We are calling for submission to the FOCUS: Times of Crises in Media!
The advent of media is a double-edged sword. It changed our societies, for better or worse. It is a powerful tool that can serve to educate or fool. Today, we live in a time where media is in crises.
With new forms of communication and exchange, we have created new public spaces and access to information despite geographical distances. Social media has, for example, democratised global connections and allowed voices, from majority and minority, to be raised and heard globally. It has offered a space to popularize opinions, but also fostered problematic spread of the so-called fake news. Its influence is both local and global, shaping people’s beliefs of reality politically, socially, and culturally, and even affecting election results, as the Cambridge Analytica scandal showed.
Facing media as a powerful global influencer, we believe it is critical to develop proper and critical media literacy to understand the underlying powers and complexities of the media world. Yet, such media literacy is not common to all, due to global and local inequalities and various political atmospheres.
Media increasingly becomes the battlefield that reflects the deepening conflicts of interests among different social, political, religious,cultural groups and different power relations. For example, mass media plays power roles to promulgate racist and Islamophobic views, to silence out dissident opinions in settings where media is dominated by hegemonic views, and hereby reproducing the power dynamics that haunt our world. Who speaks and especially who is heard becomes a political question. Today, media is believed by many people to be controlled by strong political and economic powers, failing to reveal truths or unite people against global crises.
We, Critical Edges as a global student magazine, aim to remain true to our ideals, while adapting ourselves to the constantly changing global dynamics. Analyzing the complex dynamics influencing media, and media influencing us is a relevant and critical issue. In this focus, we ask you to address the interlinked problems, causes and effects of media together with us.
For submissions, we would like to see:
- Theoretical or scientific analysis/investigation of the various media phenomenon on individuals, local and global levels related to arising dangers, hopes and actions
- Socio-politico-cultural debates in the discourse around new and mass media, the role of alternative media and their implication on daily and long-term, local and global dynamics
- Personal stories, experiences or projects related to media, its features and power
- Examples of local or global activism and projects on re-organizing and re-creating media and the information system (preferably student-driven)
- Descriptions or representations of the consequences of the (conscious) (mis-)usage of media systems
You can submit in a wide variety of genres: essays, opinion pieces, interviews, reviews of books or movies, poetry, video, music, art, podcasts, etc. Get creative and get your ideas across! And we provide a few more detailed writing prompts to help you get started if you are looking for additional ideas.
1. Questioning media
Media has permeated our connected lives: we read the news on 24/7 media feeds, follow influencers and trends, and might talk more to Siri, than to our families; we get influenced by the media, and often unconsciously form our opinions based on brief disjointed tweets, out-of-contexts hot topics, or emotionally charged information; we live by the different categorization of media profiles (such as the various identity labels we give ourselves) which are exploited to influence our behaviors, to silence, or to noisen us.
When media is censored, controlled, or depoliticized, people might consume the information with full acceptance, without access to different perspectives or critical thinking to see the insufficiencies and controlling ideologies in media. Or, when people are used to receiving news from certain communities that have rather stable, fixated ideas and beliefs, they are likely to have a rather enclosed worldviews and be subjected to manipulation by the systems that produce beliefs.
This is problematic as we constantly live under the veil put on by the media and in many ways lose our autonomy. And the other side of the coin is often overlooked: that we also influence others as agents: we actively participate in shaping the mediatic landscape, and so our friends’ and followers’ lives.
For this reason, we think it is important to ask who is the producer of media: are they professional journalists who work under the premise of freedom of speech, independence of powers and verified sources; whose interests are they representing; and what roles do money, capitalism, and logic of domination play?
What should be done to demand and achieve more transparency and independence from the global media? How would you suggest for citizens to develop a critical consciousness and become agents for alternative and more ethical media?
2. Media’s influence on democracy and society
Mass media has traditionally held great power in overseeing the actions of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of the Estate and so started to be known as the Fourth Estate or the Fourth Power (1). Press’ traditional role is to draw attention to the issues that society is most worried about and, by doing so, influence the political agenda to care for people’s interests.
Today, the expansion of the Internet and the rise of new media give media new functions to affect social change. On the one hand, media has supported easy spread of information and wide connectivity that make possible environmental protests and democracy movements across the world — social media is used in HK right now to inform people (especially migrant workers) on which tube stations are closed, in real time, and people use telegram channels to spread this information is crucial and have saved many lives. In France, people used twitter in social movements to leak information about police plans or movement during protests (as happened one time with the Gilet Jaune, where all the positions for the police was leaked just before one of the 1st Saturdays). While on the other hand, media also aids the spread of terrorism, populism, racism, and media with big data gives birth to the evermore powerful surveillance and suppression of potential unrest.
