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[Commlist] Call for Paper Proposals: RIPE@2020 - Public Service Media's Contribution to Society
Thu Feb 20 20:45:17 GMT 2020
* 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
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
(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
(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 https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=ripe2020. To do so,
you need an "Easy Chair" login. If you do not have one yet, you can
Please enter the following information into the online submission form:
- the name(s), e-mail-address(es), location(s) and organization(s) of
- 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
2. Conceptual and analytic quality as well as theoretical foundation.
3. Clarification of methodology if the paper will report on empirical
4. Relevance to PSM management and practice.
5. Generalizability of insights and findings.
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
Maria Michalis (Westminster University, London)
Marko Milosavljević (University of Ljubljana)
Julia Pohle (WZB Berlin Social Science Center)
Manuel Puppis (University of Fribourg)
Roberto Suárez Candel (European Broadcasting Union)
Hilde Van den Bulck (Drexel University, Philadelphia)
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