13:17, Monday 16th January: One more thing

For posterity, the wonderful Jen Carlberg has supplied this report on the closing keynote of the MeCCSA conference 2017. Until next year.

Professor Barbie Zelizer, the Raymond Williams Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School, jovially thanked listeners for attending her keynote, ‘Resetting journalism in the Aftermath of Brexit and Trump’, although it represented MeCCSA’s ‘graveyard shift’.  Zelizer’s incisive remarks concerning the profound moments of crisis facing UK and US journalism, however, were far from somnolent.  Coverage of Brexit and Trump reveal not only that journalists of both nations have failed to serve the public, but also an urgent need to find critical and ‘evolving answers to what journalism is [really] for’.


Zelizer drew upon ‘history’ in her analysis, especially journalistic practices of the 1940s/1950s.   Risk-avoidance, uncritical acceptance of dogma, degradation of facts, normalisation of outrage, and the pursuit of value-free coverage pervaded Cold War journalism, and these same practices characterise the coverage of both Trump and Brexit. This is a parallel, Zelizer warns, that does not bode well.  In constructing false equivalences, qualifying its observations, and engaging in the unhelpful habits of euphemism, timidity, and deference, journalism again shrinks ‘to the smallest possible version of itself’.


Rather than cowering behind rhetoric of the ‘Anglo-American imaginary’, one long connecting US and UK journalistic practices, Zelizer charges contemporary journalists must ‘double down’ and listen actively in order to recover what was missed. After all, Zelizer warns, ‘neither Trump nor Brexit is an anomaly’, and the public’s current distaste for elite industries includes journalism.

13:12, Panel 6D: Unreported world

PhD researcher Ganzi Muhanguzi has picked up on Dr Chris Patterson’s claim of an unprecedented build-up of US military in Africa. Politics in the USA is dominating UK news at the moment, so vital to hear what is not being reported and to consider why.

10:03, Report on Paul Gilroy’s keynote

Many thanks to University of Leeds PhD researcher Jennifer Carlberg for this summary of Professor Paul Gilroy’s keynote from yesterday evening.

One would be hard pressed to select a favorite from amongst the many worthwhile points probed by Professor Paul Gilroy’s provocative keynote, ‘The old new racism and the new old nationalism:  melancholia and prospective nostalgia’.  Yet his use of a snippet featuring Cheryl Cole at Camp Bastian as a means of illustrating the ‘growing militarization of our media environment‘ could indeed find its way to the short list.

Tonight, Gilroy exhorted listeners to refocus their attentions upon the ways in which neoliberal capitalism has impacted upon struggles of race and gender—for instance, by transforming politics into types of commoditized expertise, like ‘diversity management’.

Observing that no member of contemporary society wants to be associated with racism, Gilroy suggested that the disappearance of ‘racists’ must nonetheless be accounted for—especially when racist rhetoric can be so easily recast as seemingly commonsense fixations, like security.

Gilroy observed that the military-entertainment complex has allied itself with an anti-Islamic sentiment, such that ‘Muslim’ now serves as a quasi-racial category.

And though important, Gilroy does not feel that thinking only about affect will be enough to rectify the contemporary situation.  Both permanent warfare and climate change have inspired vast movements of people to Europe.

Near closing, Gilroy admitted: ‘I’m a dreamer, and I think our job is to imagine a better set of possibilities in this world’.  This task is one that requires Gilroy’s constant experimentation with the ‘banality of good’, especially when managing the influx of refugees that come out of the water.