Three-D Issue 21: Chair’s report

ThornhamSue Thornham
University of Sussex

As we approach the annual conference and AGM, this issue of Three-D contains information not only about this year’s conference, to be hosted by the University of Bournemouth between 8th and 10th of January, with the theme of ‘media and the margins’, but also about next year’s, to be held at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle. This is also a reminder that elections for the MeCCSA Executive Committee are about to take place. The work that the committee does on your behalf is extremely important, and we need a range of voices and contributions if we are to be effective, so please consider standing for one of the places.

We’ll also need your voice at the AGM, where we’ll be reporting back on activities undertaken this year. As part of these activities, against a background of renewed attacks on our subject areas and pressure on student applications, we have sought to promote our field. Our leaflet aimed at schools and colleges, explaining and promoting MeCCSA’s subject areas was distributed not only to schools and colleges but also to potential applicants themselves. But we simply don’t know – and UCAS figures don’t tell us – how the pressures of the current climate on student applications are affecting you. This issue, therefore, also asks you to help us to collect such information, in order that we can better defend our members’ interests

This issue of Three-D continues a number of recent themes and introduces a new one. This time last year I commented that ‘We are continuing our discussion of the Leveson Inquiry and its possible outcomes, in the context of the promised Communications Act and its response to the urgent need for media reform’. A year later the need is no less urgent but the Communications Act has been shelved. Des Freedman and Justin Schlosberg of the Media Reform Coalition provide an update on the limited scope for consultation on the issue of  media ownership and plurality that has been offered. A year ago, too, we began discussion of the Finch report and its repercussions. Since then, these have become both clearer and more problematic as, with the current REF exercise almost at its final census date, universities turn to the contemplation of restrictions on academic publication which might well be the consequence of the Government’s pursuit of the ‘gold’ open access route. As the policy of high payments (APCs) for publication in established journals is increasingly accepted and promoted, and with only limited funding made available by research councils, many of us will find ourselves outside the golden circle of funded publication. Ann Cummings’ article provides further information and commentary on this issue.

Perhaps, then, our third theme is particularly timely: the possibilities for more radical alliances and forms of publication. This issue is tackled by a number of our contributors, and does of course connect to the theme of this year’s conference. As always, the conference will offer opportunities to discuss policies as well as ideas, politics as well as research and scholarship, and to raise issues – whether theoretical, political or institutional – that are concerning you. And there is the pub quiz…..

Posted by Einar Thorsen