Updates from the Finnish Conference for Media and Communication Studies MEVI2022: Keynote Speakers

The Finnish Conference for Media and Communication Studies MEVI2022 has just announced their keynote speakers. The keynote speakers for the conference will be Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen of Cardiff University and Johan Farkas of Malmö University.

The organisers also inform us that it has been decided that the conference in Turku will not be a hybrid conference – it will be 100% physical in Turku. The keynote speaches will be in English, but the conference sessions will be in Finnish.

Keynote speakers

Karin Wahl-Jorgensen is Dean of Research Environment and Culture at Cardiff University, Wales, and a Professor in the School of Journalism, Media and Culture, where she serves as Director of Research for the Centre for Community Journalism. She holds a PhD from Stanford University, USA, and an honorary doctorate from Roskilde University, Denmark. Her research focuses on journalism and citizenship, and she has authored or edited ten books, close to 80 journal articles and more than 44 book chapters.

About her keynote speech for MEVI2022 titled “Responsibility, Accountability and the Importance of Diverse, Independent and Sustainable Media”, Wahl-Jorgensen writes, “In this talk, I will make the case that a robust media ecology which facilitates accountability must include a mixture of media types, characterised by independence and financial sustainability. This is particularly vital in in the context of increasing polarisation, aligned to the rise of social media and the spread of misinformation“.

It is essential that media organisations are able to hold the powerful to account through the provision of trustworthy and reliable information in the public interest. Against that backdrop, the second half of the talk will look at a specific case – that of local journalism startups in the UK. A number of local journalism startups have stepped into the void created by the closure of local newspapers. This emerging sector is characterised by small-scale, entrepreneurial publishers which often operate on a shoestring budget“, she elaborates.

Drawing on in-depth interviews and surveys with independent local journalism entrepreneurs, carried out in 2020–2021, I will discuss how these journalists see their responsibility to their communities. The research demonstrated that their conceptions were shaped in and through their interactions with their audiences, and by normatively inflected interpretation of what constitutes news in the public interest in their particular local area“.

The second keynote speaker at MEVI2022, Johan Farkas, is a PhD student in Media and Communication Studies at Malmö University, Sweden. His research explores disinformation, fake news, racism, and political struggles, specifically in connection to digital media. Farkas has written more than 15 peer-reviewed publications, featured in journals such as New Media & Society, Social Media + Society, Television & New Media, Critical Discourse Studies and Nordicom Review.

About about his keynote speech, titled “Media Discourses on Fake News and their Limits”, Farkas writes, “Democracies are currently under siege, as fake news is flooding social media and post-truth sentiments roam throughout society. This dystopian narrative has come to dominate news headlines across the globe with urgent calls for radical measures. In this talk, I will critically examine contemporary media discourses on fake news by honing in on and challenging their democratic underpinnings“.

He continues, “Engaging with critical political philosophy, I highlight how ideas of post-truth and fake news often neglect that democracy has never been about truth, evidence and rationality alone. It is equally about the voice of the democratic people. By neglecting this cornerstone of the democratic tradition, discourses on fake news – and the solutions they contain – often reproduce and strengthen a one-sided vision of democracy, which might end up deepening existing democratic problems“.

His talk builds on the book Post-Truth, Fake News and Democracy: Mapping the Politics of Falsehood, written by Farkas and Jannick Schou, and published by Routledge in 2019. The book presents a detailed analysis of contemporary discourses of fake news and post-truth, offering both a trenchant critique and call for more inclusive forms of democracy.

Illustration by SNCR_Group via Pixabay.