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  • 05.12.2018 17:38 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Open Access Pragmatism? A Young Scholar Perspective on Open Access

    Anne Mollen, University of Münster, former chair of YECREA

    Open Science is becoming the standard to which we as researchers need to hold ourselves accountable. This is good news. As the Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science of 2016 articulates: “Open science has impact and has the potential to increase the quality and benefits of science by making it faster, more responsive to societal challenges, more inclusive and more accessible to new users” . In an age where scientific research increasingly runs the risk of “being denominated to mere opinions” , as Ruth Wodak just recently stated in her acceptance speech on being awarded a lifetime achievement award, a move towards openness is key. Open Access is one of the central components in this overall attempt towards making science more open. That is why, for instance, all Horizon 2020 projects are obliged to publish their peer-reviewed articles as Open Access. Also the scientific community largely embraces the idea of Open Access publications. Next to supporting the general move towards openness, researchers welcome higher citation impacts for Open Access publications compared to Closed Access publications.

    But Open Access is also a contested field. One conflict line clearly emerging is the struggle for sustainable and fair pricing models between university libraries on the one side and large publishers like Elsevier on the other. Another concerns the increasing presence of predatory publishers in the field. Their unethical publishing models make navigating the Open Access landscape a true challenge – both for senior as well as young scholars. Eventually, one conflict line predominantly concerns young scholars. Green Open Access allows scholars to publish pre-print versions of their publications in online repositories. This is a option also for young scholars. However, the Gold Open Access that many publishers offer involves paying Article Processing Charges (APCs), which can rise up to several thousands of Euros for articles, monographs or edited books. Such unsustainable financing models pose structural disadvantages for young scholars in Europe and beyond.

    While senior scholars are now encouraged to write budgets for Open Access publications into their research grant proposals, young scholars more than often do not have such resources at their disposal. Even though many university libraries offer special Open Access funds to their researchers, access to such funds is often restricted to one publication per year. And more importantly mostly researchers in Northern or Western Europe benefit from such financial forms of support. Gold Open Access therefore increases inequalities between senior and young scholars as well as between scholars across Europe when trying to make their research available. Diamond as well as Fair Open Access Models can be part of the solution. They either charge no APCs, or only if researchers have adequate financial support at their disposal.

    But young scholars are mostly working under fixed-term contracts, where constant evaluations of one’s work and one’s publications might make the difference between precarious working conditions or long-term perspectives. This uncertainty requires a certain pragmatism with regards to Open Access on behalf of young scholars. That is why even though Diamond Open Access models are the ones countering unsustainable developments in the field, young scholars would be ill advised to solely rely on them. They should not reject Green or even Gold Open Access publications altogether. Instead their publication strategies need to be diverse, equally including articles – and presumably quite a few – in highly ranked journals that might operate on a Gold Open Access model. When committees decide whom to grant that Assistant Professorship, it will most likely not be the idealistic young scholar who exclusively published in fair but also lower ranked Open Access journals.

    Open Access pragmatism should however not turn into Open Access fatalism. It remains important, especially as a young scholar, to support sustainable and fair Open Access models. In their often-precarious working conditions, this requires young scholars to get senior scholars on board. In other words: we need to raise awareness for the discriminating Open Access models that currently dominate the field. Only when senior scholars in their relatively secure positions start embracing and supporting the idea of more sustainable Open Access solutions, can the whole field enjoy the many benefits of Open Science and Open Access.

    Being faced with so many challenges when it comes to Open Access, the Young Scholars Network within ECREA (YECREA) has decided to introduce a Task Force that will provide information, guidance, assistance and a voice for young scholars when it comes to Open Access publishing. Our aim is to reduce uncertainty when choosing publishers, to raise awareness about unethical predatory publishing, to help navigating the messy Open Access landscape, but also to work towards creating opportunities for fair Open Access opportunities in the field of media and communication research in Europe. Our ambition is to get involved in shaping the field of publishing, which is currently in transition and make it move towards a more sustainable, fair, inclusive as well as accessible direction.

