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[Commlist] Call for Papers: RIPE@2020 - Public Service Media’s Contribution to Society
Mon Sep 30 17:52:13 GMT 2019
2020 Conference of the International Association of Public Media
Researchers / RIPE@2020
October 28-30, 2020, in Geneva (Switzerland)
Call for Paper Proposals
“Public Service Media’s Contribution to Society”
2020 is an exciting year for public media research: The RIPE initiative
is transforming into the International Association of Public Media
Researchers and the tenth biennial conference jointly organized by the
University of Fribourg’s Department of Communication and Media Research
(DCM) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) will take place on the
premises of EBU’s Geneva headquarters. The conference will offer an
opportunity for celebrating RIPE’s legacy and the 70th anniversary of
Public Service Media (PSM) organizations across Europe and beyond are
increasingly under pressure. Due to digitization, media use is changing
rapidly, with streaming services and online platforms gaining in
importance and making it harder for legacy media to hold their ground.
This affects both public and private media. With users and advertising
shifting to search engines and social networks, the business model of
newspaper publishers is also under pressure, which, in turn, leads to
disagreement about PSM’s online activities. In addition, many
policy-makers are highly critical of PSM due to a belief in the
efficiency of market solutions or – especially in the case of right-wing
populist parties – for political reasons. As a result, both PSM’s role
in a digital environment and its funding are under scrutiny. PSM seem to
be constantly in the position of having to defend themselves. Following
attempts at demonstrating the “public value” of PSM, the discussion is
now turning towards the concept of PSM’s “contribution to society”.
Communication and media scholars need to critically discuss the
analytical value and the usefulness of new concepts that are circulated
in industry and policy-making. The 2020 conference of the International
Association of Public Media Researchers / RIPE@2020 thus focuses on the
concept of contribution to society.
Presumably, it is uncontroversial to claim that PSM need to make a
particular contribution to society in order to have a continuous reason
to exist in media landscapes characterized by competition and abundance.
And it should also be self-evident that PSM’s contribution should be
distinct and distinctive from what private media and online platforms
(e.g. social media) offer. However, beyond these general statements the
concept of contribution to society raises the important question of
which contributions to which society. After all, society is changing.
Research has focused on a number of trends like transnationalization,
neo-liberalization, digitization or individualization that deeply affect
modern societies. Audiences in different media systems are not only
confronted with more media products than ever before and can become
involved in production themselves but are also less homogenous or
monolithic than they were in the past. These trends thus radically alter
the relationship between professional media organizations and citizens.
Moreover, they challenge the notion of an all-encompassing public
sphere, nurturing new ideas like, for instance, of a network of public
Consequently, it is necessary to rethink the role of media organizations
in general and PSM in particular in a more fragmented society. On the
one hand, this involves refining the societal contribution of public
service. Starting from the notion that PSM should, as McQuail (2010, p.
178) put it, “serve the public interest by meeting the important
communication needs of society and its citizens”, these needs (e.g.,
contribution to democratic governance and culture, production of
information and knowledge, cohesion and integration, or progress) and
the ways PSM can address these needs in unique ways other media cannot
have to be identified. On the other hand, it is also necessary to
modernize the ways in which PSM provide their contribution to society.
Beyond producing content for all kinds of distribution channels,
platforms and usage scenarios (ranging from the living room to mobile
consumption), PSM have the chance to involve citizens in production and
to evolve the ways in which their content reaches audiences (e.g.,
personalization based on algorithms). Moreover, it is necessary to
discuss how the contribution of PSM to society can be measured.
In order to be meaningful for society and to have an effect on PSM
organizations, “contribution to society” needs to be more than just an
instrument of legitimacy management by organizations under pressure.
While communicating the many valuable contributions of PSM is important,
the task at hand is not solving a communication problem. The concept is
useless if it is limited to the question of how to better sell the
contribution of PSM to citizens instead of guaranteeing that PSM
actually serves the public interest and makes a contribution worth
paying for and talking about. Seen in this light, critically analyzing
the concept of “contribution to society” is not only a worthwhile task
for communication and media scholars but also a meaningful undertaking
for the future of PSM.
Topics of Working Groups
Scholars from various research fields of media and communication as well
as from neighboring disciplines are invited to submit abstracts for both
conceptual and empirical contributions addressing one or more of the
following topics. The topics will comprise the working group structure
for this conference.
(1) Communication Needs of Changing Societies Starting from the idea
that PSM should meet the communication needs of society and its
citizens, societal change raises the question of which contributions are
necessary today in order to meet these needs. Societies are more diverse
than in the past; many democracies witness the ascent of populist
parties and illiberal leaders; the amount of media content available to
citizens is bigger than ever; the commercialization and concentration of
media is uninhibited; platforms and streaming services gain in
importance with respect to media use. In light of these changes, it is
necessary to rethink the contribution of PSM. What role can PSM play in
restoring the trustworthiness of media and institutions? How can PSM
mediate between societal groups and integrate societies that are
drifting apart? How do PSM contribute to political participation,
culture life, and the realization of individuals’ full potential? And
how can we measure the impact of PSM and its contribution to society? We
invite paper proposals that deal with the contribution of PSM in
changing societies, how this contribution needs to adapt, and how it
differs from the performance of commercial media.
