John Downing recently gave a keynote at the fifth annual Media, Communication and Humanity conference put on by the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. Media@McGill has received permission to reprint his remarks here, to further highlight his provocative thinking about the field. The abstract follows below - download the PDF attachment to read his full remarks.
"While the research literature on alternative media, participatory media, tactical media, social movement media, continues to expand and explore this significant realm of public communication, it tends at the present time to be very heavily analytical. This is vital work but, I will argue, insufficient to meet the social and economic demands of the day.
A quite frequent absence in this research literature is, equally, attention to the interface between educational activities and socially committed media. It is as though thinking about media and thinking about education had been placed in solitary confinement, albeit in neighbouring cells.
These issues demand urgent attention. The paper will focus principally on the potential in colleges and universities, but not only in those educational contexts, for constructive interactions from all ‘five corners’ of the media firmament. These are, in no special order, media analysis, media activism, media arts, media industry professions and media policy-makers. There are moments and places of overlap between one or more of these, but too often, there are not. Sadly, although people and groups in this pentangle are deeply concerned with media communication, they rarely talk with each other, despite some progress in this direction within the current media reform movement in the USA."