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Public Scholars: Engaging With Mainstream Media as Activism

Fri, May 25, 15:30 to 16:45, Hilton Prague, M, Karlin III

Session Submission Type: Roundtable Proposal

Abstract

From media policies to representations of race, gender, and sexuality, many communication researchers’ studies are highly relevant to current political and social debates. Yet, pundits’ and policymakers’ positions are rarely based on peer-reviewed research. The fact that much of the scholarship is hidden behind paywalls and and is written in academic jargon isolates it from the world of non-experts. Moreover, most academics are neither trained nor expected to engage with journalists or to reach out to policymakers, with tenure and promotion committees largely valuing peer-reviewed work. Despite these obstacles, many scholars are interested in reaching a wider public audience and having a social impact through their work. The participants on this roundtable have a considerable range of experiences as public scholars, and in order to help others engage with the media, the roundtable participants will offer practical advice, including how scholars can become known as sources for journalists--as well as how we can disrupt the perpetuation of the systems of power (race, gender, seniority, etc.) that limit who gets called. Participants will discuss the effectiveness of the strategies they have used to try to get media attention for the issues they are working on, including writing for mainstream media, “amplifier platforms” (like The Conversation or Medium), and social media.

Together, we will explore the relationship between scholarship and activism by examining how our engagement with the mainstream media and social media might contribute to (and/or complicate) our various goals for social justice and policy change. We will discuss both the positive outcomes we’ve experienced from engaging with the media, including examples of social, political, or policy change, as well as what we’ve learned from our mistakes, backlash to our media work, and other negative outcomes. On this roundtable, we will discuss how we navigate the tensions between both studying mainstream media and becoming its fodder.

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