    Photo credit: Ifk

  • 21.06.2018 19:08 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    #AllforJan – a symbol aspiring to change Slovakia

    Only a few people remember where exactly they were months or years ago. Yet the 26th February of this year will be remembered by most Slovaks, especially journalists, for a very long time. If not for the rest of their lives. On this day, Slovakia and the whole world learned about the murder of the investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova in a small village near Galanta. People usually read these kinds of stories in detective novels, rather than experiencing them in a European Union member state. That morning, I was attending, together with my colleagues, a press conference of the Minister of Defence for the SNS (Slovak National Party) Peter Gajdos. His words about how he planned to file a criminal complaint against people he alleged were spreading false information about the possible failure of Slovakia to fulfil its obligations to NATO, did not, however, get the attention of the journalists present. Instead, horrified, they were looking at their cell phones and reading the breaking news about the death of their colleague.

    In public, but especially in the journalists’ community, there was confusion. In addition to the understandable fear, sadness and compassion, there was also a strong sense of the need for justice – not just for the murdered couple, but also for their relatives and friends. In the hours and days that followed, a strong sense of solidarity emerged – one of the most powerful moments came with the memorial event in Bratislava. At the Slovak National Uprising square, where just 25 years ago Slovaks, citizens of the then Czechoslovakia, fought for their freedom and liberation from the communist regime peacefully by jingling of keys, hundreds of people stood again. This time with candles in their hands, putting them next to the picture of the murdered couple, crying and hugging in almost complete silence.

    Already on 26th February the head of the Police Tibor Gaspar said that the Kuciak murder was apparently related to his work, the Attorney General promised to “unleash hell” if this motive were to be confirmed and the Prime Minister offered one million euros for any relevant information that would lead to the capture, criminal charges and conviction of the perpetrators of the murder. The public itself took the floor afterwards. Following the publication of the latest, unfinished text by Jan Kuciak, who revealed the connection of alleged members of the Italian mafia ‘Ndrangheta to the Slovak political elites, a civic initiative “For a Decent Slovakia” was set up and initiated mass protests in dozens of cities all over Slovakia and in the world calling for the resignation of the Minister of Interior Robert Kalinak and Prime Minister Robert Fico (both Smer-SD party). After some weeks, they did resign. The fall of the government, however, despite a coalition crisis lasting several weeks, has not happened. The status of journalists in the society or in the eyes of the law did not change either – the opposition proposals for legislative change and better protection of journalists did not find support in Parliament.

    Another serious issue for journalists in Slovakia is the lack of a relevant organisation in which they would be organised, and which would be able to protect them. Although there has been a Syndicate of Slovak journalists for years, it is far from being a respected organisation or having a decisive say in the journalistic society or public.

    Over 3 months have passed since the murders of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova. Tens of thousands of protesters in the streets are no longer seen, the government continues in its term of office and the police continue in their investigation with no publicly known result. The results, however, are gradually being brought by Kuciak’s colleagues – journalists from different, often competing media, who have now united under the #AllforJan symbol and are trying together to continue working on the cases, which the late journalist Jan Kuciak drew attention to.

    Lucia Osvaldová, Charles University in Prague, journalist for RTVS (Radio and Television of Slovakia)

  • 21.06.2018 18:55 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Interview with Hilde Van den Bulck

    Hilde Van den Bulck is Full Professor of Communication Studies at University of Antwerp, where she teaches and does research in the complementary fields of media policies and structures, focusing on public service media, and of media culture, focusing on mediated communication in celebrity culture. Hilde was Vice Chair and is currently Chair of the Communication Law and Policy section of ECREA.

    What are your hobbies outside academia?

    I try to pick hobbies that really take my mind off of work. I like getting lost in a novel, I swim and walk (no jogging, I hate jogging) to stay fit, I am a below-average motorbike rider which requires all my concentration and, after a seven-year interval, I’m back to doing stand-up comedy.

