Media Management in the Age of Tech Giants: Collaboration or Co-opetition?
Cape Town, South Africa: 6-9 May 2018
The conference seeks to interrogate the business, management and leadership strategies, tactics and policies of the current media industry in Africa and globally to gauge their relevance and effectiveness in an age where international digital media conglomerates are increasingly displacing traditional media in the creation, value-addition and dissemination of media content to audiences.
The world’s traditional media had already been under siege in the past two decades after a broad array of digital and social media platforms disrupted their business model based on selling audiences to advertisers, leading to the closure of many media enterprises and the lay-off of hundreds of thousands of media workers across the globe.
The intervention in the market by global technological giants such as Google, Facebook and Apple – the so-called Big Three – and others has deepened and accelerated traditional media’s existential financial and economic crisis, which was also exacerbated by the worldwide economic downturn of 2007-2009.
In recent years, several leading media firms around the world have wilfully handed over their content to Facebook’s ‘Instant Articles’, Apple’s News, and Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages to seek what has been promised as greater and faster distribution of their content to audiences and increased revenue.
But are these media firms handing over only these two key levers of their core business to their ‘frenemies’, a new term that has been coined to signify a simultaneous friend and enemy, or much more? For example, how does Facebook decide which content should ‘trend’ over any other content at any given time? What content analytics or algorithms are being used to make these decisions? What are these analytics based on? How can media firms trust that the analytics used – even if they are shared with the participating media companies – are scrupulously observed by the tech giants all the time?
Some of the tech conglomerates such as Yahoo have launched a spirited campaign to recruit journalists and editors to start these companies’ fully-fledged media content hubs, significantly challenging long-established media firms’ economic survival.
The race to produce and distribute content – and the type of content that will be prioritized in both production and dissemination – looks set to heighten in the coming years as the global tech giants and other digital media outlets scramble to monetize and effectively take control of the media industry. It is in this hyper-competitive and ‘boundary-less’ environment that some media scholars and analysts are beginning to question the relevance, value and utility of traditional media, as configured today.
This conference will also examine the usefulness and relevance of current media management and media business thinking, as well as the economics literature and academic content that are used to teach media business and media management. All of these were designed and framed largely for a time that is now long gone.
These key teaching and learning tools are increasingly appearing to be out of sync with the marked fluidity, ambiguity and uncertainty of an era where ‘anyone who is connected’ is a potential media producer and/or distributor of media content. These developments are accelerating the disruption of the media industry worldwide; they spell more financial upheavals for the sector; and they urgently call for new and novel solutions to try to save an industry long touted as a key pillar of democracy.
Below are the conference’s major themes for the submission of research papers:
- Emerging challenges and opportunities in the strategic management of media firms: As the media industry adapts to changes resulting from digital and social media platforms, what are some of the challenges and opportunities offered by strategic management?
- How can strategic management ensure the sustainability of digital media start-ups, and how can small digital start-ups survive in the era of the Tech Giants?
- How to lead and manage media talent and knowledge workers in the technological age.
- In an era where anyone can publish and be published online and through a variety of digital platforms, how does the media industry retain and motivate skilled, creative professionals?
- What is the impact of technology and digital platforms on the relationship between media management and media workers?
- The leadership and management of media firms in the age of algorithms.
A Globalized World:
- The impact of globalization on journalism and media.
- Who is defining the news agenda in a globalized world? What impact are the Tech Giants having on news generation, the type of news that is prioritized or not prioritized and why, and agenda-setting?
- The role of media and journalism in the transformation of a ‘new’ Africa: Africa is one of the emerging continents which has promising, positive economic growth and rising populations, which are important for creating scale in business. How do local and global media companies harness the power of this emerging continent in light of a lack of infrastructure and technology, corruption, and political disruptions?
- Examining the challenges of media development and growth in Africa: How do local and global media companies ensure the sustainability of the African media market in uncertain and changing technological, political and economic circumstances?
- The role of media ethics in the sustainability of African media companies: How can digital media provide a space for alternative voices in a landscape filled with repression and ‘envelope journalism’?
- Financing of public, private and community media in the twenty-first century.
Education, Teaching and Learning:
- Challenges and opportunities in educating and training competent media managers and leaders in an age of shifts and volatile changes in the media landscape.
- How can educators adapt their teaching and curricula to ensure they educate leaders who understand the media landscape holistically and can make their companies relevant and sustainable through strategic thinking?
- The relevance of the current curricula of media management and media business in an ever changing media landscape?
Measuring Media Consumption Trends and Impacts:
- Trends in media consumption, measurement and forecasting: what is the future in a digital and social media-dominated world?
- How should we measure more accurately media consumption in the digital and social media landscape?
- Moving beyond the numbers: What are the emerging trends in measuring audience behavior in the multi-platform media environment?
- The role of Big Data in media consumption and audience measurement.
Media and Journalism Ethics:
- The role of media and journalistic ethics in the sustainability of media: how can digital and social media provide a space for alternative voices while shaping credible and quality content which has been the key driver of the financial survival of media firms for years?
- In an age of increasing ‘fake news’ and, in parts of the world of ‘envelope journalism’, who is setting the agenda, and how do media companies ensure they remain ethical in an age of heightened competition?
- The ethics of truth in an age of ‘post-truth’: what implications do the trends of minimizing the facts and of ‘creating’ the facts and the truth have on media content and media’s future viability?
- How can media managers observe and enforce media ethics when faced with demands from audiences, social media and technology companies for fast ‘facts’ and instant news content?
Big Data and Its Implications for Media Firms: An Invited Research Session
- Big Data, Algorithms and Media Management
- Big Data, Globalisation and the Survival of Independent Television Production Industries