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News Reporting and Emotions, 1100–2017: Change Program Collaboratory 2017

‘News Reporting and Emotions: 1100‒2017’ is the 2017 Collaboratory of the Change Program of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Europe 1100‒1800.

Date: 4‒6 September 2017 (beginning with a public lecture on the evening of 4 September)
Venue: The University of Adelaide and the National Wine Centre, Adelaide
Convenors: David Lemmings, Amy Milka, Abaigéal Warfield 
Abstracts due: Monday 15 May 2017

Download the Call for Papers flyer

 

In the last year, a number of television reporters made headlines after becoming emotional during live reports. BBC news anchor Kate Silverton was reduced to tears while reporting on the aftermath of airstrikes in war-torn Syria. Following her emotional outburst, Ms Silverton took to Twitter to say that her job was to be inscrutable and impartial, “but I am also human”. The story about this crying anchor made it into several newspapers, with a number of readers commenting online about whether or not they felt her behaviour was acceptable.

Much like historians and judges, received wisdom expects journalists to be objective and impartial or, simply put, not emotional. This is not always the case, and perhaps it never has been. Increasingly, journalists acknowledge the emotional and ethical difficulties of their work, and the ways that emotions can be harnessed in reporting. This begs the question: How has the relationship between news and emotion ebbed and flowed across time and space? Why has it changed? And where will it go in the future?

At the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, scholars from a range of disciplines come together to ask how emotions shape history and inspire change. As individual, community and national identities shift and evolve, so too do forms of emotional expression. News reporting both instigates and reflects changing emotional landscapes. New technologies and improved lines of communication have affected the way news is produced, disseminated and consumed. Reporting styles have been influenced by different genres of popular literature, fluctuating fashions and consumers’ tastes. The emotional agendas of news outlets have been influenced by sponsorship, institutional affiliation, social, political or religious motives and, of course, sales. As we move into what has been labelled a ‘post-factual’ age ‒ or what some have termed ‘post-truth politics’, where political campaigns are forged on emotional grounds ‒ these issues are particularly pressing. Claims of objectivity and reliability can often be found side by side with subjective commentary, satire or polemic; in the news, emotions were (and are) everywhere.

We are delighted to announce four distinguished keynote speakers from a variety of disciplines:

  • Professor Charlie Beckett (Director, POLIS, Media and Communications, London School of Economics)
  • Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University)
  • Dr Cait McMahon (Director, Dart Centre Asia Pacific, Melbourne)
  • Dr Una McIlvenna (History, The University of Melbourne)

This collaboratory seeks to anatomise the relationship between news and emotion from the medieval period to the present day. We welcome abstracts from practising journalists and contributions from the fields of sociology, history, literary studies, media studies, psychology, philosophy and elsewhere.

Individual paper proposals (20mins) and proposals for panels or sessions with alternative formats are welcome.

Potential topics include:

  • Journalists ‘managing’ their emotions, past and present
  • How different mediums and genres limited or enabled the emotional element of news, e.g. Handwritten avvisi, printed non-periodical reports, periodical reports, daily newspapers, broadcast news on radio and television
  • History of emotions in news
  • How news media helps to contribute to emotional norms
  • Emotions between the lines, on blending fact and emotion, rituals of emotionality
  • Training journalists, ethics, emotions and impartiality
  • Democracy, free press and emotion
  • Audience responses to news, and their role in creating and selecting content; the interactive nature of news.

Abstracts of 300 words and brief bios to be sent to amy.milka@adelaide.edu.au by Monday 15 MAY 2017.

Bursaries for postgraduate students and early career researchers are available to assist with the cost of attending the conference.  Please contact the organisers for further information.


Image: Courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London: ‘An American man reads from a newspaper with amazement the latest news on the Mexican war, surrounded by an attentive group of men’ (1899) By Richard Caton Woodville after Alfred Jones.