    How did you start to be involved in stand-up?

    I have always been into comedy. Then, about fifteen years ago, I took a workshop series to understand the dynamics of it. At the end, you were expected to do a three-minute routine for a ‘live audience’, which I was adamant not to but the guy running the workshop convinced me. Three years later, I was doing about a gig a week. I gave it up for a while due to work commitments. Then, last fall, I spent some time in NYC and decided to take another workshop, as I liked the challenge of doing it in a foreign language, and ended up back on stage at the Comic Strip (of Seinfeld fame) and now I am back into it.

    Are there any similarities between academic work in Communication and stand-up?

    Well, you have to invest a lot of time and energy and do a lot of writing and deleting for one good joke to survive, just like coming up with thirty potential research topics but ending up with just one that actually makes sense. Furthermore, as with research output, you’re only as good as your last performance and doing the same old material over and over again will not be tolerated for long before it affects your standing as a professional.

    Have you used any material from classes or academic world in stand-up, or vice-versa?

    No, since the purpose is to clear my head of work, I avoid jokes about academia and academics. Besides: too easy ☺

    Does or did stand-up ever conflict with your academic work? Do you have to chose?

    At some point it got picked up on by local media that thought it was ‘unusual’ to have a professor trying to be funny, which made it a little awkward as everybody started asking me about it. I gave it up when I became the Vice-Dean and later Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. I do not care about what people think of me as an individual but I did not want to jeopardize the negotiating position of the Faculty because of people not taking me seriously. Being the only female Dean was enough of a challenge without adding to that. Now that I am no longer in a managerial position, I am happy to go back to it.

    How does it, if at all, help you as Professor?

    Learning to deal with and to keep the attention of a skeptical and diverse audience has really helped me in teaching large classes in the Bachelor degree. It is also a very good way to forget about work for a bit, which was the whole point of taking it up in the first place. Switching off is probably one of the hardest things in our job, and this is one way that works for me.

    Would you recommend your hobby/hobbies to other academics?

    Even after all this time, I die a thousand times before I go on stage for a routine of just five minutes. So if you feel like you do not need the extra stress in your life, it is not for you, although I think that is part of doing something so different you forget about work altogether. And the sense of accomplishment when it went well really is the best.

    Ana Jorge

  • 21.06.2018 18:48 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Interview with John Downey

    John Downey is Professor of Comparative Media Analysis and Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University, UK. Currently, he serves ECREA as Vice-President and Sections, Temporary Working Groups and Networks co-ordinator.

    How did you start coaching a children’s football team?

    I played football competitively until about 10 years ago. When my son reached the age of 4 I started coaching him and his friends at a local football club. We started with a handful of children but now have three teams that play in the Young Elizabethan League, which is the largest youth football league in the UK. This season we won promotion and also won the cup.

    What are the challenges and responsibilities of this hobby?

    Coaching is enjoyable but far from easy. Getting the balance right between challenging the players to become better while emphasizing that playing is primarily for fun is sometimes difficult to achieve. Football is also an emotional rollercoaster both for the teams and the coaches. Creating the right team spirit and the right attitude to playing competitively is the most difficult thing at the moment.

    Does or did ever this hobby of coaching conflict with your work in university?

    We train every Wednesday evening and play on Saturdays and Sundays. There are other coaches who can step in if I’m unavailable and the parents are usually supportive.

    Do you feel it helps in any way your work as Professor? Or in what ways, if any, does it harm?

    It certainly takes my mind off my day job and stops me working at weekends, which is probably a good thing.

    Would you recommend your hobby to other academics?

    I would definitely recommend the idea of doing volunteer work with and for people who you wouldn’t usually deal with in the day job. In the UK we’re struggling to find people who are prepared to be school governors, coaches and so on.

