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  • 11.09.2019 10:53 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The University of Minho welcomes the 2020 ECC Conference

    The 8th European Communication Conference of ECREA will be held in Braga, Portugal, 2-5 October 2020. The Local Organizing Committee is based in the Communication and Society Research Centre (Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Sociedade - CECS) of the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Minho.

    The University of Minho looks forward to hosting the ECREA 2020 conference in the historic Roman city of Bracara Augusta (now called Braga), close to the birthplace of the Portuguese nation in the 12th century, the city of Guimarães. The University of Minho is in the Northern region of the country (bordering the Spanish region of Galicia) and it has two main campi: Braga and Guimarães, 20km Kms apart. The closest international airport is Oporto.

    The main theme of the conference is ‘Communication and trust: building safe, sustainable and promising futures’. The conference theme aims to draw attention to vulnerabilities shaped by the speed of technological change and new communicative practices. How can reliable and quality information maintain its relevance in a highly volatile context? How can citizens’ trust in the media be promoted? Which policies should be designed and implemented to restore people’s confidence in public institutions? How to ensure meaningful inclusiveness? What role should media education and literacy play in activating citizenship? How to regulate media conglomerates and internet giants‘' activities and to enforce transparency and the defence of the public interest?

    The feeling of fear and uncertainty is expanding and affecting citizens’ confidence in the future. Information and communication technologies are faced with suspicion for what they also mean in terms of surveillance and control. To improve trust in and through communication is a critical concern for present-day and future societies. The role of communication technologies – so often presented as wholly benign – is now being readdressed as a source of additional noise and as a promoter of new risks. The manipulation of information, and the security and the violation of privacy are dangers that cannot be ignored. Far from being synonymous withof transparency and qualified content, information abundance and the access to multiple channels of communication today require additional competences to distinguish between opportunities and threats.

    In this conference, communication scholars have the chance to meet and to discuss the relationship between trust and social engagement. It is the right time to discuss the responsibility of communication organizations and professionals forin the production and distribution of consistent, well-intentioned and non-toxic content which is the crucial foundation for promising futures.

    The city of Braga and the University of Minho are vibrant locations and we believe that the conference will be challenging in scientific terms but also a rewarding cultural experience.

  • 11.09.2019 10:38 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Fighting "Academic capitalism": New ECREA task force explores the patterns of neoliberal academia

    Alenka Jelen-Sanchez (Chair of the Task Force) and Thomas Allmer (Vice-Chair of the Task Force)

    Alenka Jelen SanchezRecent economic and political changes that have been taking place at universities across Europe have attracted widespread criticism for their negative impact on academic culture, labour and knowledge generation. This is reflected in a growing academic literature investigating these transformations in the context of neoliberalism and the rise in the interweaving of private and public providers. Within universities, a new entrepreneurial and managerial spirit has resulted in the implementation of market-driven rules and competition. Educational institutions aim to respond to market demands whereby the public character of education and research tends to fade away. Critical scholars speak about ‘academic capitalism’ (Slaughter & Leslie 1999), the ‘corporate university’ (Giroux 2002), ‘’ (Hall 2016), and a ‘fast academia’ with always-on cultures.

    The performance and quality evaluations at universities are increasingly driven by an elaborate set of monitoring procedures. These include, but are not limited to, grant income, citation scores, workload models, transparent costing data, research and teaching ‘excellence’, student evaluations, employability scores, impact factors and commercial university league tables. The proliferation of the latter in particular triggered a culture of naming and shaming. It has been argued that surveillance culture and audit regimes have led to a new psyche and structures of feeling at universities that include individual pressure, anxiety and threats. Indeed, stress and burnout levels among academic staff are now comparable with ‘at risk’ groups, such as health care professionals and police officers.

    These structural transformations have had several impacts on workingThomas Allmer conditions, practices, work relations as well as overall academic culture and politics. The intensification and extension of work, increasing teaching and funding pressures, disrupted work-life balance, casualisation, precariousness, self-exploitation and self-marketing are becoming everyday life in academia. These are fostering systems of power with structural inequalities that disproportionately affect early career scholars, women, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities. Several studies have shown that intersectionality is a pervasive issue in academia; those who work on research-only contracts, work part-time, have up to five years’ work experience, are female and under the age of 40 as well as non-white are most likely to be on temporary contracts, struggle with career progression, and are paid less than their counterparts.

    Within this environment, communication scholars who in several contexts still struggle to establish disciplinary legitimacy and the credibility of communication studies find themselves in a less than favourable position. Communication studies is often treated as a ‘cash cow’ that attracts students, but is not a ‘real science’ and thus receives limited investment and research funding from national and European funding bodies. Not having resources and capacity to perform at the level of more established disciplines, particularly in terms of research ‘excellence’, citation scores, impact and income generation, communication studies often finds itself at the bottom of disciplinary hierarchies within university systems.

