Last week we attended the annual European Media Management Association (EMMA) conference this week in Ghent, Belgium and did one of the keynotes of a pre-conference and a speech on co-working spaces during the main conference.
Our project directly looks at topic of the conference theme – Media Clusters. It is a new field that has directly developed from Industry Cluster research. It draws together – for example – media economics, cultural analysis, and studies relating to power structures and knowledge exchange networks. In our project we use media clusters framework to investigate the position of public service media, its partnership systems and cultural processes as a part of a wider media ecology.
The presentation on the coworking spaces of Boston US and London UK underlined the importance of community to amplify knowledge exchange, and this is being commodified (a good social structure attracts more startups who hire more desk space). Successful coworking spaces are rapidly being franchised to other cities internationally.
Ghent was a great city to host the conference as it has an extremely walkable city centre. The people of Ghent have been ruled by the Spanish, the French, and the Austrians at various times. It is situated at the confluence of two rivers. This, together with the canals built to access the Sea, creates a feeling of peace and tranquillity. There were – however – many groups of tourists from all over the world who come to see the medieval buildings and the Castle of the Count.
The EMMA conference drew together international scholars who presented on topics ranging from media trust, public interest to policy and change management. The organisers, Tim Raats (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and Tom Evens (Ghent University) took us on a canal and river trip. The Gala Dinner took place in a lovely restaurant next to the canal. During that night EMMA President – Ulrike Rohn announced the host of next year’s conference.
We are extremely happy that our application to host EMMA 2018 at the University of Warsaw in June 2018 was accepted. This means that the Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies will host around 100 participants specialised in media management in June next year with the support of London South Bank University. This also means that the findings from our project will be presented as a pre-conference day within the post-industrial Praga District in an old warehouse building. To suit the proposed theme of the conference which will look at data-driven platforms and media management the activities will use ‘un-conference’ approaches.
We very much look forward to all the events in Warsaw in 2018.
I spent the first week of April 2017 on a research trip to Detroit. We decided to look at Detroit because of its rich industrial history. Ford Motor Company was created in Michigan, General Motors has its headquarters in Detroit. We argue that public service media traditionally followed the Fordist model of mass production, standardization and hierarchies of power and control in the pure broadcast era. Detroit was also picked up also because of its famous art, design and music (Motown Records) traditions and also its dynamic regeneration plans.
Through the interviews I conducted it has become clear that the city face several challenges related to poverty, education, differences in quality of life, gentrification problems, alongside not having sufficiently good access to public transportation. This challenging environment when set alongside the aftermatch of the City’s bankruptcy has contributed to the growth of a wide range of initiatives aiming to foster societal improvement and the city renewal.
I started the study on Detroit with a visit to creative spaces. First of all MASH – a hub offering space for pop-ups, events and curated retail. The space is designed to foster ‘social organic collisions’ between makers, designers, artists and local communities in the Eastern neighbourhood. MASH brings together diverse groups of creative entrepreneurs as is also the case with Ponyride another co-working space located in the Corktown area. I was offered a free tour to see the daily work of creatives dealing with clothing, jewellery, cosmetics and many other industries. The Empowerment Plan – one of the largest of Ponyride’s companies in residence – hires people to produce water-resistant jackets which can transform into a sleeping bag. By making a donation this jacket can be given to someone in need.
Serving sustainability has become a core value of Green Garage – a space for 50 small businesses, non-profit organisations, and independent professionals who contribute to the overall environmental-friendly strategy of the Green Garage co-working space. Green Garage includes recycling, composting, energy reduction initiatives. On Fridays a community lunch is offered to residents and guests. The Friday lunch I attended was followed by a presentation and discussion on the launch of the first public bike system in Detroit.
Moving to accelerator programmes, further observations and interviews were conducted at TechTown and the Detroit Creative Corridor Center – which offers entrepreneurial services for tech and creative neighbourhood enterprises. I also travelled to Ann Arbor to participate in the TechArb Student Venture Accelerator event at the University of Michigan. Finally, I also visited DetroitLives! – an award-winning production studio and creative consultancy located in the Detroit Financial District. Among several projects such as street art, they are making films. One documentary is titled "After the Factory" (2012) and it compares Detroit with the Polish city of Łódź, also aiming to regenerate itself and move on from the Fordist model of production. I spoke with Philip Lauri – the Director of the movie.