    Ana Jorge

  • 21.06.2018 18:14 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    (Mis)Understanding Political Participation: Digital Practices, New Forms of Participation and the Renewal of Democracy

    Interview with the editors: Jeffrey Wimmer, Cornelia Wallner, Rainer Winter, and Karoline Oelsner

    Can you please present the varieties of participation discussed in the book?

    The book consists of three main sections. The first deals with the question of how citizens, and especially the so-called digital natives, engage politically in their everyday life, what possibilities they experience and how they realize them. The second tries to show the wide scope of mediated participation and its inherent complexity by taking a look at entirely different media contexts, ranging from traditional media like the press, to the special case of talk shows, or the highly contested public sphere of Twitter. The last section discusses how the emergence of online media changes the concept of political participation.

    What is the original contribution of this book?

    Going beyond established academic discourses about the decline of citizens’ political participation in institutional politics, and the rise of alternative forms of political participation, this book aims to explore the issues, the platforms, the actions, the locations, and the motivations of politically active citizens today. It discusses the opportunities and challenges that new conditions entail for the ways in which digitally mediated social interactions, practices and environments shape everyday participation, engagement or protest, and analyses their implications for politics, culture and society.

    Jeffrey Wimmer, Cornelia Wallner, Rainer Winter, Karoline Oelsner

    How do you think (Mis)Understanding Political Participation can be important for other areas of research on media and communications?

    From an analytical point of view participation is a moving target. Participation and engagement must not be confined to the political sphere. Hence, although participation and engagement can be researched as a case sui generis, it sharpens the blurred picture to contextualize political participation in the light of current processes of change, especially considering the last push of mediatisation through digitalization. Following researchers like Nico Carpentier, Peter Dahlgren or Anne Kaun, the book displays that the current preoccupation in media and communication studies with engagement and participation is characterized by a more analytically differentiated view than ever.

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

    For approximately 25 years it has been the epistemological interest of a constantly growing research area inside communication and media studies as well as pedagogy, political science and sociology, on how the new forms of participation are used and how they could be judged in comparison to the traditional forms of civic engagement and participation. The current practices of engagement and participation are currently more than ever characterized by huge ambiguities. Public participation always involves questions of power, conflict as well as (in)equality, which are addressed by our book.

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

    The book project would not have been thinkable without the ECREA being the organisational frame of reference. The idea for it was born in a conference by the Communication and Democracy Section in Munich some years ago. The fruitful discussions during and after the event led us to the idea of an anthology which tries to give a pan-European and transmedia view on current practices of participation and engagement. The call and the subsequent rigorous reviewing process helped us a lot to sharpen our overall proposal and the different chapters. On the other we hope that the book represents the transnational and interdisciplinary focus of ECREA, and especially the C&D section.

    Jelena Kleut

    Click here to order the book from the publisher.

    Click here for more on ECREA Book Series.

  • 21.06.2018 16:37 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Latest updates on the academic programme, cultural programme and local tours

    We are thrilled to announce that 886 individual papers, 155 posters and 43 panels were accepted for presentation at the 7th European Communication Conference (ECC) to be held in Lugano. We would like to thank all the reviewers and Section, Network and TWG programme chairs for all the effort they have put into the review process.

    We have received abstracts from over 60 countries spanning 5 continents and look forward to what promises to be a truly diverse and international conference.

    The ECREA 2018 main conference will be hosted in four of the most beautiful locations/venues of Lugano: Palazzo dei Congressi, Villa Ciani, Ex Asilo Ciani and Liceo Cantonale Lugano 1. All of these locations are located very close to the lake or literally on the lake, around a green area called “Parco Ciani” and thus within a few minutes’ walking distance of each other. The 9 pre-conferences will take place at the main campus of Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), also within easy walking distance.

    Participants of ECREA 2018 can register for several tours which will give them the opportunity to visit local companies and organizations relevant to the field of media and communication. For example, you might want to visit the cantonal Television studios “Radiotelevisione Svizzera Italiana (RSI)”, the headquarters of the national sound archives “Fonoteca Nazionale”, or the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre.