    However, these transformations, conditions and institutional contexts in which academic labour is taking place are often considered simply as a ‘taken for granted’ backdrop. The experiences of academics in communication studies (and beyond) have somehow largely escaped critical attention, while the experiences of work in other sectors, such as the cultural and creative industries are well documented. There is still a lack of understanding of labouring subjectivities in academia, as well as a lack of analysis of how the existing conditions are experienced by communication scholars.

    The aim of this task force is to explore and map patterns of working conditions, culture and practices in neoliberal academia across Europe, and to produce guidelines and policy documents for ECREA and its members as well as policy-makers at a European level.

    The Task Force will aim to address the following questions:

    • How do different working contexts and conditions in academia shape feelings of autonomy, flexibility and reputation on one hand and precariousness, overwork and dissatisfaction on the other?
    • In which way are the working conditions of academics characterised by intensification and extension in the digital domain?
    • What are the broader political realities and potentials in terms of solidarity, participation and democracy at universities?
    • What implications do neoliberal trends in academia have on the quality of academic work, creativity, innovation and knowledge production?
    • How do working conditions at higher education institutions, such as precariousness, workloads, control mechanisms, and intersectionality influence communication scholars, their experience, and their mental and physical health? And how do they influence their work relations and institutional politics?
    • And last but not least; what can or should ECREA do to tackle these issues and advocate its position at the European level?

    This Task Force is being established at a very critical moment with increasing pervasiveness of job insecurities, pressurised workloads, business-driven management, control mechanisms, mental and physical health, and structural inequalities within higher education. These tend to have an impact on individuals’ economic security and control as well as relationships with other colleagues and the wider politics and culture within universities. With this Task Force, we are hoping to address these issues, challenge and resist changes that are worsening the position of communication scholars and identify solutions for academic environments that protect the integrity, intellectual creativity and wellbeing of communication scholars.

  • 01.04.2019 19:44 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It’s only one click… The hidden impact of our daily technological use

    Miguel Vicente, member of the ECREA Executive Board, member of the Science and Environment Section

    Human communication has drastically changed during the last century. Mass media shifted the amount, reach and depth of communication exchanges throughout the 20th century. It is necessary to understand the consolidation of press, radio and television to know how the world worked for several decades. However, there has been an additional leap in the last fifty years, with digital communication rapidly becoming commonplace across the planet. Even though obvious and diverse inequalities impede its spread, the Internet has turned into a space for a growing part of humankind: one can hardly imagine our current daily life without computers, mobile phones, tablets, email and several other new realities defining our times. One of the several strengths of digitalization is the increasing access to online worlds, where human relations are experiencing an ongoing transformation without any necessary offline connection.

    Digital ICT are referred to very often as a remarkable step forward in facing the environmental challenges of the current era: for instance, working online from our homes is usually presented as a good way to reduce emissions while commuting to and from our workplace, and also as a good individual and family solution when combining domestic tasks and external labour. Shifting to online environments are perceived, consequently, as a greening solution. However, and even though it is hard to clearly measure it, sending email, surfing the web or enjoying streaming services do have an environmental impact, even though this impact remains unnoticed for most of us.

    As individuals developing our careers within academia, we use our technological devices extensively and intensively. From time to time, one can find open questions, media stories and research articles dealing with the negative consequences of this technological dependence, but most of them place their interest on the psychological and physiological damage at the individual level, and the related effects on social life around individuals. Consciousness regarding the environmental impact of our daily decisions is not portrayed as often in the news or in our scientific journals. No one neglects the benefits arising from the digital revolution experienced in recent decades, but it might be worth emphasizing that these changes and gains are also leading to environmental impacts on our planet. Sustainability policies must take into account these impacts and incorporate them into complex calculations to face the urgent and growing climate challenges present on our horizon.

    In order to frame adequately the size of this challenge, a deeper analysis and a critical perspective is required. Key metaphors that are very common nowadays, like services stored in clouds, evoke a natural and ethereal space collecting the growing amount of data, and hiding the material side of these ICT systems. In the current platform society, with an unstoppable presence of individuals demanding permanent access to Internet services, the energy bill will not decrease, challenging the sustainability of the current system of production and consumption. Data centres are becoming central actors in the international electricity markets, which shows in terms of their emissions, too. The role played by leading global platforms stills needs to be discussed by those tackling the consequences arising from these giants.

    The environmental impact of ICT usage can be identified, at least, in three different stages of the life cycle of technological devices:

    First, the design and production phase. The commercial demand for devices remains constant for several years, whereas the amount of users keeps growing with the incorporation of new social territories, and with groups and audiences stepping for the first time into the current technological age. Geopolitical issues are also behind the production chains, fostering conflicts in the Global South due to the appropriation and redistribution of the so called “conflict or blood minerals”, such as coltan.

    Second, technological consumption is still on the rise, claiming around 7% of the total global consumption of energy. The abusive usage of smartphones and other gadgets is endangering the planet. Consumption is pushed by actors, who have authority over strategic actions relating to technological development and advertising of the products. Programmed obsolence is a well-known term, forcing consumers to update their devices very frequently and to replace them in case of any small disadvantage: the advertising industry promotes lifestyles based on an intense consumption strategy and technological manufacturers are offering their products and updates in ever shorter periods of time.

