Welcome to MeCCSA, the subject association that represents all who teach or research in Higher Education in media, communications and cultural studies, whether in arts, humanities or social sciences departments. This includes practice-based work as well as more ‘academic’ disciplines.
The Government is currently consulting about two key issues relating to the implementation of the framework for independent self-regulation of the press that was agreed by Parliament after the first stage of the Leveson Inquiry. The consultation questions whether Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 should be commenced and if Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry should go ahead. Whatever your views on press regulation, as teachers and researchers in the field we encourage you to make sure your concerns are heard. The Consultation ends on 10th January 2017.
MeCCSA is currently drafting a submission, which will be available on this website. Members have written extensively about Leveson, and Three-D Issue 20, Issue 24 and Issue 27 all contained a number of articles that might be of interest by way of background context.
The below letter has today been sent by Natalie Fenton to the Turkish Minister of Education from MeCCSA in support of colleagues facing struggles over academic freedom, losing their jobs and in some cases facing imprisonment. Please consider sending your own letters of support.
This response is on behalf of MeCCSA (the Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Association) which is the subject association for academics and students in these fields in UK Higher Education. It draws on extensive independent research into the changing higher education environment and how it has impacted on the field of media, communications and cultural studies, and on discussion at the Association’s Executive and after consultation with members. The research study, cited in some answers, employed both quantitative and qualitative methods to capture the personal experiences of senior academics working in the fields of media, communications and cultural studies in higher education.
You can read the full response below or download a PDF version.
The Home Office Guidance sets out the difficult task of balancing protection of open debate and freedom of expression with universities’ and student unions’ proper charitable and social responsibilities. It says that “Higher education institutions and student unions can be challenged on whether they have given due consideration to the public benefit and associated risks notably when they, or one of their affiliated societies, invite controversial or extremist speakers to address students.” Prevent also note that “The Education (2) Act 1986 also requires higher and further education institutions to maintain and update a code of practice on the freedom of speech, setting out procedures and conduct for organising and attending meetings.”
MeCCSA is concerned at the varied implementation and interpretation of these proposals. Our view is that the ability to question provocative or contentious speakers is a necessary part of the culture of vigorous debate that should be essential at any university. In our fields this is intensified because many members are engaged, among other things, in teaching about news and journalism, and the ability to invite in speakers from all sides of a debate, and to subject them to critical interview or questioning, is essential to student learning about ethical and responsible reporting. It is also vital that understanding of the sources and journalistic construction of a very wide range of views and opinions forms part of the student pedagogic experience, as well as being a necessary tool for the intelligent and informed citizen of a democracy.
Most universities are aware of the dilemma this poses, and have drawn up policy positions (or a Code as prescribed above) to make clear their institutional approach to such matters. We seek to ensure such Codes are well drafted and consistent between institutions, and we are actively involved in working toward such ends.
This issue will be discussed at the AGM during the Annual conference in January 2016.
In view of the wide diversity of disciplinary orientation, methodological approach, and conceptual foundation of research in our field, MeCCSA does not publish a detailed code of research practice. Instead MeCCSA has published a statement that outlines a broad set of principles and links to a range of research practice guidelines from various associations, which we believe may be of value in the conduct of members’ research.