the emergence of new media. Hence, communication studies all over the world have witnessed a growing interest in the field as an area of study and research.

    In studying how communication processes influence sport as well as how sport influences communication processes, the TWG covers the nexus of mediated communication and sport in all its complexity. Subject of research are (semi-)public news and social media as well as (emerging) media technologies that affect the distribution, consumption and practicing of sports. By sports, the TWG understands the whole range of sporting activities from popular high-performance sports via marginalized/minority disciplines to leisure sports. The TWG applies existing theories and models on wider communication. However, it also takes sports role as a proven driving force of media development seriously and strives to develop new concepts to explain and predict phenomena which are not necessarily restricted to sports communication. Hence, the TWG collaborates with existing ECREA Thematic Sections and Temporary Working Groups. Moreover, interdisciplinary networking to other disciplines such as sports management, sociology, economics, health research, and psychology is supported. The TWG invites work from all methodologies and epistemological views.

    Topics that are covered in the Temporary Working Group include – but are far from restricted to the following:

    • communication efforts by athletes and sports organizations,
    • strategic communication of sport-related issues by politicians, companies, etc.,
    • sports journalism,
    • equality and diversity in sports coverage: gender, sexual and race diversity in sport, disability sport, sport and social inclusion,
    • mediatization of sports,
    • media, sport and cultural citizenship,
    • advertising in sports,
    • emerging technologies and sport: mobile media, e-sports, virtual reality and beyond,
    • patterns of media sports consumption,
    • effects of sports communication on fans and the wider public,
    • fan communication and mediated engagement with sport.

    The Temporary Working Group “Communication and Sport” is particularly interested in bringing together researchers on sports communications from different parts of Europe and to pool their expertise. It pursues the following main objectives:

    • provide a platform to share and discuss pan-European research on all kind of issues related to mediated communication and sport,
    • build a network of European researchers to bundle expertise and to stimulate collaborative projects to facilitate grant applications and enhance global visibility,
    • work towards the authoring and editing of books, special journal issues and in the long run – the establishment of a European journal on communication and sport,
    • collaborate with other Thematic Sections and Temporary Working Groups of ECREA in areas of mutual interest,
    • initiate collaborations with other national and international associations of the field,
    • organize regular symposia (also inviting practitioners in sports communication) and panels at the bi-annual ECREA conferences,
    • provide support for young scholars at the beginning of their academic career,
    • facilitate the exchange of information about academic teaching in the field of sport communication and promote its integration in university curricula of communication and media studies,
    • enhance the public visibility of European research on communication and sport through public engagement activities (e. g. by issuing appropriate comments or position statements about public matters that implicate the relationship between communication and sport),
    • initiate contacts to sports media professionals and exchange academic and practical expertise on sports communication.
  • 11.09.2019 11:08 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Salla-Maaria Laaksonen (D.Soc.Sc.) is a postdoctoral researcher in the Consumer Society Research Centre at the University of Helsinki. Her research areas are technology, organizations and new media, and she often works with digital and computational methods.

    How did you start to be involved in acrobatics?

    I started by trying out aerial yoga and aerial hoop at a pole dancing club back in 2012 and also had a weekend course of dance acrobatics. I was soon addicted and started doing both floor acrobatics and aerial acrobatics regularly at Circus Helsinki and in a few other places too. Currently I am mostly training vertical rope and aerial hoop. That means climbing up and performing movements a few metres off the ground. It's like dancing on air, actually, with a non-human partner!

    What would you say is your biggest achievement in acrobatics?

    Probably performing in a group show in front of an audience of over 100 people at our spring party this year! But there are also minor personal achievements all the time when you dare to exceed your own limits and try something new, like performing a salto or doing a big drop on air.

    What is different in acrobatics from your academic career? And what is similar?

    There are some similarities: you need to develop some basic skills and muscles for both, and you also need some courage to try new things. I started both at the same time and based on my progress it seems acrobatics is actually more difficult than academic work – then again, I do not train circus 40 hours a week :)

    Does this task conflict with your academic work, such as missing deadlines or having to choose between events?