    And third, waste management confronts all of us with the unavoidable evidence of technological materiality. A society, where fast and frequent replacement of existing technological devices by new ones id promoted, must first develop a critical consciousness among its citizens, regarding both their use and exchange values. The size of the problem – which is now turning into uncontrolled accumulation of technological devices in the Global South, like Ghana, coming from the North, where they were designed and used – and the complex international relations behind it, was portrayed several times by diverse filmmakers.

    A critical understanding of the ongoing environmental crisis, and its direct relation with the unequal global distribution of resources and damage, requires combining the three abovementioned stages in our analyses, as the full cycle of production, consumption and waste management needs to be identified and controlled.

    From its very foundation, ECREA has placed environmental challenges at the forefront of its priorities. The Science and Environmental Communication Section has covered extensively the key topics of a field that grows fuelled by the urgency of the responses to climate change impacts. But even within this highly conscious and skilled group of scholars, the digital footprint is usually placed behind other priorities. One cannot imagine an association like ECREA without the role played by digital ICT, but identifying the environmental impact of our daily lives, as individuals and as members of diverse social groups, turns into a necessary first step to increase our climate awareness and gain some opportunity to react in time to partially mitigate climate change and to adapt to the ongoing transformations.

  • 29.03.2019 19:49 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Media Accountability in the Era of Post-Truth Politics

    Interview with the editors: Tobias Eberwein, Susanne Fengler, Matthias Karmasin

    Can you please describe the key challenges to media accountability discussed in the book?

    Journalists around the globe are currently facing immense pressure. Reasons for this trend are manifold and include various challenges on the political, economic and technological levels. Evidence is most easily discernible in the political arena – just think of the inflationary critique of the media thatMatthias Karmasin culminates in politically motivated catchwords like ‘fake news’ or ‘lying press’. At the same time, the ongoing economization of practical news work leads to an erosion of journalism’s financial basis, with consequences that are often drastic. Unfortunately, the technological innovations of the recent past have by no means helped to              alleviate these tendencies. For years, we have highlighted numerous advantages that digitisation of public communication may bring about for journalism. By now, however, these high hopes have mostly vanished: the accelerated publication cycles of online journalism create a higher risk of editorial mistakes and misinformation; increasing user participation incites unparalleled waves of hate speech and trolling; and new forms of automated communication make it even more difficult to ascribe responsibility for published content. In the light of these challenges, it is no surprise that audience trust in journalistic products is waning in many parts of the world. In the given situation, media responsibility and accountability seem to be more important than ever, and our book intends to analyse and evaluate the instruments and practices that are available for safeguarding free and responsible media in Europe.

    Susanne Fengler

    What is the original contribution of this book?

    The anthology aims at mapping the state of media accountability in Europe – and at highlighting perspectives for future developments in this field: Which instruments of media accountability are currently prevailing in the various journalism cultures across Europe and how can their mode of operation be assessed? What are the particular problems and challenges they are facing? And which possible strategies can help to overcome these challenges? These and similar questions are discussed from an international and interdisciplinary perspective. By bringing together more than 30 scholars with different national and professional backgrounds, we hope to broaden the view on media accountability, which only becomes graspable if it is approached as a cross-sectional research topic.

    How do you think Media Accountability in the Era of Post-Truth Politics can be important for other areas of research on media and communications?

    Because of its interdisciplinary approach, the book offers relevant insights for many fields of research in media and communications: journalism studies, organisational communication, media economics, political communication, media law and policy, media ethics, but also audience and reception studies, digital communication, or mediatization research, to name just a few examples. In fact, media accountability is a typically integrative concept that can help to connect the various sub-disciplines of our scientific community, including both normative and empirical approaches to media and communication research. As such, it is a highly valuable concept – and it is surprising to see that it has been ignored in our discipline for such a long time.

    Tobias Eberwein

    Do you feel this is a timely publication in terms of public debates?

    Absolutely! The current discussions about ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth politics’, the role of social bots and algorithms, as well as other disruptive influences on journalistic communication, leave no doubt that quality and responsibility of the media have – once again – turned into trending topics. As the integrity of the international media landscape is challenged by far-reaching transformations, the need for a functional system of media regulation is bigger than ever. In democratic societies, various instruments of media accountability (such as press and media councils, ombudspersons, or media journalism) assume a key role in the process of safeguarding responsible media performance. However, in the light of the aforementioned challenges, the established system of media accountability seems to be at a crossroads: on the one hand, the necessity of non-state means for holding the media responsible towards the public is largely undisputed; on the other hand, the effectiveness of such instruments as a guardian of press freedom and media plurality is often questioned – both by media practitioners and media researchers. The systematic investigation of these media accountability instruments from the perspective of the journalism cultures in Europe is the core objective of our publication.

    How was the process of the ECREA book series, and how important was it for your publication?