    Moreover, tours to different locations and sights of the beautiful Canton Ticino are offered. In the German speaking part of Switzerland, Canton Ticino is often nicknamed “Sonnenstube” (which means “sunny room”), because of its warm and sunny climate and its gorgeous and peaceful landscapes. Not only beautiful, but also rich in culture and tradition, Ticino is a much appreciated destination both for those looking for fun or relaxation, and those looking for cultural experiences. With ECREA 2018 cultural and local tours, we would like to give participants the opportunity to get a little taste of every aspect of the region. Our offer includes but is not limited to the following tours:

    • to discover Lugano, join the city tour with a professional guide who will lead you through Lugano’s most fascinating alleys and architectural highlights
    • to see more of Ticino, sign up to the tour to Bellinzona and discover a city rich in history and culture including a UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Bellinzona Castles
    • or you can visit the museum dedicated to the famous writer, Hermann Hesse, located in the house where he lived between 1919 and 1931.

    Last but not least, Ticino also offers very interesting food and wine specialties which benefit both from the Italian and the northern culinary influences. Enjoy typical dishes while

    • taking a cruise on the lake
    • or while enjoying a breath-taking view from the top of San Salvatore mountain.

    Whatever your interests, we are sure you will enjoy Ticino and all the activities it has to offer!

    You will find more details and offers in the dedicated and still evolving section ( on the ECREA 2018 conference website. Have a look from time to time to get more details and book your favorite activities.

    Looking forward to welcoming you in Lugano!

    Warm wishes,

    Gabriele Balbi, Lorenzo Cantoni, Katharina Lobinger & Petra Mazzoni
    ECREA 2018 Local Organising Committee

  • 21.06.2018 16:19 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Public statement committee – meet its members

    The ECREA Public Statement Committee’s mission is to produce statements of support or protest related to cases of violations of academic freedom and undue pressures on our members or academic communities in countries with a substantial ECREA membership. The Public Statement Committee will generally reacts to alerts coming from the membership but can also act on its own initiative. Members or Sections, Networks or Temporary Working Groups are invited to contact the Committee with alerts and proposals at Within the scope of its available resources, the Committee investigates the cases and draws up statements or endorses statements prepared by others. All statements are confirmed by and issued on behalf of the ECREA Executive Board.

    The Public Statement Committee consists of Ilija Tomanic Trivundza and Murat Akser as members of the ECREA Executive Board and Koen Leurs as a representative of S/N/TWG management teams.

    lija Tomanic Trivundza, president of ECREA


    An Associate Professor, he is a chair of Media Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he focuses on visual communication with a special focus on the social and political role of photography in contemporary mediated communication. He is also a co-editor of Membrana magazine on photography.

    I was an active volunteer for Amnesty International Slovenia for six years and also worked for the organisation for one year as office manager and fundraising officer. I was one of the founding members of Edirisa Slovenia, a Slovene outpost of the Uganda-based NGO Edirisa, which focused on educational, media and development programmes for communities living around Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda. As a rather versed petition writer, I continue to sporadically advocate social justice and protests against state censorship and institutional abuses of human rights. Recently, I have realised that with my wife, we have, at least for the time being, successfully transferred the activism bug to our older daughter. I was involved in initiating the formation of the ECREA Public Statement Committee and have collaborated on drafting previous ECREA public statements.

    Murat Akser, member of the ECREA Board

    A lecturer at the School of Arts, Ulster University, UK, he holds a Ph.D. in Communication and Culture from York University, Canada. Previously he was an associate professor of cinema and media studies at Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey where he was the head of the Department of New Media. He was also one of the members of the local organizing committee of the IAMCR 2011 Conference in Istanbul.

