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[ecrea] Closing the gap in representation: public service and activism for the democratization of the media
Mon Jan 09 23:01:37 GMT 2017
*International Congress: **Closing the gap in representation: public
service and activism for the democratization of the media*
*16-17 March 2017. Faculty of Communication. Seville University*
Organized by R+D Project “Relationship dynamics in the face of social
change: contexts, content, producers, audiences, and produsers in the
news programmes of TVE and YLE”. Main Researchers: M. Á. Vázquez Medel
and M. Lamuedra Graván
*CALL FOR PAPERS*
Our system of representation of the popular will – political and media –
is currently undergoing movements, recalling the shift of tectonic
plates, which are generating earthquakes and rifts. Specifically, the
value of journalism as a space for mediation between citizens and their
representatives – and for highlighting agreements and disagreements – is
called into question when the media distance themselves from the general
public interest. This telling divide has grown wider, leading to a
deluge of cases of disjunction between the popular will ‘represented’ in
the media and that evinced afterwards in the ballot box. The profound
changes in the political consensuses that have predominated for decades
and the resulting tendency towards polarization ought to be understood
as part of the very process of crisis of the current model of social
organization and representation.
Taking countries like Spain and the USA as examples, it can be observed
that the credibility of their media systems has plummeted over the last
few decades (see Kovack & Rosenstiel, 2003; Informes Digital News, 2016;
and Valera, 2016). In the case of the USA, the support that Hillary
Clinton was lent by the media – regarded as the champions of the status
quo – seems to have scuttled her election campaign. In the UK, a country
in which the phone-hacking scandal involving The News of the World and
the subsequent parliamentary investigation into the issue have raised
public awareness about the need to democratize media power, the aversion
shown by most of the media to Brexit was incapable of tipping the
balance. As to Spain, a recent study (Mateos & Lamuedra, 2016) has
revealed a greater and more qualified demand by citizens for quality
journalism, who, after the 2011 protests, focused their demands for
change directly on the political, media, and trade union divide. In the
three aforementioned countries, there are social agents, such as
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), the Media Reform Coalition,
Foro de Asociaciones de Periodistas, REMC, and Teledetodos, which have
redoubled their efforts to reform the media system; in all three cases,
political and media polarization is a burgeoning or deep-rooted problem.
Social, political, academic, and journalistic awareness of the strategic
role played in democracy by the mass media, in general, and journalism,
in particular, has been heightened over the past few years. In such
processes, those associations or platforms that could be called
‘Activists for the Democratization of the Media’ have stepped up their
efforts, calling for a reform of the media system in order that it may
serve the purposes of democracy. In this context, the public media
appear, as a fundamental variable, as part and parcel of the problem
and/or solution: on the one hand, they are the focus of attention of
activists; and, on the other, a powerful tool for dealing with the
contradictions confronting our political systems. In those countries
where public service journalism is well established current affairs
receive better coverage, there are higher turnout rates at elections,
and a greater involvement in politics, as well as a lesser degree of
far-right extremism (Nielsen et al, 2016: 21-54) and, therefore, social
The aim of this CFP is to put the spotlight on the relationship existing
between several factors:
(1) The current state of affairs as regards the mass media and the
credibility/legitimacy crisis affecting them.
(2) The relationship between the mass media and the socio-political
changes occurring on an international level: the rejection of the
neoliberal status quo, channelled through social protests since 2011,
and now increasing more through movements for regeneration emerging from
the left and the xenophobic right.
(3) The relationship between: the (a) political divide, (b) media
divide, (c) enhanced public awareness of the mass media’s role, and (d)
activism for media democratization of the media.
(4) The way in which these factors of change are generating a more
polarized media system (Hallin & Mancini, 2004).
(5) The role played by public media companies in producing, bridging, or
reformulating the aforementioned gap between political and media
Within the proposed framework of this CFP, the following issues are of
• The discourses of citizens and media professionals, above all those
working in the public media sector, on what journalism is and should
strive to be and on its credibility and capacity to influence democracy.
• The role, challenges, and case studies of the ‘Activists for the
Democratization of the Media’.
• The role, challenges, and case studies of public media systems as
regards the gap in representation.
• Aspects that allow us to revise the theses of Hallin and Mancini on
the characteristics of the different media systems and the place the
public media ought to occupy within them.
• The list of variables inherent to the mass media, such as their
ownership structure, values, and work routines.
• The notion of public service held by professional journalists in their
training, work culture, and institutional framework.
• The impact of the digital environment on the demand for social,
political, and legislative change.
• The origin – or origins – of the transfers and mergers between the
political, economic, and media powers.
• The role of public service journalism in the face of increasing
information consumption on social networks, with the renewed relevance
of both the documentary genres with a journalistic approach or video
activism and the spreading of rumours and simulations.
• The evolution of public awareness of the need for public service
journalism and a democracy-centric media design: the influence of
Negredo S., Vara-Miguel, A. & Amoedo, A. (2016) Digital News Report ES.
Newman, N., with Fletcher, R., Levy D. & Nielsen, R.K. (2016) Digital
News Report USA. Reuters, Institute for Study of Journalism. Available
Nielsen, R.K., Fletcher, R. Seehl, A. & Levi, D. (2016) “Analysis of the
Relation Between and Impact of Public Service Media and Private Media”.
Reuters Institute for Study of Journalism.
Hallin, D. & Mancini, P. (2004) “Comparing Media Systems”. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press MacIntyre. Alasdair (1981), After Virtue: a
study in moral theory. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd.
Kovach, B. & Rosenstiel, T. Los elementos del Periodismo. Madrid:
Mateos, C. & Lamuedra, M. (2016) “La televisión pública desde el
imaginario social”. Congreso Iberoamericano de Comunicación.
“Comunicación, Cultura y Cooperación”. Madrid 4-8 July 2016. Madrid.
Valera, S. (2016) “Quiebra total del sistema de medios español:
requisitos para sobrevivir en el nuevo ecosistema”. Cuadernos de
Periodistas”. Available at
*/The authors of the selected papers will be invited to publish them in
the 2017 monographic number of IC, Revista Científica de Información y
Comunicación. IC is indexed in SCOPUS and in Thomson Reuters’ “Emerging
Sources Citation Index”. If you would like to participate, please send a
titled abstract (max. 700 words), with the name of the author and five
keywords to: (mlamuedra /at/ us.es)./*
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