    Not really; it's more like the best reason ever to stop your work day early enough and head to my circus class. On work trips, however, it's not so easy to find a space for training circus as it is to go jogging or swimming.

    Would you recommend your hobby to other academics?

    I would recommend doing any sports for academics to compensate for all the sitting and brain work, but why aerial acrobatics in particular works so well is because in the air you definitely cannot think about your research, but you have to concentrate to wrap yourself correctly. So it is a perfect way to clear your head!

    Photo credits: Salla-Maaria Laaksonen (Instagram)

  • 11.09.2019 10:55 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dr. Evelyn Runge is a journalist and researcher at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel. Her research project, “Image Capture. The Production Conditions of Photo-Journalists in the Digital Age“, investigates the current transformations in media economics, infrastructures, and visual storytelling. Dr. Runge’s photojournalism has appeared in “Freemen’s World”, “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” and “RiffReporter”.

    How did you start to be involved in photography?

    My father gave me my first camera when I was nine. It was a consumer medium-format camera; he himself received it from his grandfather many years before I inherited it. Later, I photographed with automatic compact cameras. I bought my first automatic SLR camera when I was 16, shortly after I began working as a freelance journalist for the local newspaper. During the 1990s, this newspaper still had a darkroom and a wet lab in the basement where I developed my BW-films and enlarged photos. Later we worked with a negative scanner. The editors were very generous with film material and asked me to shoot a lot.

    Firstly, I learned a lot; secondly, the fee for images was much better than what I received per printed line of text. During my studies at Munich University and at the German School of Journalism, I had a job interview to join a photo agency specialising in sport photography, but when they asked me to buy a telephoto lens for the job, it was clear I could not afford it. I started working in the wet lab of a friend who mainly produced stock photography at that time. In exchange for developing his colour negatives and producing contact sheets, I could use his equipment to work on my own stuff. At that time, I mainly shot in BW and enlarged on Baryta photo paper.

    Later, already in the digital age of photography, I enjoyed introducing my students at university to work in the dark room, to produce photograms, develop films and enlarge prints. For many of them, using an analogue camera with a view finder and without a display was challenging but exciting.

    How does your creative process look like? Do you carry your camera with you and take pictures of things you see? Or do you have a dedicated time for taking pictures?

    Bedouin Stories with Nasser Mansour from the Jebeliya tribeMy creative process depends on the circumstances. As an example, I would like to talk about my journeys with the Bedouins: In April 2018, I crossed half of the Egyptian Sinai peninsula with three Bedouin tribes on foot, 220 kilometres in 12 days. I was commissioned to produce a reportage in text and photographs for a German-speaking adventure magazine for men, called “Freemen’s World”. Even before starting to photograph, I imagine potential views and my position as a photographer. How could I secure motives from close and distant range, from the changing landscapes, from the camels that carried our gear, from my fellow hikers, and from the Bedouins and their way of life? How would I deal with people who did not want to be photographed? How could I foresee good motives without knowing the exact terrain and the incidents we would face?

    Every photo-story starts with this mental work. To photograph during the hike was challenging because I had to be on high alert all the time. I adjusted to the Bedouins to take pictures behind the scenes: while most hikers got up for breakfast at 6, the Bedouins got up much earlier to start a fire and to bake fresh farashee, thin Bedouin-bread, for breakfast. During lunch time, after hiking from 7 until 11.30h in the morning, I could not rest like my fellow-hikers because I wanted to capture how the Bedouins prepare food. Before putting up my own tent at night, I had to make sure that I caught some pictures of my fellow hikers pitching their own tents. And then things happen that one is not prepared for. On the first day, a deadly viper nestled in the bark of an Acacia tree, exactly where we wanted to rest. It was easy to shoot a photograph of it on the bark, but when one of Bedouins eventually decided to kill it, he did it so quickly that it was hard to follow: with the help of a branch he catapulted it from the bark, held its head down and smashed it with a stone. Then he went on to prepare our lunch. One time one of our camels got stuck with its baggage and one foot in the rocks. I was positioned further uphill and could not focus on ‘the problem’. I have photos from this spot, and I do remember this scene clearly, but I do not feel the urge to show these images: they are not strong enough.