    I have been an active ECREA member particularly in the Communication and Democracy section. I am interested in media freedom in younger democracies such as Turkey. I have been carrying out research on the freedom of expression of journalists, citizen media, social movement media and hacktivism. My work on the subject has been published in the Middle East Journal of Communication and Culture, and New Media & Society. I took part in the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and documented media repression in Turkey since 2012. I am very vocal against abuses of media activists, journalists and academics’ freedoms both in Turkey and elsewhere (most recently I have helped and supported activists in Russia, Poland and Hungary). Given the international and democratic nature of our profession and association, I believe we have to be active in voicing the democratic media rights in oppressed media environments and condemning the wrongs of authoritarian practice by governments everywhere. I support the protection and mentoring of academics and post-graduate students from oppressed parts of the world, the creation of more collaborative projects and getting more joint publications contributed by our members.

    Koen Leurs, the chair of the Diaspora, Migration and the Media section

    An assistant professor in gender and postcolonial studies at the Graduate Gender Programme/Department of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University, the Netherlands, his research interests revolve around youth, migration, gender, diaspora and critical internet/data studies. Recently with Kevin Smets he guest edited a special issue on ‘Forced migration and digital connectivity’ for the journal Social Media + Society, and with Sandra Ponzanesi an issue on ‘Connected migrants’ for the journal Popular Communication. Together with Kevin Smets, Myria Georgiou, Saskia Witteborn and Radhika Gajjala, he is currently editing the SAGE Handbook of Media and Migration.

    Alongside setting up my own research lines, and facilitating scholars to sustain critical dialogue on diaspora, migration and the media as part of ECREA, I also would like to take seriously my role as a public intellectual. With increased standing in the community, receiving tenure and obtaining grants, I have come to realize my symbolic and institutional power have grown and I would like to mobilize this power to speak out against violations of academic freedom and oppressions of academic communities. Being trained in feminist, critical-race and postcolonial studies, I am keen to publically scrutinize how such oppressions and violations often operate along the intersecting lines of gender, race, nationality, class and religion. I am also aware of the challenges of speaking for others without appropriating their voice, and I am aware of the tensions of taking a stance and engaging in public debate, while upholding an academic ethos. In addition to speaking out in solidarity with colleagues under threat, I would also advocate ECREA to take a stance in public debates on international affairs shaped by media and communication, with the so-called European refugee crisis as an important case in point.

  • 18.06.2018 22:40 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Cambridge Analytica-Facebook revelations: why we should not be surprised, but worried

    David Mathieu, Roskilde University, Denmark; a chair of ECREA Audience and Reception Studies section

    In spite of its short life (2013-2018), Cambridge Analytica (CA) is already history. The revelations that emerged about the ways the firm was using data for political targeting surprised and shocked many. To such an extent that Zuckerberg was asked to explain himself in front of the US Senate and House of Representatives. But there are some reasons not to be surprised by what we have witnessed so far.

    The practices incriminated have been commonplace in the media industry and well documented by audience researchers for more than forty years. The commodification of the audience, that is, the collection and use of data about media audiences (now called users) for commercial purposes is far from new. What has excited imagination is perhaps the scale at which these practices now operate, also known as volume in the language of big data, to be ranged beside velocity, variety and veracity. While these four characteristics of big data analysis are what worried the members of Congress that interrogated Zuckerberg (whose charge was perhaps meant as the political equivalent of these four V’s), they also form the very discourse by which big data is promoted in business and governance.

    If we were to believe social media and journalistic barometers, the revelations of CA and subsequently of Facebook’s own practices have received a lot of interest and may have contributed to developing a glimpse of data consciousness amongst the public, a wave that is more than welcome to support the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But this sudden interest appears less surprising in the big picture. Since the advent of Web 2.0 and as commercialism took over the Internet, users have been denied the opportunity to take seriously any concerns for privacy and for ownership of their data. The social (business) order decreed by media moguls did not allow it. I suspect users understand the price they pay for using “free” media services resides in giving away their data and privacy. In the sea of what most of us repress every time we “accept” the lengthy, technical and surprisingly vague terms and conditions that we do not read (because what’s the point), the revelations of CA appeared as an occasion to manifest this latent discontent. Public discourse followed its course and did a good job in expressing this discontent.

