On 29 October 2019 the YECREA section of International and Intercultural Communication (IIC) and the Young Scholars Network (YSN) organized a PhD workshop with a focus on international journalism, humanitarian communication and news production at the Free University of Brussels. The workshop preceded and took place in the context of the two-day ECREA conference “Digital Fortress Europe: Exploring Boundaries between Media, Migration and Technology” (on 30 and 31 October 2019 in Brussels). It was hosted by Dr. Kate Wright (University of Edinburgh) who is internationally acclaimed for her research on humanitarian journalism and NGO communication.

After a welcome address, Dr. Wright opened the workshop’s first session on humanitarian communication and journalism by providing a keynote discussing own work and related ethical and practical research issues.

The keynote was followed by three PhD presentations and extended Q&As. First, Roja Zaitoonie (Ruhr University Bochum & Technical University of Dortmund) presented her research on the UN efforts on media development in fragile and (post-) conflict contexts. She thereby indicated the relevance of both looking into the policy as well as reception level.

Second, Richard Stupart (London School of Economics and Political Science) reflected on the discourse and practice of reporting suffering. Based on a large number of expert interviews and extensive field work in Sudan, he discussed if and how journalists’ witnessing of suffering affects their news coverage.

Finally, Joshy Joseph Thumpakattu (City, University of London) discussed the BBC’s international news coverage of India in the digital era. He compared findings among news media outlets, media genre and time (pre- and post-online period)

After a cosy lunch break – which was an excellent opportunity to get to know each other, the workshop’s second session on media, migration and post colonialism started, again consisting of three PhD presentations and long Q&A’s. First, Elke Mahieu (Ghent University) discussed Congolese newspaper coverage on Belgium and vice versa. She thereby looked into preliminary findings of both her text and production research in Kinshasa.

Second, Sara Creta (Dublin City University) scrutinized the role of social media for digital migrant activism. She focused on how collective identities and mobilisation are shaped among political exiles in Libya by digital media.

Finally, David Ongenaert (Ghent University) looked into the public communication strategies of refugee organizations. He emphasized the importance of looking into the production and reception dimensions of public communication, and taking into account a myriad of factors.

By spending a lot of time on Q&As, the young scholars obtained in-depth, constructive feedback from Dr. Wright and each other in a relaxed atmosphere, which was perceived as very positive and useful. Furthermore, at the end of the session plans were made for future collaborations. We consider this workshop as very interesting and useful, and want to thank all the participants for sharing their research and providing great suggestions, Dr. Kate Wright for her insightful keynote and excellent feedback and enthusiasm, and the YSN and ECREA’s Diaspora, Migration & the Media (DMM) section for their fantastic support and collaboration!

Organizers of this event: Elke Mahieu and David Ongenaert (PhD representatives of ECREA’s IIC-section)

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