    The idea for this volume was conceived at a one-day pre-conference to the 6th European Communication Conference in Prague. This pre-conference brought together some of the most eminent media accountability scholars in Europe. While some of them had collaborated with us in previous projects, such as the comparative study “Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe” (MediaAcT) or our European Handbook of Media Accountability (Routledge 2018), others were newcomers to the growing international network of researchers with specific expertise in media accountability and media ethics. In the closing discussion, all conference participants emphasised the need for the future institutionalisation of media accountability research – be it in the form of further conferences and workshops, joint publications or other forms of more structured cooperation. This anthology, which contains selected papers that were presented at the ECREA pre-conference as well as additional original contributions, can be seen as a first step in the prospective process of institutionalisation. We are grateful for the opportunity to have the volume published in the renowned ECREA book series, which will hopefully increase its visibility. But we also hope that further steps will follow!

    Jelena Kleut

    Click here to order the book from the publisher.

    Click here for more on the ECREA Book Series.


    Image 1: Tobias Eberwein,

    Image 2: Susanne Fengler

    Image 3: Matthias Karmasin

  • 29.03.2019 19:37 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Report on Section Conference: ECREA Journalism Studies Conference

    Breaking Binaries: Exploring the Diverse Meanings of Journalism in Contemporary Societies

    On 14th and 15th of February 2019 the Journalism Studies Section conference was held in Vienna, convened by Folker Hanusch and his team at the Journalism Studies Center, University of Vienna. The conference was a great success with 109 registered participants. The acceptance rate for presentations was 61 percent.

    With a theme of “Breaking Binaries: Exploring the Diverse Meanings of Journalism in Contemporary Societies”, the organizers put together an interesting programme of full papers as well as high density presentations discussing how journalism studies can help to address the increasingly complex journalistic field, and to propose theoretical and empirical ways that go beyond previous, simplistic binaries that have at times defined the field. The seventeen panels touched upon various recent trends and changes in journalism, including audience interaction and engagement, innovations in and broadening perspectives on journalism, among others. The conference also included a keynote address by Karin Wahl-Jorgensen titled “Breaking boundaries: Journalism studies, emerging media ecologies and the new emotional politics”. This talk considered how emerging media ecologies, coupled with shifts in public discourse, are challenging received assumptions about journalism, and therefore also raising fundamental questions for journalism scholars. The era of angry populism, the talk suggested, has been facilitated by a confluence of circumstances linked to transformations in journalism, alongside a series of broader social, political and economic trends. These require a careful and nuanced analysis that journalism studies is well placed to offer.

    A day prior to the conference, Corinna Lauerer organized a YECREA PhD workshop, which featured PhD students presenting their work and receiving in-depth feedback from established scholars in a constructive atmosphere. The six PhD candidates that had been successful in the competitive double-blind review process addressed very timely topics ranging from personalized news, audience metrics or innovation in media labs to fake news. Special thanks go to Ester Appelgren, Leyla Dogruel, Sophie Lecheler, Marcel Broersma, Arjen van Dalen, Richard Fletcher and Folker Hanusch for preparing comprehensive responses. Following the conference, Corinna stepped down as the section’s YECREA representative due to her recent election as YECREA Vice-Chair. Sandra Banjac and Phoebe Maares (both University of Vienna) were appointed new section YECREA representatives.

    Corinna Lauerer, LMU Munich, Germany

  • 29.03.2019 14:56 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Relaunch of ECREA’s Women’s Network

    Ayşegül Kesirli, chair of Women’s Network, Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey

    Arianna Mainardi, vice-chair of Women’s Network, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

    Jolien van Keulen, vice-chair of Women’s Network, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

    Ayşegül Kesirli First of all, we want to express our gratitude for being elected as the new management team of the ECREA Women’s Network. Building on the crucial work done by the network so far, we are currently preparing to refresh and relaunch the network. One of our main goals is to increase the network’s visibility within ECREA. In this newsletter we would like to introduce our vision and plans, and invite all ECREA members to engage in setting and achieving the objectives of the Women’s Network. The Women’s Network aims to address all challenges women face in research and in higher education. Being a woman in academia has always been challenging, especially in societies with strong patriarchal traditions. Apart from difficulties relating to finding a balance between everyday routines and conducting research, women in higher education have to face gender bias in any academic setting. The first objective of the network is to create a platform for female scholars to speak up about the problems they encounter in academia and be in solidarity with colleagues around the world.

    Arianna Mainardi The ECREA Women’s Network also intends to facilitate, contribute to, and disseminate (research on) female scholarship. By bringing people together, stimulating the exchange of insights and practices, we aim to contribute to equality in all its dimensions and identify diverse practices in higher education in Europe and beyond, revealing differences, strengths, and weaknesses. Through the organisation of workshops, lectures, and panels – in close collaboration with all ECREA sections – the Women’s Network aims to function as a platform to increase the visibility and impact of female scholars within ECREA, and initiate and maintain discussions on gender inequalities in academia beyond national as well as institutional borders.

