Preconference for the IAMCR, 15-16 July

Call for Papers and Expressions of Interest

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Reflections on Foreign Aid, Philanthropy and Change in Media Systems

IAMCR Pre-Conference

Dates: 15-16 July 2017

Location: Cartagena, Colombia

Registration: Please register and submit your abstracts or statements of interest by JUNE 1st 2017 (NEW AND FINAL DEADLINE). 

To register or propose a paper please email:



  • Paul Rothman and Nicholas Benequista, Center for International Media Assistance, National Endowment for Democracy
  • Chris Paterson and Jairo Lugo-Ocando, the Aid and Journalism Network Project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) with support from the University of Leeds
  • Winston Mano and Susan Abbott, CAMRI, University of Westminster
  • Anne Marie Hammer and Ricardo Corredor, Global Forum for Media Development


Media and Media Development are in flux. Digitalization, globalization, and a shift in paradigms and thinking related to democratization and democracy promotion have given rise to concerns and questions related to the value and purpose of media development programs and the influence of international aid on journalism. In addition, the environment for media development work has worsened under pressure from increasingly illiberal governments and a collapse of the traditional institutional and economic framework for independent media. To what extent has the diffusion of a particular model of journalism practice been central to the “modernisation” project in international development, and what alternatives to this approach are emerging?

This pre-conference will bring together academics and practitioners (donors, NGOs, and journalists) working on various aspects of foreign aid and philanthropy designed to support freedom of expression, access to information, and to contribute to improving journalism and information ecosystems. In collaboration with the AHRC/DFID funded research network “Aid and Journalism”, it will facilitate a conversation about the impact that foreign aid and development assistance has had in Latin America and Africa, and how this has affected the development of a critical and independent media sector. The purpose of this pre-conference is to:

  • Encourage the development of an international network of media development researchers.
  • Foster collaboration, coordination, and networking between researchers – including applied researchers, practitioner researchers and academic researchers. Researchers from both social science and humanities traditions are welcome.
  • Improve cross-cultural and historical understandings of the ideas and motivations that underpinned media development and international assistance targeted at journalism.
  • Consider issues of how digitalization and technological developments have created the need to conceptualize media development.
  • Problematize how a post-truth, post-fact era bears upon the world of media development and journalism
  • Critically reflect on the issue of how to measure and assess the impact of media development and journalism assistance programs as well as to support the research and body of evidence that is being generated from both academics and practitioners.

In doing so, we hope that this pre-conference will contribute to scholarship that reflects today’s contexts, needs and realities in the field of media development. The pre-conference will consist of the sharing of papers, panel discussions, and a hackathon.  We welcome all who would like to take part in this pre-conference.  It is not required to submit a paper or speak on a panel to attend. There is no cost to take part in the pre-conference; however, we do ask that you register.

If you would like to present a paper or speak on a panel, we welcome contributions on the following topics:

  • How has digital communications coupled with globalization presented both opportunities and challenges for media development?
  • What is the goal of media assistance in a hyper-connected, digitally saturated world?
  • What has been the role of development assistance in shaping journalistic approaches in Africa and Latin America, and what are the consequences?
  • How has the prevalence of misinformation, hate speech, media bias, coupled with a world of citizen journalism and user generated content, impacted media development programs?
  • What are the theoretical foundations and frameworks for the study of media development that are most relevant for the current context?
  • How might we critically reassess the relationship between external influences on journalism and local cultures and practices of journalism?
  • How can the media development community foster political change for more supportive environments for independent media?
  • How do you measure media and journalism training programs that are rooted in online publications or social media platforms?
  • Case studies from recent projects or programs that seek to contribute to development through a media or communications development lens.

If you have a paper or a panel idea on one of the above themes or if you’d like to suggest one that you think would be a good fit, we would love to hear from you.

Hackathon on 16 July 2017 (half day):

Following day one (July 15), we will have a half-day hackathon on topics and issues raised in this conference.  We will draw upon data sets, research, and real life programs of contemporary media development research.  We will also use this time to discuss and brainstorm in a creative and fun way how to improve partnerships, collaboration, and coordination between researchers, NGOs, donors, and the journalism and media communities.

Concurrently, members of the “Development Assistance and independent journalism in Africa and Latin America” research network will hold their second project meeting.  Details will be posted to


*If you do not wish to submit a paper to this pre-conference, we request that you submit a statement of interest that describes your research interests, relevant experience, and reason for participating in the pre-conference (500-word maximum).

Cost: There is no cost to attend this Pre-Conference.  All interested attendees are, however, required to register.   It is encouraged, but not required, to submit a paper.  We’ve outlined our ideas for what we are looking for in the call, above.

For further information on this Pre-Conference, to register, or to submit an abstract, please email: