New journal issue: Advocating For PSM

The InnoPSM conveners Alessandro D’Arma and Minna Horowitz have coedited, with Yik Chan Chin, a special journal issue for Interactions [Volume (11): Issue (2)]: Advocating for Public Service Media: Scholarship and Praxis.

This themed issue originates from a one-day post-conference held at the 2018 annual conference of the International Association of Mass Communication Research (IAMCR) in Eugene, Oregon (US). The event, titled ‘Public Service Media (PSM) in a Time of Global Reordering: Sustainability, Reinvention and Extension’, was co-organised by the IAMCR Public Service Media Working Group (chaired by Alessandro D’Arma and Yik Chan Chin) and the Global PSM Experts Network (represented by Minna Horowitz). The event took place in the context of growing pressure on journalistic and media freedom all around the world, coupled with such troubling phenomena as filter bubbles, fake news and media capture, making initiatives to support independent, robust, public interest and public service media all the more needed. Against this backdrop, the event was designed to stimulate dialogue within the emerging global community of public service media scholars and practitioners around some of the fundamental questions that can help strengthening public service media research as well as praxis:

  • What is the role of public service media in media development in today’s
    increasingly networked communication environment?
  • Should we forgo the old institutional models or continue to support them? What
    are some policy implications of this?
  • What are some great examples of public service media working for democracy
    and development?
  • Who are advocating for public service media in different national and international contexts? What are some lessons learned?

The last question around advocacy efforts for public media projects, organizations and systems is particularly urgent, given the paucity of research on this topic in spite of the great significance of advocacy for the future of PSM. The contributions are addressing a number of related questions: How does the context shape the understanding of what public media is, why it is needed, who advocates for it, and what concrete measures are suggested to support it? What are the strategies and tactics of advocacy for public media, ranging from awareness campaigns to policy initiatives and media development projects? How do efforts to develop and strengthen public media align with other kinds of media reform or communication rights activism and advocacy?

While there is growing scholarly interest in communication policy activism and there have also been few valuable studies dealing specifically with activism in support of public service media, this is the first collection that addresses the issue of PSM advocacy from a truly international perspective.

It is important to stress that the ‘public service media’ that are the object or ideal of the advocacy efforts discussed in the contributions to this themed issue can take different forms, also beyond the traditional institutional configurations of public service broadcasting. This also means new challenges to scholarship examining policy issues related to PSM. While policy research is not pro-PSM advocacy as such, the importance to better understand the global field and its various stakeholders is urgent. That is also why the special issue features both in-depth academic analyses and commentaries that feature specific questions and stakeholders.

The first three articles in this volume provide cases of non-state stakeholders supporting public service broadcasting. Winston Mano and viola c milton discuss multistakeholder collaborations and other specific strategies and tactics for civil society groups to hold public broadcasters accountable in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Corinne Schweizer analyzes the rise of media policy activism in Switzerland in recent years, identifying a variety of civil society organizations and considering their relationship to public service broadcasting. Masduki traces the transformation of Indonesia’s state-run broadcasters into PSBs during the last twenty years, with a special focus on the role of international media assistance in policy design.

The following two articles, by Michael Huntsberger and Anis Rahman, both highlight how media other than institutionalized public broadcasters can still serve important public service functions. Huntsberger considers the role of community media in the United States while Rahman appraises the role of state broadcasting in Bangladesh. In the final research article, Peter Thompson reflects on both practical and normative challenges for research praxis of ‘engaged scholars’, drawing on lessons from three advocacy campaigns in New Zealand he was involved with.

The four commentaries in this issue offer a dialogue of sorts with these in-depth analyses. Sally-Ann Wilson reflects on news and trends of public service media around the world based on the monitoring and advocacy work by the Public Media Alliance. Gregory F. Lowe recounts the 20-year history of the scholar-practitioner RIPE initiative for the development of public service media. Alessandro D’Arma, Minna Horowitz and Maria Michalis discuss changes in conceptualizations of public service media in the field of media development. Finally, Naomi Sakr summarizes the key takeaways of a recent CAMRI Policy Brief on frameworks and opportunities to promote PSM principles and values in novel contexts, and how national and international actors play different roles in such processes.

Interactions Volume (11): Issue (2): Advocating for Public Service Media can be found at:

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