emma successfully represented at the Media Industries Conference at King’s College in London
As we are approaching our upcoming emma conference in Warsaw, we look back at emma’s successful involvement at the Media Industries Conference in London in April, initiated and hosted by King’s College (https://media-industries.org).
The Media Industries conference marked the first time that various academic associations for scholars who research media industries joined forces to organize an event to talk about current debates and future directions. emma’s Deputy President Tom Evens represented the Association on the Advisory Committee of this conference.
emma’s President Ulrike Rohn was an invited plenary speaker, sharing the podium with Jennifer Holt, Alisa Perren, Ramon Lobato, and David Hesmondhalgh in a session chaired by Paul McDonald. In her speech, Rohn said that the media management perspective is not sufficiently taken into account in academic writings and discourse in the field of media industries studies. While pointing to room for improvement in media management scholarship, she clearly highlighted the unique and important contribution that such scholarship can make.
With almost 300 participants from around the world, the Media Industries Conference was a huge success, and we are looking forward to the next one in 2020, also in London.
This was the speech by emma President Ulrike Rohn:
Our plenary chair, Paul McDonald, gave us two questions in preparation for this session. The first was: “Why do you think is there a growth in studies on media industries?”
Well, media industries are undergoing tremendous changes, and changes spark research questions. Luckily, we all understand that we need to study these changes because the media plays an important role in society.
Not only do we have more research questions, but the questions we have also invite new approaches and methodology. Plus, understanding the production side of the media and industry practices in the media is increasingly relevant to scholarship that traditionally has not been so interested in the field, such as participation and audience studies, and studies on media literacy. At the same time, production and industry studies are also increasingly interested in those areas.
As the processes of production change, and boundaries between different media industries, as well as between text, production, and audience blur, the related research questions no longer fall within the exclusive domain of individual, disconnected scholarly fields. The initiative behind this conference, and the great response in terms of the number of participants, shows the need for a transdisciplinary approach to the study of media industries.
When asked what current work I find most valuable—and this was the second question Paul had asked us to prepare—I don’t want to point to and single out a particular research question. Any research that helps us to better understand and promote sustainable, reliable, diverse, and fair media is important and needed. Instead, I want to point out that it is important that research on media industries not be conducted in parallel, disconnected tracks. It is important that we have an exchange of knowledge between different disciplines and scholarships.
As President of the European Media Management Association, I am particularly interested in ensuring that media management scholarship is part of that exchange. However, not so many scholars from the otherwise very active and vibrant media management community are here at the conference. I see many reasons for this.
Media management scholarship is, in fact, an interdisciplinary field itself. It is not, as many may think, a mere sub-branch of management studies that takes media industries as a case study. Good media management scholarship bridges the management studies with the media and communication studies. The flagship journal of the European Media Management Association, the Journal of Media Business Studies, for instance, ranks high among business and management as well as communication and media journals. This interdisciplinary approach may seem challenging enough on its own, so media management scholars often stay in their own interdisciplinary context and do not look for further connections outside their field.
This, however, is slowly changing. There is a growing awareness among media management scholars that their scholarship needs to connect with research that is more prominent under the headline of media industries studies and, in particular, that it needs to connect to more critical approaches. As a side note, Bjørn von Rimscha and I just launched a book series with Springer, the Springer Series in Media Industries, which aims at bringing together the various approaches.
In this context, I am very happy that the European Media Management Association was invited to contribute to this conference. And I am certain that the number of participants from the media management community will increase every time this conference takes place from now on.
When we look at the other perspective, i.e., the perspective of including media management scholarship within media industry studies, then we see that the reputation of media management scholarship is often that it lacks theory, is merely descriptive, is uncritical, and is targeted to the industry. This may be true for some of the output, and even this perspective has its legitimacy. But there is an increasing tendency toward more theory-driven, reflective, and critical media scholarship.
It is important that scholars both outside and inside the media management research community see that media management can make an important contribution to media industries studies. What is this contribution?
Media management scholarship helps us to understand transformation processes and changes in the media industry by including the perspective of those whose decisions are influenced by these changes and whose decisions cause these changes. Some questions of interest are: What do media firms do? What are their behavioral alternatives? What influences their behavior? What does not influence their behavior? How do they understand their audiences? What makes them create and provide diverse content?
Much of the research in media management uses media managers as a source of information, because these are the ones who are close to the changes and the latest developments in the industry. They are much closer to the industry than academics usually are. Though close to the industry as a source of information, critical media management also identifies questionable decisions and structures and questionable power constellations, and points to shortcomings and best practices in terms of social responsible leadership and strategic decision-making. Media management that helps understand decision-making and that points to the special business dynamics of the media, such as high economics of scale, scope and network effects, also helps to inform policymakers on how to create an ideal ecosystem for sustainable, reliable, diverse, and fair media.
In sum, if we are to understand media industries in a holistic way under the headline of media industry studies, then media management scholarship has something important and original to contribute.
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