    Now, what will follow from this scandal that can support the political space that has been opened? A recent survey conducted by IPSOS suggests that Facebook users are still relying on its services as much as before the scandal, if not more. This, in spite of the stream of posts urging to close one’s Facebook account; a campaign that was – it must be said – running on Facebook. Furthermore, while the timing of the GDPR could not be better, I doubt that this piece of regulation can tackle the issues raised by the revelations. CA was portrayed as an isolated incident and the closing of the company has allowed to create closure around it. While this particular firm has shut down, the problem remains entirely.

    To begin with, several former CA directors were appointed to a recently established data firm, Emerdata. It also seems that Zuckerberg has succeeded in arguing that matters of data and privacy concern the explicit sharing of content amongst users, and not the insidious collection of data left by our digital footprints. It seems that “enhancing user experience” will continue to be the justification served to users for what media companies do with their data. It seems that the business model on which media companies are built will go unchanged for some time to come; the same business model that keeps denying possibilities for users to take control of their data. The wheel keeps rolling, but what really worries me is the double discourse upon which big data is developing. Data is becoming a source of concern at the same rate as it is normalized and spread in all corners of public and private life. This double discourse is bound to bring further inequalities and divides in our societies. Research – not least audience research – needs to play a pro-active role in informing these developments.

  • 18.06.2018 21:48 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Data portability is the first step towards putting privacy at the heart of users’ relationships with platforms

    Sally Broughton Micova, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK; a vice-chair of the ECREA Communication Law and Policy section

    Following the revelations about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica and the likely misuse of millions of Facebook users’ personal data for political campaigns, many called for leaving the platform. As far as I can tell from my surprisingly extensive friends list, not many people left the platform, and my list contains a disproportionate number of well-informed media scholars. Perhaps the Cambridge Analytica scandal didn’t change much, but the next time something like this happens, it might.

    The reason there could be more consequences next time, is because of the data portability right enshrined in the GDPR. There is now at least more potential for competition for users on the basis of privacy. Why did so few of leave Facebook? Well, for one thing, each of us had invested photos and birthday reminders, favourite posts, etc. Article 20 of the GDPR states that we have the right to receive all the data we have given to the platform “in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format”. This is an important step towards enabling users who are not satisfied with the privacy conditions or behaviour of a platform to switch.

    The data portability right helps make switching easier because, theoretically (there are still challenges in terms of how it will be technically implemented for many platforms), one can take one’s profile, complete with contacts, connections and content to a competitor easily, and according to the GDPR, even ask the platform to transfer it all to a competitor. It is the same principle that allows us to keep our mobile telephone number when we switch providers. It is designed to reduce the lock-in effect of having all that data on one platform.

    Of course, another reason so few people actually left Facebook after this major privacy breach is that everyone is there, and there are no competitors really, other than in the Russian and Chinese language markets. The network effects of Facebook’s reach make it hard for anyone else to enter the market with a similar product. However, with all EU citizens now having the right to data portability there is potential for the kind of critical mass needed for another player. Facebook is already less popular with younger audiences who favour other platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram because of the different functionalities, but there may now be room for another player that offers similar functionality and aims to appeal to the same demographic as Facebook and targets those with privacy concerns.

    Healthy competition relies on consumers switching, having sufficient information and being easily able to do so. In these markets, being able to take your data with you is an important first step, but as Engels (2016) has argued, the consequences of data portability for competition and innovation may be complex and not necessarily lead to more innovation and new entrants to the market. Enforcement of this new right should be carefully paired with competition law (Diker Vanberg & Ünver, 2017) in order to effectively deal with situations of dominance. Facebook’s position is not likely to be easily eroded, nor does it need to be, but if large numbers of Europeans started moving to a new platform that offered better privacy protection, it might cause Facebook to up its game at least.

