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[Commlist] ICA Preconference: Whose News is It?

Wed Jan 03 18:18:49 GMT 2024

*Whose News is It? Assessing the Role and Influence of International Media Assistance in Defining the News Agenda*

*Call for papers*

This preconference explores "International Media Assistance Influence on the News Agenda" on a global scale. We seek to debate the question, "Whose news is it?", fostering deeper understanding of the nature and role of foreign media assistance. We hope to attract researchers and practitioners to construct a more comprehensive framework for critical analysis and empirical examination of media funding and its implications. Ultimately, the goal is to exchange and disseminate research illuminating the multifaceted aspects of foreign media funding from an interdisciplinary perspective.

A significant portion of global international development assistance has been dedicated to enhancing the capacity of societies to deliver news and investigative journalism. This aid and investment has sought to foster journalism in often hostile environments where governance and economic conditions create barriers to the existence and operation of independent media. Over the years, media assistance programs have allocated substantial resources to support media organizations and individual journalists operating in diverse countries (Requejo Alemán 2011, 2013). This backing has played a crucial role in filling the void left by traditional journalism business models, primarily rooted in analogue environments reliant on advertising which has massively declined. A report by the Centre for International Media Assistance in 2018 estimated that approximately $600 million annually is directed towards media development in Africa, coming from both state and private donors (CIMA 2022). One could argue that this figure might even be higher, considering the undisclosed amounts spent by China on global media operations and training.

In recent years, funders and researchers have increasingly collaborated to evaluate the impact of media development assistance (Becker et al. 2019; Benequista et al. 2022). Meanwhile, some scholars have delved into how the influx of foreign funding affects the development of an independent media sector in the Global South (Paterson, Gadzekpo, and Wasserman 2018) and how foundation funding influences the "boundaries of journalism" (Wright, et al, 2019). Notably, China has made substantial investments in the development and influence of media in Africa and Latin America, channelling resources into media infrastructure and training (Kalathil 2017; Myers, Dietz, and Frère 2014). Furthermore, other nation-states and media corporations like Google, along with private foundations, have directed resources into journalism initiatives. Despite comprehensive criticism of media assistance, many argue that investigative journalism in numerous regions around the world would cease to exist without the foreign support it receives, even as they express concerns about maintaining colonial dependencies, neo-imperialism, and alignment with donor priorities (Requejo-Alemán and Lugo-Ocando 2014; Wright, Scott, and Bunce 2019).

While extensive research has been conducted on the impacts and influences of foreign assistance on media in Africa (e.g., Wasserman and Madrid-Morales, 2018), Latin America (e.g., Morales and Menechelli, 2022), and the Arab World (e.g., Bebawi, 2016), the growing role of the Asia-Pacific region as a site of East-West tension calls for exploration of foreign journalism funding in this area. This region has increasingly become a battleground for geopolitical struggles where all participants aim to project soft power and influence. The objectives and outcomes of media development aid have been examined in special issues (Higgins, 2015; Paterson et al, 2018; Olmedo Salar & Lugo-Ocando. 2018) and in various books (Becker, et al, 2019; Lugo-Ocando, 2020), and are the focus of an IAMCR working group.

With this context in mind, this call for papers seeks to inspire discussions and identify the fundamental elements and issues that define the role of media assistance and account for its role, nature, and influences. The potential outcomes include the creation of a journal special edition featuring papers presented at the pre-conference, and/or the development of an edited book. Acceptance into the preconference does not determine acceptance into any subsequent publication.

Those interested in submitting abstracts should draw from, though not be limited to, these questions and issues:

  * What is the current state of media assistance in the Global South?
  * Is media assistance in the Asia-Pacific still relevant in the
    post-Cold War era?
  * Who are the primary donors and recipients of media assistance?
  * How does media assistance influence news agendas?
  * What distinctions exist in the goals and outcomes of private versus
    public media assistance?
  * Is media assistance a form of media co-option?
  * What is the relationship between media assistance, soft power, and
    geopolitical or ideological conflicts?
  * How is the reporting of climate change and other global crisis
    affected by donor funding?
  * In which ways is (covert) media assistance framed and articulated?
  * How can media assistance be mobilised to engage and bolster the full
    spectrum alternative voices at the margins?
  * What are the historical contexts of media assistance programs and
    the issues they address?

Please send a 300-word abstract to (C.Paterson /at/ <mailto:(C.Paterson /at/> and (Saba.Bebawi /at/ <mailto:(Saba.Bebawi /at/> by midnight GMT on 15 January 2024. Decisions will be communicated by 15 February 2024.

This preconference will take place Thursday, 20 June from 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre (GCCEC). Registration details will be posted at

Hosted by the /Global Communication and Social Change/ division of ICA and organised by:

Susan Abbott, Saba Bebawi, Jairo Lugo-Ocando, Winston Mano, viola milton, Pablo Morales, Chris Paterson, Herman Wasserman

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