COMMUNICATIONS – The European Journal of Communication Research
Guest editors: Josef Trappel, Tales Tomaz (University of Salzburg)
Since October 2020, the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet network “European Media and Platform Policy” (EuromediApp) addresses the ongoing fundamental transition from the post-World War II media order to a truly global communication network and platform order. Digital communication promises to bring enormous benefits to citizens and businesses and to improve the wellbeing of citizens. However, its set-up is no longer dominated by national or European players, but by global oligopolies, mostly originating in the United States. These digital platforms increasingly determine European communication at all levels, from political communication to economic, cultural, sports and everyday-life communication. This special issue therefore asks: What is the European answer?
We invite contributions to this special issue in four distinct, but interrelated topics:
1. Regulatory context: Internet governance in general and platform governance in particular can be discussed from a global, European and national perspectives. In this topic of the special issue, contributions are welcome that deal with private-commercial governance rules, as well as national and European regulatory patterns. For example, the design and effectiveness of the German Network Enforcement Act (2017), the modernisation and strengthening of antitrust abuse control, European and national competition rules in the area of digital platforms, such as the proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA), as well as the European Commission’s draft Digital Services Act (DSA) are all up for discussion. Contributors can discuss the chances of success of efforts to create a safer digital space in Europe where, on the one hand, users’ fundamental rights are protected and, on the other hand, a level playing field for information and communication-based platform companies is established. Keywords are: European and national regulation; platform regulation, platform governance, digital intermediaries, self-regulation, co-regulation, external regulation, government regulation, state regulation, multi-level governance, good platform governance.
2. Economic policy context: Digital platforms were initially conceived by their developers as forums for exchange between individuals, independent of the mass media. With their wide dissemination, a competitive relationship has quickly developed. Due to the economic two-sidedness, digital platforms today compete with mass media in terms of both usage time and advertising sales. In the past decade, digital platforms succeeded in gaining competitive advantages in both areas. Especially younger cohorts spend more time using digital platforms than mass media, and personalized advertising provides digital platforms additional advantages. As a result, mass media advertising revenues have eroded, affecting the financial viability of journalism. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated and accelerated this trend. Contributions are welcome addressing fair competition, regulatory responses to oligopolistic or monopolistic concentration of power and its abuse. Keywords are: competition, concentration of power, platform power and abuse, bequest, manipulation, propaganda; antitrust policy, protecting fundamental rights protection, privacy.
3. Corporate policy context: Mass media and digital platforms create public spheres and shape public discourse by producing or moderating content. While mass media are responsible for the top end of the relevant value chain, thus the generation of content, digital platforms delegate this step to their users in order to intervene in a moderating capacity only later – often only when necessary. In both cases, the operators socially responsible as well as accountable. Contributions should discuss the diversity of procedures in the production and dissemination of content, as well as justified variations of regulatory regimes. Who bears responsibility for algorithm-driven or algorithm-generated content? What requirements, if any, should be placed on self-regulation within the industry and on individual platform companies? Keywords are: accountability, transparency obligation, responsibility, algorithms, accountability, infrastructures
4. Journalistic and editorial context: The platformisation of democracy, the public sphere and journalism has fuelled the debate on the power of commercial technology corporations and digital platform operators such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Contributions are welcome on issues of governance and regulation regarding the power and influence of private media and platform corporations on public and political democratic discourses. Keywords are hate speech, all kinds of legal or illegal mis- and disinformation, structural and situational violation of privacy, restrictions on access to content (gatekeeping), lack of labelling of advertising and propaganda, etc.
Contributions should not exceed 8000 words (including references, tables, footnotes, excluding appendices and supplementary material) for articles and 4000 words for Research in Brief or a Debate. The language style should be American English, quotation style (APA) should be applied. Interested scholars are invited to submit two-page abstracts by the end of March 2022. Selected abstracts are invited to submit full papers. COMMUNICATIONS is a double-blind peer reviewed journal and contributions are accepted only after this process.
Note: No payments from authors will be required.
· Abstracts (2 pages including five key words): 31 March 2022
· Invitation to submit full paper: 25 April 2022
· Full paper submission: 30 September 2022
· End of review process: 31 March 2023
· Final version of articles: 30 April 2023
· Publication of the special issue: September 2023
Submission address / contact address: (tales.tomaz /at/ plus.ac.at) <mailto:(tales.tomaz /at/ plus.ac.at)>
Please note that your text should be anonymized. Author name(s), institutional affiliation(s) and contact information should be sent on a separate file or on the body of the e-mail.