We cannot but ask, how to use media safely in social movements, negotiating between the necessity of spreading information and knowledge, while not falling prey to the state’s controlling gaze, or to the skewed algorithms that will only spread this information in crowds that are already aware. In other words, how to make sure you don’t get arrested or placed under surveillance for your social media presence?
Further questions are: What is the relationship between media and politics in your country? Are they counter-powers or allies? Is freedom of speech guaranteed in global media? Why some messages get through the media scope while others are silenced? How do you see different social movements across the world being addressed in global media?
3. Creating a critical students’ media
We are interested in building a critical student media that is open, diverse, inclusive, participatory, critical, and international, driven by students.
We take seriously our intentions and walk in a generative and experimentive process with fellow students. We actively reach out to students in different countries and universities and including them into our community. In order to accommodate different localities, we make use of a wide range of digital platforms to include as many people as possible. We have learned the lesson not to “centralize” work and power to a small group by creating different global, local autonomous teams, and facilitating maximum connection among students. Students who join us can choose to work on the aspect most suitable for them, with the freedom to change their roles. Since this year, we also opened up our main editorial decisions to different students by having a rotating editorial committee which allows for fresh ideas and different perspectives.
All this work aims to reach the critical student/youth/activists globally. We constantly reflect on our common values and collective strategies to unite more broadly different students, and to strengthen the belief in collective voice and action. But until today, the shared value and philosophy as critical students is still not clearly defined (as critical students can look quite differently in different contexts) and our strategies are in great need of improvement.
So what does it mean to be a critical student, especially in relation to media? We want to hear your opinions, and share ours. There are several aspects of understanding from our part: reflection on education, the role of students, and practice of critical values.
Reflection on education: Being a “critical student” can mean reflecting on your own positions and the issues in the academic world you are evolving into, thereby developing a close cognitive-emotional-physical connection to the key issues that resonate with you and the broader humanity. Further it means you are willing to engage in true critical debates on issues that are less consensual and not shy away from raising critical voices towards our own institutions and wider societies.
Role of students: it’s important that students refuse to be the consumer of mainstream media information any longer, not taking part in sustaining the unsustainable and untrue values in media. Rather, you make use of your education by bringing it to the public space. You reveal realities that is concealed in media, tell new stories of the innovation, resistance, and hope in the young generation and different communities, and build global unity with collective determination.
Practice of critical values: Practice is to bring knowing and doing into harmony and is an ongoing development. Critical students are concerned with how to make visible, however small to begin with, changes with the ideas that empower you in daily action. Here we leave the possibilities for practice to your imagination and creativity.
So our questions for you are the following. What do you think “critical students” mean to you? How should we understand “critical” in the global context, taking into consideration the various worldviews? What should be the aims of critical students’ media? What should critical student media cover? How to mobilize students and “demand” from them the time and dedication to build the collective knowledge and action network to take global and local responsibilities?
This is an open call for students who are interested in our work! We invite you to contribute and help us imagine theoretical, or practical frameworks that can develop a student-driven international magazine.
Send us your work
- Use “Media_Focus submission_title_author” as the subject in the email
- Attach media (pictures, audio, video, etc) content separately in your email
- Send to our e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Learn about our submission guidelines, if you have other concerns
- We will send notifications to you via the email we receive your work, so please make sure that you check your email regularly and respond timely
- Submission deadline: March the 30th, 2020
- If you want your article to be considered for the printed Focus booklet, please send it by March the 15th.
We sincerely welcome your submission and hope to present well-grounded analysis of case examples related to new, mass and alternative media, and its political, social, cultural and economic implications on individual, local, and global levels.
We hope that students everywhere can engage in meaningful and multi-perspective discussions, as well as gain a deeper understanding of the problems with media globally. We hope that we can share knowledge to inspire and encourage more people to find ways to address issues related to the dangers and opportunities of media interaction.
If you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to contact us: criticaledges(at)gmail.com. Our Times of Crises in Media Focus will start publishing in December 2019.
Critical Edges Focus Committee
Adrian Ortega Camara Lind
श्रेया उर्वशी Shreya Urvashi
潘燕 Thea Pan
Brigita Cepulyte (for illustration)
Xiong Liqi (for phograph)
- Schultz, J. (1998). Redefining the Fourth Estate. In Reviving the Fourth Estate: Democracy, Accountability and the Media (Reshaping Australian Institutions, pp. 15-22). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511597138.002