(2) New Forms of Contribution and Distinctiveness In order to be able to
make a contribution to society and generate positive externalities, the
content produced by PSM need to reach citizens in the first place. In
today’s media landscapes characterized by a plethora of broadcasting
channels and online services this is not necessarily the case anymore.
Hence, producing content for linear channels and offering these
broadcasts on demand is not sufficient. Many PSM invest in web-only
content that they also make available via third-party platforms like
Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or TikTok. And gradually, there is an
understanding that “the” internet is not simply an additional
distribution channel but allows for a personalization of content using
algorithms. However, private media show little enthusiasm for these new
forms of content provision by PSM and worry about market distortion.
Which possibilities exist for PSM to reach audiences in a digital
environment? What could a public service algorithm look like? And how
should public and private media co-exist and/or collaborate in the
online world? We invite paper proposals that deal with new forms of
contribution, the distinctiveness of PSM, its relationship to and
possibilities for collaboration with private media and platforms, and
the shift from broadcasting to a personalized streaming service.
(3) Involving Citizens, Building Communities Digitization fundamentally
alters the relationship between media organizations and citizens. This
change poses a huge challenge for all media organizations. Whereas in
the past audiences only mattered when measuring media use, now there is
a need to adjust media production: journalism needs to become more
dialogic in nature as instant feedback and criticism is now possible;
and users can contribute to reporting in various ways, e.g. as
informants or via crowdsourcing. Yet beyond media production, the
changed relationship to their audience also offers an opportunity for
PSM to really become a media organization of the people, by the people
and for the people. What possibilities are there to involve citizens in
decision-making within PSM or to engage in dialogue that informs
decision-making? How can PSM build a community among their users that
also strengthens their legitimacy? And how does PSM matter in
individuals’ lives in ways that metrics of audience research cannot
capture? We invite paper proposals that deal with the importance of
audiences for PSM, the involvement of citizens within PSM, and ways to
reinvigorate the rooting of PSM in society.
(4) Governance, Communication and Legitimacy Management Recent reforms
of media policy have also led to stricter regulation of PSM. On the one
hand, in many countries the remit of PSM – especially with respect to
online activities – has been defined more firmly and new services
require public value tests. On the other hand, while still having better
conditions than private media struck by crisis, PSM are expected to be
more efficient or confronted with considerable budget cuts. Like other
media organizations PSM respond to regulatory pressure and try to
influence policy-making in their own interest. Concepts like
“contribution to society” thus also can be seen as a strategic
instrument of legitimacy management to deal with expectations of
stakeholders. Is the concept of contribution an empty PR tool or is it
inducing real change within PSM organizations? How does the interplay
between policy-makers and PSM work in practice? And what role can
communication scholars play in critically accompanying the change of
media policy, PSM organizations and their contribution to society? We
invite paper proposals that scrutinize the concept of contribution,
focus on the politics of media policy, and the role of communication in
the governance of PSM.
Paper proposals may be submitted via “Easy Chair” at
login. If you do not have one yet, you can create one.
Please enter the following information into the online submission form:
* the name(s), e-mail-address(es), location(s) and organization(s) of
the author(s); * the paper’s working title; * an extended abstract (max.
750 words) explaining the main messages of the paper and how it
contributes to the conference theme; * 3-5 keywords; * the two working
group topics the paper is most closely related to.
Additionally, the abstract needs to be uploaded as a Microsoft Word
file. Please make sure that your Word file is anonymized and does not
contain any indication of the author(s) either in the text or in meta data.
All submissions will be peer-reviewed (double-blind) by a scientific
committee. The evaluation criteria are: 1. Relevance to the conference
theme and fit with one of the working group topics. 2. Conceptual and
analytic quality as well as theoretical foundation. 3. Clarification of
methodology if the paper will report on empirical research. 4. Relevance
to PSM management and practice. 5. Generalizability of insights and
Empirical research is highly valued, but we also welcome insightful
philosophical, critical and theory-driven papers.
RIPE conferences focus on substance, dialogue and results. We therefore
limit acceptance to about 60 papers. Each paper is assigned to a working
group. At best we assign 9-12 papers to each group so that every paper
has sufficient time for presentation and, most importantly, discussion.
Submissions are due February 29, 2020.
Decisions on acceptance will be announced on April 15, 2020.
Full papers need to be submitted by September 1, 2020 via “Easy Chair”
The conference takes place over two and a half days, starting late on a
Wednesday morning and ending on Friday around noon. The conference
language is English.
The International Association of Public Media Researchers plans to
publish a selection of the papers in a peer-reviewed book handled by
More information about the International Association of Public Media
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