    Expanding the existing network objectives, we aim to support critical research initiatives that challenge white male perspectives on knowledge. Generally speaking, the position that not only women but also LGBTQ+ people occupy in the higher education is not neutral. Both cultural and structural conditions intervene to define, give visibility to and legitimise the competences, expertise and knowledge of female and LGBTQ+ scholars. The existing system of practices embedded in the academic context—at the level of both the labour market and organisational and cultural systems—reinforces a gender regime that has consequences in different areas.

    To achieve all these goals, the ECREA’s Women’s Network calls for support toJolien van Keulen organise events, collaborate in research projects, and generate and disseminate information about the work of female and LGBTQ+ scholars. The network aims to coordinate knowledge and initiate discussions concerning the issues within our scope through different channels including its website, Facebook page, ECREA discussion forums and ECREA events. In this way, the Women’s Network seeks to inspire future research and activities that promote gender equality in higher education in the European academic context and beyond.

    We would like to encourage all ECREA members to become a member of the Women’s Network and to engage with the network’s objectives and activities. Below you find the URLs of our website and Facebook group, as well as a link to our revised objectives to which all ECREA members are invited to comment on or contribute to, by getting in touch with us via e-mail or posting a comment on the network’s discussion forum in the ECREA Intranet until May 15, 2019. Lastly, we would like to call attention to our next event; during the conference 'Female Agency and Subjectivity in Film and Television' organised by Istanbul Bilgi University on 11-13 April 2019, the ECREA Women's Network will organise a workshop to explore the experiences of women in academia and raise awareness of inequalities. We hope to meet and inspire all ECREA members during the ECC in 2020.

    Facebook group:


    Network objectives:


    Image 1: Ayşegül Kesirli

    Images 2: Arianna Mainardi

    Images 3: Jolien van Keulen

  • 29.03.2019 14:50 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    University support to the “1 in 5 million” protest in Serbia

    In 2018 journalists' associations have registered over a hundred different attacks on media freedoms in Serbia – verbal attacks, cyber-attacks, pressure from editors, limited access to information and events. According to the 2019 Freedom House report, the status of Serbia declined from Free to Partly Free, among other things due to legal harassment and smear campaigns against independent journalists by the government and allied media. The culmination happened in December 2018 when the home of Milan Jovanović, a journalist for the local news website Žig Info, was set ablaze with a Molotov cocktail during the night. Jovanović and his wife managed to escape, but the entire house and their car burned down. A month earlier, one of the opposition party leaders was physically attacked and beaten on his way to a round table organized in the town of Kruševac. As a response the protest “Stop the Bloody Shirts” was organized on 8 December, gathering thousands of citizens on the streets of Belgrade demanding greater press freedom, political plurality, electoral reform, and new elections. Asked to comment on the demands, Aleksandar Vučić, the president of Serbia from the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, replied that protesters could walk as much as they wanted, but he would not meet a single demand even if 5 million people gathered in protest. And a new name for the protest was born - “1 in 5 million”.

    In the turbulent recent past of Serbia, protests are not a novelty. The longest ones were organized by students in 1996-1997 and they lasted for three months. The largest ones were organized on 5 October 2000 when Slobodan Milošević was overthrown from power. What marked the new protests “1 in 5 million” is a collective response from Serbian academia.

    The support first came from the University of Belgrade’s Faculty of Philosophy who addressed the public with a letter titled “105 out of 5 million”. In the letter 105 professors, researchers and assistants stated that through their scientific research of individuals, and society as a whole, they recognize many signs of dictatorship in the government’s behaviour. Among other things, they pointed out that “the foundations of modern European democracies – political, economic, and cultural freedoms, have been taken away from the citizens of Serbia, institutions and the rule of law are suspended and general welfare subordinated to personal and party interests”. In the context of political and media freedoms they noted that by using persecution in the tabloids, threats, arrests, judicial procedures and violence, they are trying to scare and humiliate the citizens of Serbia, that the government refuses to answer the questions and demands of the citizens, and its officials insult all those who dare ask questions or state different opinions. Furthermore, the letter from the Faculty of Philosophy noted that plagiarism and fake diplomas are destroying the education system, and that the new legal framework is undermining the autonomy of the university.

    Soon, other faculties of the University of Belgrade followed. The Faculty of Political Sciences, home to the largest communication scholars’ community in Serbia, highlighted the main points about the undermined political and media freedoms, while the Faculty of Law raised concerns about the accumulation of executive powers that conflict with the constitutional role of the President. The faculties from the northern and southern parts of the country, the Universities of Novi Sad and Niš, also expressed public support for the protests. The website University support to protests now includes over 1500 signatories. The protests have been evolving since 30 November 2018, spreading throughout Serbia. Organized once a week, protests have taken place in more than 50 cities so far, with new cities joining in constantly. As the protests continue, many professors took the side of citizens in marches and gatherings, or take part as speakers at the rallies in different Serbian cities.

