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Media, Ethics, & Dementia

Media, Ethics, & Dementia

This week, I took part in a dinner debate about media, ethics, and dementia. The conversation was run by the Dementia Festival of ideas, a year-long programme of events designed to interrogate key issues in dementia studies and research, along with an exploration of how to create novel forms of public engagement and public responsibility around the subjects. The debate took place with a range of experts fom different areas of interest, from journalism to medical ethics and was a really far reaching discussion. What struck me is how much has yet to be done, to ensure that care is adequate, and that social stigma around dementia is challenged.

Some possible interventions will follow from this event, including finding a way to empower families of suffers to take more decisive action to influence best practice and care within hospitals, along with developing a university alliance that can take strategic action in influencing policy, agenda setting, and generating research funds.


Salford International Media Festival #SIMF14

Salford International Media Festival #SIMF14


This week saw some of the UK's best media pros come to Salford - many of them are already here of course! The phenomenal venue of Media City was a fantastic back drop to debates about media change, not least because it stands as an example of how much change has happened already in the UK, since Media City was open. The industry conference was preceded by an academic conference and, while one might wish for more integration than separation, these are still early days in the programme's life and it was a fantastic achievement to bring these two alongside each other.

I chaired a panel looking at alternative media and social media and their role within journalism. Two things struck me about this panel. The first is that the media industries are still trying to figure out how to do social media and have yet to come to terms with just how much it is changing their profession.

Forget whether or not citizens are journalist, what struck me most was provoked by Salford' Caroline Cheetham revealing that the user-generated content (UGC) department in the BBC is the fastest growing of all departments. In a world where the amount of news is expanding and the number of journalists is diminshing, it seems apparent to me that a completely new model is required. While one presentation talked about journalists as 'curators' of content rather than 'originators' of content, this seems still a stop-gap position, at the top end of a slippery slope, the end of which is a complete failure of journalism to do anything that the people cannot do themselves.

This is not a realisation that those in the industry willingly accept, but it is an impending reality that is steadily eroding professional journalism. Until the media realise this and figure that, even 'trust' is not something that they can rely on as a USP, then it will steadily ebb away into oblivion.

Despite this gloomy prognosis, I am optimistic about the future of journalism, but it is a future that is not predicated on the current economic model, not even the current ethos of journalism. It has to evolve and figure out what kind of future it has in a world where enhanced democracies can produce capable citizen journalists who work out of networks that can take on the biggest and smallest stories in our world.

The opening day closed with a lecture from Harriet Harman MP, who emphasised the importance of the creative industries - focusing more on this than on the journalism side of things. Yet, this separation was my biggest problem with her speech. Within government, there is no sense of the ways in which content overlap across industries and how difficult it is to separate them out.

A debate about the BBC license fee on the second day left me with one conclusion. In a world where citizens take on the role of journalists, the rise of user generated content may one day see the BBC change its acronym to UGC. Journalists may still have a job, but it will look nothing like the one they enjoy today.




New PhD studentships

I'm currently advertising a few new PhD studentships, three of which I am directing, deadline 31st May. The first under my direction is on Ethics and Emerging Technologies, the second on the Olympic Games, and the third on Digital Culture generally. There's a lot of flexibility in either, so if you're at all interested in the subject matter, get in touch. Stay tuned for another 1 about the Internet, but here are the details for the first 2:


In the context of transatlantic debates about the converging sciences, this PhD will examine any aspect of emerging technological culture (nanotechnoogy, biotechnology, information, cognitive). The study may draw on research into public engagement with science, media and cultural representations of new technology, science communication, the philosophical and ethical dimensions of new technology, or the political economy of science and technology. Areas of focus may include posthumanism/transhumanism, human enhancement, life extension, artificial intelligence, digital culture, environmental ethics, synthetic biology, the ethics of outer space, or elite sport, among other areas. The project should have a strong social dimension and expect to inform the science sector, either through working closely within bioethics or by bringing communication expertise to the sciences.

Applicants should have an interest in science communication and, ideally, have a background in applied philosophy and/or media and communication studies. The successful applicant may choose to focus on ethical narratives within cultural texts (film, television, literature), or apply philosophical ideas to the regulatory and policy environment within bioethics. Applicants with higher degrees in a relevant area will be at an advantage.


The Olympic Games is an event characterized by its capacity to generate media coverage in many aspects unrelated to the sports themselves. Over the last 20 years, various studies have focused on the economics, logistics, culture and politics of the hosting process. Studies of the Olympic Games and have included historical analyses of former Games, the political circumstances surrounding bid processes, the creative and cultural dimensions of the Games, and the distinct local political issues that arise within a country. The London 2012 Games are unique in their pursuit of creating a national Games experience and their capacity to realize this shared experience will rely heavily on how the Games is articulated through media narratives. In this context, applications are sought from candidates interested in studying the cultural, media and political dimensions of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The successful applicant will focus on media representations of the Olympics, though the specific area of focus is open. Methodologically, the research will require a strong background in qualitative research, focusing particularly on media narrative analysis. Additionally, the research will require and develop an understanding of how media change is operating around the London 2012 Olympics, particularly how the rights-paying media (television and print), are transforming their production outputs towards online and mobile delivery.  Applicants with a relevant higher degree will be at an advantage.

Whatever happened to the Internet? (CCI022)

This PhD project will examine any aspect of digital and new media culture and may consider some of the following dimensions: ethical issues of digital media, how traditional media have reported the Internet over the years, structures of communication, changing patterns of journalism, cybersexuality in Web 2.0, digital communication for development. The PhD should focus on examining the Internet longitudinally and investigate some of its key facets, while contextualising it within broader processes of media change and assertions about there having been different eras of the Internet.

to apply, click here or feel free to contact me directly

and here's the general call for apps in our school for new phds..

Creative and Cultural Industries Studentships

The Media: An Introduction (third edition)

New book chapter published here on 'The Body, Health and Illness' with Emma Rich. Edited by Daniele Albertazzi and Paul Cobley [kml_flashembed publishmethod="static" fversion="8.0.0" movie="" width="600" height="860" targetclass="flashmovie"]

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This chapter discusses media representations of health and illness and offers a description of the ways in which media habitually represent the body. Issues such as disability, eating disorders, body image, genetic engineering, sexually transmitted diseases, mental disorder, cosmetic surgery, drug cultures, abortion, fertility treatment, euthanasia, gerontology, and so forth, are within the general remit of this chapter. However, it focuses on three main issues as exemplary: ‘beginning of life’, eating disorder, disability and ‘end of life’ issues. These examples, it will be shown, urge  consideration of the kind of ethical principles which might inform media representations.