    Diker Vanberg, A. & Ünver, MB., (2017) "The right to data portability in the GDPR and EU competition law: odd couple or dynamic duo?", in European Journal of Law and Technology, Vol 8, No 1,

    Engels, B. (2016). “Data portability among online platforms”. Internet Policy Review, 5(2).

  • 15.03.2018 16:12 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In autumn 2017, various voices from Polish academia raised questions on changes to academic life, due to a proposed reform of the Polish law on higher education. We asked ECREA member and vice-chair of the Communication and the European Public Sphere TWG Małgorzata Winarska-Brodowska to report on the current status of the debates between Polish academia and government, and the evolution of the proposal.

    Polish reform of higher education and its impact on media and communication sciences

    In Poland, for many years, there has been a need for major changes in the way higher education functions. The starting point for reforms was the growing will of the academic community. The draft law on higher education and science has been accompanied by intense discussions. Consultations with the scientific community and inter-ministerial proceedings on the bill lasted almost two years. More than 3,300 comments have been submitted to the government. The current project is the result of long-lasting and extensive consultations. The main directions of regulation in the new draft law on universities enjoy support, as can be read in the resolution of the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (Konferencja Rektorów Akademickich Szkół Polskich (KRASP).

    The new law, also known as the Constitution for Science or Act 2.0, is to replace the four currently applicable laws: the law on higher education, the law on the principles of financing science, the law on degrees and academic title, and the law on student loans. The number of regulations, currently ca. 80, is also to be halved. The Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education would like the Act to become effective from October 1, 2018.

    The project of the Science 2.0 Act contains provisions enabling general university and vocational education to be implemented with a high participation of practitioners. Dual studies are also possible, during which the student is simultaneously studying at the university and at business institutions or companies. As Prof. Iwona Hofman, President of the Polish Communication Association (PCA - underlines, these regulations open interesting perspectives for education in media studies, which are very popular in Poland (currently, 21 public universities conduct research and teaching in this area). She explains that the development of programs based on scholarships and internships funded in media editorial offices, public relations and marketing departments will be possible. Students will be able to verify theory in practice, to implement knowledge provided during various courses taught at university in their work for professional institutions.

    One of many announced changes in the Science 2.0 Act (apart from changes concerning the functioning of universities, alterations to the academic career model, and higher education financing) is the reduction of the number of scientific disciplines, as there are a lot of them in Poland today – currently 108. After changes, there will be only 46.

    The discipline of science on media and social communication in the field of social sciences was defined in the ordinance to the Act, following the application of the OECD classification. The shared evaluation group includes, among others, sociology, economics, or management. This is the most important change for the media research community in Poland.

    The discipline of media science gained autonomy in 2011, but social communication was excluded from the list of sub-disciplines. The pragmatics of media research and education in the world assumes the combination of media and social communication paradigms, which is why it has been relatively more difficult for Polish researchers to participate in international research programmes. The new division of disciplines results from the belief in the tradition and origin of the sciences. In the case of media studies – there are the literary theory, sociology, political science and cultural studies.

    The new Act preserves the academic degrees and titles, but it assumes the possibility of employing doctors as university professors, if they have appropriate achievements. The centres with the largest research potential will run doctoral schools. In the discipline of media science and social communication, research and education are mainly carried out in the fields of media theory, media systems and media law, journalistic genres, social communication, language, public relations, political communication, and intercultural communication.

    Małgorzata Adamik-Szysiak, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, member of the Polish Communication Association (PCA)

    Małgorzata Winiarska-Brodowska, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, vice-chair of Communication of the European Public Sphere TWG


    Interview with Prof. Iwona Hofman, President of the Polish Communication Association (PCA), for more information on the PCA please see:

    Science in Poland, Polish Press Agency - Serwis Nauka w Polsce PAP,




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