Environment - Media

The Media Department at the University of Chester established a network for research into the relationship between Media and Conflict in 2013. Such a network has great contemporary significance.

The events of the ‘Arab Awakening’ were intensively mediatized, with online journalism and social media integral to wider political developments. Away from the Arab world, the levels of interactivity generated by online journalism, citizen journalism, blogs and social media are changing the media landscape with profound implications for conflict resolution and conflict generation. The changing relationship between producers and consumers of news is inherently political, and its implications are becoming apparent in a range of different global contexts.

The network explores these implications by examining the ways in which the media (in its broadest sense) represents conflict, as well as its potential role in post-conflict and peace dialogues.

The network informs and resonates with existing student modules and staff research to deepen the climate of academic inquiry within the department. It should also be noted that several long-established undergraduate modules, for instance ME6230 Conflict, Propaganda and Public Opinion, explore these themes with students.

Cultural and linguistic identity often lies at the heart of conflict, frequently and increasingly associated with media representation, and several staff have research interests in this area. Related to this, the network feeds into, and complements, the faculty-wide CCRAM (Chester Centre for Research in Arts and Media) events, which revolve around three research days over the academic year. CCRAM itself was launched as a ‘natural evolution’ from the Centre for Practice as Research in the Arts (CPaRA) to create a more inclusive research environment which represents the activities in the Faculty as a whole.

The scope and emphasis of the network is international and comparative: reflecting also on the specifics of the British media post-devolution, the politics of identity in the UK and internationally, terror narratives, imagery and public perception in multiple international contexts. In the West, the political controversy sparked by Wikileaks is a reminder of the new paradigm. The work also touches on issues surrounding human rights, conflict resolution, and social justice, as well as the use of journalistic tools/role in processes of reconciliation and peace.

The range of publications emerging from the department has increased considerably over recent years and has raised the research profile of the department. The department’s research strategy also involves mentoring and encouragement at department level – via seminars/tutorial sessions and the new network – followed by involvement at faculty level, especially via CCRAM as dissemination opportunity - and the wider academic community. Research feeds teaching at all levels in the department.

The department hosted two international symposia in 2012-2013. In 2013, the Sport, Media and Regional Identity symposium marked the arrival of the Rugby League World Cup by celebrating Warrington’s Rugby League traditions alongside its civic identity and history. Speakers from Culture Warrington and Warrington Museum were invited to speak and the event had some attendees from the community.

In 2012, the department hosted a symposium on WWII and the media. Both these symposia led to edited volumes (in print) and attracted delegates from both the academic and local community.