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Call for Conference: Eyewitness Textures: User Generated Content & News Coverage in the 21st Century

23.01.2019 20:06 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

May 23-24, 2019

MacEwan University (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Extended Deadline: January 30, 2019

Among the many changes introduced by new media technologies to news practices, the growing utilization of User Generated Content (UGC) is one of the most challenging. Members of the public are capturing dramatic events around the world and then sharing them, not only on social media platforms, but with professional news media organizations which are eagerly incorporating posts, tweets and images into professionally produced news stories. The presence of amateur content in news discourses is a growing phenomenon that is reshaping the profession of journalism, news coverage and public expectations.

The issues raised by these practices often involve tensions between labour precarity and professionalism, entertainment and evidence, centralized and decentralized management of news rooms, traditional and emerging forms of social media news narratives, truth and immediacy.

The symposium will bring together scholars and practitioners to share ideas and experiences in connection with the utilization of UGC in professional news coverage.

Keynote Speakers

The keynote speaker on May 23 will be Dr. Lilie Chouliaraki, Professor of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her main research interest lies in the histories and challenges of mediated suffering. She is the recipient of three international awards for her publications, more recently the Outstanding Book of the Year award of the International Communication Association (ICA 2015, for ‘The Ironic Spectator’). Dr. Chouliaraki’s work has focused on three domains in which the human body-in-need appears as a problem of communication: i) disaster news, ii) humanitarian campaigns & celebrity advocacy, iii) war & conflict reporting. She has published extensively on how digital platforms and genres (twitter, mobile phone footage, selfies) are fundamentally changing conflict reporting and the witnessing of war today. Her book on the topic, entitled ‘Witnesisng without responsibility. Digital testimonies from conflict zones’ is forthcoming in Columbia University Press. Her work has been published in French, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Danish, Greek and (currently) in Chinese.

The keynote speaker on May 24 will be Dr. Mette Mortensen, Associate Professor of media studies at the University of Copenhagen and a CARGC Faculty Fellow at the Annenberg School of Communication.

She is the Principal Investigator of the large, collective research project “Images of Conflict, Conflicting Images” (2017-2021). She is the author or editor of seven books, including the monograph Eyewitness Images and Journalism: Digital Media, Participation, and Conflict (Routledge 2015). She has published articles in international journals such as Journalism Practice, Information, Communication & Society, Media, Culture & Society, and International Journal of Cultural Studies. Moreover, she is a member of the editorial collective of Northern Lights: Yearbook of Film and Media Studies and serves on several editorial boards of book series.

Invited Participants

Among the invited talks will be presentations from Derek Thomson, Editor-in-Chief of the Observer Program from France24; Padraic Ryan, Senior Journalist, Storyful; Derek Bowler, Head of Social Newsgathering, Eurovision News Exchange; Paul Moore, Executive Producer of News, CBC Edmonton; and Natalie Miller, Assistant Editor at the BBC UGC Hub.

Call for Papers

We invite scholars to submit abstracts exploring one or more of the following themes:

1. How is the use of UGC reorganizing professional practices?

  • User generated content and professionalism in news rooms
  • Role and significance of verification in news production
  • The problems of fake news when working with UGC
  • The growing shift of UGC onto private networks: threats and opportunities
  • The challenge and opportunities of new technologies for professional news rooms

2. How is UGC transforming labour practices among journalists and the structural organization of news media?

  • Changing labour practices in the newsroom
  • Changing structures, staffing and organization of news desks
  • Organizational changes and emerging business models
  • Emerging forms of produsers and precarious labour
  • Professional labour vis-à-vis labour of love

3. How is UGC influencing the construction of meaning in news coverage?

  • The impact of user produced content on the form and aesthetic of visual news
  • Role of contextualization in UGC verification services
  • The influence of non-professional producers on news narratives, framing and agendas

4. What are emerging themes and tensions in non-professional practices of production?

  • Emerging motivations for creating UGC news content
  • Emerging practices and conventions for UGC production
  • Precarity and risk in UGC production

5. What are the theoretical, methodological and historical considerations helping to understand and explain the growing use of UGC in professional news coverage?

Other topics related to the above themes are welcome.

A selection of papers from the Symposium will be invited to participate in an edited collection published by a university press.


Abstracts (300-500 words, including references) should be emailed to the convenors by Jan 30, 2019 clearly identified by “UGC 2019” in the subject line. Email:

Conference fees

$75 (CDN). This includes lunch on May 24, a cocktail / dinatoire reception after the Keynote Talks, and coffee / pastries during breaks.


Rooms have been reserved with campus housing ranging from $79 (Summer Suite) to $129 (Boutique Hotel Room). For more information contact Guest Accommodation Services directly.

For more information, got to the symposium website or contact Michael Lithgow at:

Symposium Committee

  • Dr. Michael Lithgow, Assistant Professor, Athabasca University (Edmonton, Canada)
  • Dr. Michèle Martin, Professor Emerita, Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada)
  • Dr. Arnaud Mercier, Professeur, Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris, France)
  • Dr. Lucille Mazo, Professor, McKewan University (Edmonton, Canada)



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