    Baking FarasheeAnd of course, after the journey, another part of the creative process takes place, that is selecting images. And letting go of them at the same time, because the selection that is later done by the photo-editor does not necessarily fit with my personal favourites. In the case of the Bedouin story, the magazine chose to print 14 pictures. I found it very interesting to see the final selection done by them: I think they chose rather conservative-looking photographs. But I understood that the photo-editor came from a different point of view than me: she had not been to the desert, and her selection was that of a ‘first look’. Then I thought maybe it is a good way to choose pictures, because most likely the readers will also be in the position of never having been to the place I have been to.

    What do you use? Mobile phone? Professional equipment? Classic BW photography (if so, are you able to also control the whole process?)

    I do mobile phone photography, but I do not take it too seriously. It can be fun and fast, but I think the screen is an obstacle to composing properly. I prefer cameras with a viewfinder, and yes, I own professional and semi-professional equipment. As my preferred digital SLR camera, I shoot with a Canon. I have owned it since 2010, and I bought it from the money I received as prize money: at that time, I mainly worked as a text journalist, and I was awarded the “Nachwuchspreis für Reisejournalisten” (talent award for travel journalists) from Switzerland’s Graubünden canton: I wrote a piece about the life of ants in the Swiss national park. My story was published in “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” on September 26th, 2010 (in German). The link to a reprint in the Swiss nespaper "Engadiner Post" is here (December 16 2010, p. 13).

    I also work with an analogue medium-format camera, and with this one I mostly do BW photography. I used to develop films and enlarge prints, also in colour, but do not have the time and opportunities now here in Jerusalem.

    What would you say is your biggest achievement in photography?

    That I still enjoy it.

    In your current research project “Image Capture” you investigate the production conditions of photojournalists and the development of the global image market in the digital age. How does your photography work and scholarship relate to one another?

    View over Southern Sinai from Jebel Katharina, Egypt’s highest mountainI think that my research work makes me more reflective about my photojournalism, and vice versa. I also have great respect for everyone who survives the tough circumstances on the image market, due to the low fees that are paid for photojournalism and the allotment that some photo agencies keep for themselves instead of sharing the revenue equitably with those who create the images: the photographers. It is quite common that at a certain point, freelance photojournalists leave their job to do something else, for instance taking up a more stable position as a photo editor or moving into something different. In the interviews I did with photo journalists, photo editors and photo producers as part of my academic research, it turned out that most of them believe in their professionionalism, for example how to gain access to informants, or how to tell a story – basically core journalistic skills. Therefore (and to my surprise), they were not afraid of competition from amateurs on social media.

    What is different in photography from your academic career? And what is similar?

    Whereas in my academic work, most times I am glued to my laptop inside a building, photography gives me the chance to work outside and in nature. Similarities are for instance: to make sense of something, to make things visible for others, to tell stories, to engage with unknown people in an unprejudiced manner, to convince them why their opinion or lifestyle matters to me and society, to look closely, to show and respect societal diversity, and to stay curious.

    Does this task conflict with your academic work, such as missing deadlines or having to choose between events?

    I am grateful that I can live and work in my triangle of research, journalism and photography, plus adventures. Sometimes one activity is more important than another. In general, I wish for more encounters and co-working options with colleagues who also use photography in their research, such as anthropologists. So: if any ECREA member is interested, please get in touch with me.

    Would you recommend your hobby to other academics?

    I would recommend taking photography more seriously than a hobby.

    Photo credit:

    Portrait Evelyn Runge. Credit: Chris Coe

    Bedouin Stories with Nasser Mansour from the Jebeliya tribe. Credit: Evelyn Runge (©_Runge_Evelyn_k-IMG_5408.jpg)

    Baking Farashee. Credit: Evelyn Runge (©_Runge_Evelyn_k-IMG_5892.jpg)

    View over Southern Sinai from Jebel Katharina, Egypt’s highest mountain. Credit: Evelyn Runge (©_Runge_Evelyn_k-IMG_5864.jpg)




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