The Fifth International Conference on Communication & Media Studies features research addressing the following annual themes:
THEME 1: MEDIA CULTURES
THEME 2: MEDIA THEORY
THEME 3: MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES AND PROCESSES
THEME 4: MEDIA BUSINESS
THEME 5: MEDIA LITERACIES
2020 Special Focus—A Pandemic of Misinformation: Truth in Bubbles?
From the first knowledge of the emergence of COVID-19, we have relied on forms of media, and their defining technologies, to keep us updated and stay connected. The information we receive shapes health attitudes and adherence to preventive measures. It informs how we act as individuals and citizens. The virus itself has not only has created news to be reported. It also has produced a new kind of dependency on communication media. And as a result of social distancing actions, there is a logical increase in media consumption.
A landscape of traditional broadcast media gatekeepers has been juxtaposed with social media actors and the bubbles that are created by narrowcasting into our customized feeds. Alternative news and conspiracy theorists are all vying for position, forecasting effects and prescribing necessary responses to the pandemic. In this information milieu, there has been a proliferation of misinformation. Providing accurate and authoritative information to the public has been colored by political partisanship and fostered mistrust of ‘mainstream’ media—even to the point where the principles of modem science are thrown into question. UN Secretary-General António Guterres argues that “the antidote to this pandemic of misinformation is fact-based news and analysis.” But how do we curtail misinformation when we don’t have a common understanding of a shared truth? What, in this media context, is “fact”? And when powerful digital media and platforms choose to be agnostic in the “truth” business, what hope do we have of finding common ground to address this and other existential threats?