    Ana Milojević, University of Belgrade

    Jelena Kleut, University of Novi Sad

  • 29.03.2019 12:12 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Interview with Julia Velkova, lover of hiking and outdoors

    Julia Velkova (born 1982) is a media and communications scholar and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, where she teaches and researches on aspects of datafication, algorithmic cultures, digital waste and media infrastructures. Julia is currently Vice Chair of the Media Industries and Cultural Production section of ECREA. Between 2016 and 2018 she was the YECREA representative of the section.

    What are your hobbies outside academia?

    I like sports and outdoor activities. I try to play tennis once a week, and I have engaged a little bit in orienteering since my son got interested in it. During the winter, my favourite activity is to skate on the lakes in Sweden, but this year there was too little safe ice to do it as much as I would have wanted to. During the summer I like hiking in the mountains.

    What inspired your interest in hiking?

    I grew up in Bulgaria where high mountains are everywhere. It is very common to hike there from an early age, as a family activity and later as part of youth life – it requires little planning and little budget. My parents used to bring me and my sister on hikes frequently on weekends at the Vitosha mountain near Sofia, Bulgaria. Later on I started going with friends to other mountains as well. In a sense, I grew up in an environment where hiking and mountains were a natural part of a regular week and of social activities. So, I never really had to ‘find’ inspiration for it – it was a natural part of life. This is something which I often miss in Sweden where I live and where it takes about seven-eight hours of driving from Stockholm to get to the mountains. One can go easily and spontaneously to a forest, but not a mountain. In Sweden, hiking trips require planning and preparation.

    What was the most difficult hiking trail you took? Why was it difficult?

    It was in 2006 when I went on a hiking trip on the 600km-long European trail from the Kom Peak in Serbia to Cape Emine on the Black Sea coast. The hiking trail follows the ridge of the Balkan mountains in Bulgaria through very different, picturesque landscapes. I would not have dared to do this trip alone, so I joined a group. It was a difficult hike because it required a lot of mental and physical endurance to manage walking a distance between 30 km and 60 km a day, 12-14 hours every day during a 16-day period in changing weather conditions which could vary from snow and hail to 30-degree heat depending on the altitude. I was not sure whether I would manage to finish it, but I did and it was a memorable journey. I repeated part of this hike last summer as a celebration of enduring and successfully defending my PhD. I hope to have the time and chance to hike in Slovenia in the not too distant future – the mountains there are really spectacular.

    Would you say that hiking and academic work are a good combination? Why?

    I was surprised to find out how many women in academia do hiking – it seems to be rather common. I find hiking much more pleasant and energy-boosting than, say, going to the gym. The creative energy and endurance that academic work requires can not emerge only from sitting in an office and interacting with colleagues, at least not for me. Hiking or generally, outdoor activities give me energy, and both detach me from the everyday academic work but also boost new creative ideas. I wish I could do it more often. At the moment my children are still too small to do a more ambitious hiking trip, but I am looking forward to some easy family hikes this summer in the North in Sweden.

    Has hiking ever conflicted with your academic schedule?

    Not really. Of course, it happens that I get emails with requests to submit an abstract for a conference or revisions for a journal article while on a hike, but it has always sorted itself out in the end.

    Would you recommend your hobby/hobbies to other academics?

    Yes, for sure. Hiking, ice-skating, tennis – any sort of outdoor, physical activity in fresh air and outside of the city is great!

    Jelena Kleut

  • 29.03.2019 11:51 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Interview with Cosimo Marco Scarcelli, rock climber, cyclist and a photographer

    Cosimo Marco Scarcelli (born in Trani, Italy, 1984) is professor of Sociology of Media at the University of Padova and University IUSVE of Venice, where he teaches and investigates digital media, gender, sexuality, young people and digital literacy. Cosimo Marco, but everyone calls him Marco, is chair of the Gender and Communication Section of ECREA and previously served as its vice-chair for four years.

    What are your hobbies outside academia?

    My three most important hobbies are photography, cycling and rock climbing. I started to take pictures when I was 18 years old, and I bought an analogue camera. For a while, I worked as a photographer, and I did some exhibitions. Now, it is just a hobby, but I like it! I also like to spend time (when I have it!) outside and stay in contact with nature, so I like to ride my gravel bike and go rock climbing.

    How did you start rock climbing?

    I started three years ago. I liked hiking, but I needed more adrenaline and an activity that permitted to me to focus on something cleansing, temporarily freeing the mind from everyday stress. So, I started with vie ferrate, and I liked it a lot, but it was not enough. I asked a friend to introduce me to rock climbing. I tried an artificial wall in Padova, and it was exciting, so I decided to take a rock-climbing course with a couple of friends. I learned the basic movements of climbing and overall how to ensure your safety with the wire and how to belay a lead climber—simple tips that are literally vital (for you and your partner) when you are climbing.

    What do you see as your greatest rock-climbing achievement?

    At the moment, the most important achievement is the multipitch climb I did last spring with a couple of friends on mountains in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region called Via l’Estetista e il Biottico. More than 200 meters to climb and lots of emotions. From a psychological point of view, rock climbing teaches me the importance of trusting my climbing partner and doing your best to make sure that everything is ok when you are belaying a lead climber. If you have a good partner, she/he can help you if you fail, and sometimes, she/he can save your life. And you have to be ready to do the same.

    Are there any similarities between academic work in Communication and rock climbing?

    In academic work and climbing, it is necessary to do lots of work to improve your capabilities, and sometimes, it is frustrating because you have to work hard just to see small improvements. But when you reach your goals, you are full of energy and ready for a new adventure. You need to go higher and go outside your comfort zone because you need adrenaline.

    In addition, a good climber has to combine competences from different fields: knowledge on bonds, different rocks, the environment (for example, how to read weather conditions), how to treat your partner/s to help her/him to fight her/his fear, etc. For an academic, working in communication is the same. She/he cannot stop at having knowledge about her/his specific field. She/he has to be an omnivore and take information, inspiration and knowledge from different fields and be able to combine them.

    Do you check for rock-climbing sites when planning an academic trip? Have you ever combined the two?

    Usually, I am curious, and when I plan an academic trip, I look for sites to climb. But, at the moment, I have never combined academic trips with rock climbing, but just because I do not know colleagues who like to climb.

    Would you recommend your hobby/hobbies to other academics?

    Of course! Because I am looking for academic climbers to spend some time with outside during academic trips. I think that rock climbing can be a great activity for academics because when you are on the rocks, you are focused on you, and you can forget the stressful academic life for a while. And then you can see great places and panoramas that recharge and inspire you.

    Jelena Kleut

  • 29.03.2019 11:26 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Socio-ecological effects of media (technologies) and how to deal with them

    Sigrid Kannengießer, University of Bremen, member of Digital Culture and Communication, Political Communication, Philosophy of Communication, Gender and Communication, Science and Environment Communication Section

    We are facing an ecological crisis caused by climate change. Different actors in politics, the economy and civil society (are trying to) develop strategies and means to transform society to be more sustainable. Media and communication studies mostly deal with the topics of climate change and sustainability on the levels of media content, its production and appropriation. This enables analysis of how journalists, agents of public relations and “ProdUsers” of online content are presenting climate change and sustainability, under which conditions they work, and within which networks. Furthermore, these presentations of climate change and sustainability are examined also from the audiences’ perspective, analysing how people perceive and interpret this media content.

    But only a rather small research field deals with the socio-ecological effects caused by the production, appropriation, and disposal of media (technologies). What different actors do in relation to media technologies to contribute to sustainability has not been sufficiently addressed so far. Yet, there are many initiatives in which people act on media, thus putting the media technologies themselves in the centre of their practices. By doing so they are consciously and actively seeking to transform not only the technologies but also trying to change society.

    Therefore, my argument within this opinion piece is twofold: First, as media and communication scholars we have to deal with the materiality of media (technologies) by also considering where the media devices we use and analyse come from, which socio-ecological effects they cause when they are used, and where the media apparatuses go after their disposal. Second, we have to pay attention to practices, which people develop in relation to media (technologies) to contribute to a sustainable society.

    There is a small research field that examines the processes through which media devices are produced. While the investigation of manufacturing processes of media technologies, which are mainly taking place in production facilities in Asia, Eastern Europe and Mexico, is difficult due to severe restrictions, some authors have been successful in gaining insights. They point to indecent working conditions under which people produce the fancy gadgets. These conditions not only harm the health of those involved but also the surrounding environment due to the toxic effects of the manufacturing processes.

    Furthermore, the damaging effects of the extraction processes of resources needed for the production of (digital) media technologies have been studied. In particular, the extraction of coltan in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo is a focus of research (and media discourse): people, often children, extracting the mineral are not only facing severe health problems due to their working conditions but their lives are endangered because of dangerous mines, which are mainly owned by rebel groups financing their war by selling the mineral. Moreover, the surrounding environment is being damaged too, due to deforestation and because the animals living within this region are evicted or killed.

    Another rather small research area deals with the socio-ecological effects of media appropriation, focusing on the energy which is needed not only for running media technologies when using them but also for servers in huge centres which store data and facilitate our internet use. For operating huge data farms, energy intense cooling systems are needed to cope with the heat produced by the operating servers. The main resource of the energy used by media devices in their day-to-day use as well as by the server farms is fossil energy, causing emissions which lead to climate change. Therefore, the ecological footprint of processes like mediatization, digitalization and datafication is far from being sustainable.

    A third research area deals with the ways media technologies are disposed of. Although illegal under the Basel Convention, disposed of media technologies (broken or not) are shipped from North America and Europe to big waste dumps in Africa (Agbogbloshie in Ghana) or Asia (Guiyu in China). Here, the toxic e-waste damages the heath of people trying to extract some of the still valuable resources from the disposed of apparatuses through burning them. Due to this inappropriate disposal, the surrounding environment is poisoned too.

    In communication and media studies, we have to pay more attention to these different aspects of the materiality of media technologies that cause severe socio-ecological effects during the production, appropriation and disposal of media devices. That means media and communication studies need to further recognize the need to analyse and discuss the socio-ecological effects of the meta-processes mediatization, digitalization, and datafication, and to pay attention to these effects when examining new phenomena regarding media and mediated communication. Taking these socio-ecological effects into account is not only necessary because otherwise we would not understand these comprehensive socio-cultural meta-processes and discuss the many possibilities they provide, but just as important, it is our responsibility as scholars to reveal and address the problems and negative impacts which accompany these transformations, some of them having disastrous effects on people’s lives and the environment.

    Moreover, and this is the second aspect of my argument, as media and communication scholars, we have to pay attention and analyse initiatives, on the levels of media production, media content and media appropriation, which are trying to develop new ways of dealing with the negative socio-ecological effects which I have summarized so far. There are many different actors who are aware of the socio-ecological effects of mediatization, digitalization and datafication, and who are trying to contribute to sustainability by shaping these processes to reduce the negative impacts they cause. And it is our responsibility as scholars to acknowledge these practices to not only understand what people do with media (technologies) but also to acknowledge and study people’s critical understanding of datafication, digitalization and mediatization, and to become aware of what actors are trying to improve on the basis of that criticism. The analyses of these practices will allow us to further discuss and assess how today’s media content and technologies can be used to contribute to a sustainable society.

    Faced with ecological crisis and unjust globalization processes, more and more people are changing their consumer behaviour; they buy fair trade products and/or consume fewer products in general. Media play a crucial role not only because people gain information about sustainable consumer options but also because online platforms for selling, buying or exchanging goods are made available to them through online media. At the same time, media themselves are drawn into the focus of consumption as people become increasingly aware of the socio-ecological effects of the production, consumption, and disposal of media technologies. Some people act on media to contribute to sustainability; examples can be found in the repairing of media technologies in Repair Cafés and the production of fair media devices: Repair Cafés are public events in which people come together to repair their everyday objects – media technologies being among the goods which are brought most often to these events. While some people help in the repairing process, others come with their broken devices – many being keen to learn how to repair. Many of the people involved try to prolong the lifespan of the technologies they own, to prevent the need to produce new media apparatuses and the disposal of existing ones. An example of how people try to contribute to sustainability regarding the production processes of media devices are technologies which should be produced under decent working conditions using sustainable resources, e.g. the Fairphone (a smartphone being developed and produced by the Dutch company Fairphone) and the Fairmouse (a computer mouse being developed by the German non-governmental organization NagerIT).

    The repair of media apparatuses and production of fair media technologies are practices with which people try to contribute to a sustainable society. Of course, these practices are not without any constraints or contradictions, and it is our task as scholars to critically analyse them to address these complexities. Hence, we need to take these media practices into account to not only understand what people do with media, but to fully understand how people act on media to transform society, and how media can be used to contribute to sustainability.

    Last but not least, as media and communication scholars, we also have to reflect on our own consumption of media technologies and our fascination for media innovation and ask ourselves how we can contribute to a sustainable society – not only in our research but also in our own (media) practices.

    Suggestions for further reading:

    Baldé C P, Forti V, Gray V, Kuehr R and Stegmann P (2017). The Global E-waste Monitor – 2017. Bonn/Geneva/Vienna: United Nations University, International Telecommunication Union & International Solid Waste Association.

    Gabrys, J (2011). Digital rubbish: A natural history of electronics. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.

    Kaitatzi-Whitlock, S (2015). E-waste, human-waste, inflation. In R Maxwell, J Raundalen, and N L Vestberg (eds.) Media and the ecological crisis. Milton Park/New York: Routledge, pp. 69–84.

    Kannengießer S (forthcoming). Acting on media for sustainability. In H Stephansen and E Treré (eds.) The turn to practice in media research: implications for the study of citizen- and social movement media. London et al.: Routledge.

    Kannengießer S and Kubitschko S (2017). Editorial. Acting on Media: influencing, shaping and (re)configuring the fabric of everyday life. Media and Communication. 5(3), pp. 1–4.

    Kannengießer S (2017). ‘I am not a consumer person’ – Political participation in Repair Cafés. In J Wimmer, C Wallner, R Winter, and K Oelsner (eds.) (Mis)Understanding Political Participation. Digital Practices, New Forms of Participation and the Renewal of Democracy. London et al.: Routledge, pp. 78–94.

    Kannengießer S (2016). Conceptualizing consumption-critical media practices as political participation. In L Kramp, N Carpentier, A Hepp, R Kilborn, R Kunelius, H Nieminen, T Olsson, S Tosoni, I Tomanić Trivundža, and P Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt (eds.) Politics, Civil Society and Participation. Tartu: Tartu University Press, pp. 193–207.

    Maxwell R, Raundalen J and Lager Vestberg N (eds.) (2015). Media and the Ecological Crisis. New York: Abington: Routledge.

    Maxwell R and Miller T (2012). Greening the Media. Oxford: Oxford Press.

    Velkova J (2016). Data that warms: Waste heat, infrastructural convergence and the computation traffic commodity. Big Data & Society 3(2), pp. 1-10.




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