Public service media have played active role in the processes of Detroit reinvention. For instance, Detroit Public TV has launched the ‘One Detroit’ project which tells stories based on engagement with citizens on their thoughts and ideas connected with public policy, health, environment, culture, and so on. Public radio (WDET) has launched ‘Framed by WDET’, an audiovisual series integrating photography and storytelling within ethnic and cultural communities. I was given a tour by one of the interviewees at WDET to show the changes they are working on connected to reform of the organisational culture of the institution. For example, the newsroom has been moved to a larger room in order to foster an open-desk strategy to encourage more collaboration between employees. The Mission of WDET includes the core values of public service media and these were pinned on almost every door in the public radio’s facilities.
The research trip to Detroit offered a life-time opportunity for a tour through the historic Eastern Market regarded as one of the clusters supporting the ecology of the food industry. I have also seen The Heidelberg Project – open-air art initiative.
Overall, I spotted several abandoned buildings in both in several neighbourhoods and in the city centre including factories, libraries and schools. Michigan Central Station itself closed down in 1988, something extremely extraordinary for a major Western city of North America.
March – and it’s time for Lizzie Jackson to visit Austin, Texas in the South West of the US. March is also when the SXSW Festival (South by South West) is on. Affectionately known as ‘South By’, by the locals.
It’s easy to see this is a digital tech city. 75,000 people arrive for SXSW which is a festival of component parts – for music, interactive services and content, gaming, film, and education. It’s also a time when the city can take stock of how it’s doing. The Mayors of Texas were having their annual convention when I was there. The Mayors of Nashville, Houston and Austin therefore made an appearance at 'South By’ to give their opinions on the new Administration in Washington. They are going to run things ‘our way’ locally, was the consensus.
Austin is a centre for the incubation of startups and to support the growth of scaleups. The presence of IBM, Google and banks from Silicon Valley is palpable. There is cheaper office space here and new talent drawn to the city by its cosmopolitan nature and Democrat leanings. According to Dr Elsie Echeverri-Carroll the clustering of high technology businesses has a ‘spiral’ effect. The movement of talented innovators out of the more mature and larger companies spawns new high technology businesses that stay in the area and prosper. The presence of incubators and accelerators also has a strong effect on growth.
At Capital Factory in the Downtown area the entrance lobby shows a logo board of companies who have been associated with the variety of programmes they host on a weekly basis. When I visited Capital Factory had organised several rooms on one floor dedicated to showcasing VR companies and their films and games. Incubators such as Techstars were attempting to continue with their development programmes for successful startups, however the wall of events inevitably included events at SXSW and showcases within the festival.
Austin proved to provide rich data for the project including interviews with industry leaders, innovators, academics, CEOs, and the public service media. It was clear the links between each of these foster innovation and change. What was also clear was the function of the University of Texas at Austin as a central point of knowledge exchange for the city.
We now need to begin coding the interviews, photos, and observations…but that’s to come, after we have visited Detroit, Warsaw, and London.
Two weeks ago I visited Copenhagen to do a series of semi-structured interviews and observations with public service media, local municipalities, co-working spaces, creative hubs, and so on. Copenhagen was windy and cold but humming with activity and people.
DR – the Danish Broadcasting Corporation – was revealed as having a good model for mixed media newsrooms. They have relocated the previously separated radio and TV departments and moved them to work together in a modern building – DR-Byen. I walked through the whole area and got a chance to see the facilities from the inside. One of the interviewees showed me the production halls, the newsroom, as well as the cafes, library and even a gym that’s been opened for the staff. The centre has easy access to transportation and the IT University of Copenhagen. This proximity will be a key driver of collaboration.
The capital city of Demark is well-known for a wide range of co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and the startup community. SOHO is a co-working space located in the old Meatpacking District. It’s now vibrant and full of galleries, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The area is also a community with private flats and other homes. Khora VR is based there. Khora is a production house, one of the first world’s Virtual Reality store, and also a hub for digital innovators. I had a chance to observe the work of their creative team in the VR Lab and also tried two VR demos.
A number of other interviews and observations took place in Republikken and Rainmaking Loft. Walks in the Christianshavn area led on to explorations of Freetown Christiania where an experimental community has been occupying and building small houses in the old dockland. Interviews at City Hall showed an openness to experimentation generally in Copenhagen which encourages mixed media working and multiculturalism. The streets of Nørrebro and beyond to Superkilen Park are filled with plants and objects from over 50 countries around the world. Bikes are everywhere; it seems that despite the snow Danes like to use pedal power.
We are excited that the project started to get attention from leaders in the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as well as journalists writing Media Power Monitor and academics in the Global PSM Experts Network.
We met again in Warsaw January 6–8, 2017 for a project meeting. During the two days in the Polish capital we firstly discussed book chapters we have submitted for a Peter Lang’s collection titled “Public Service Media Renewal and Digital Network Challenges”. Our chapters will present the first findings from our study; I have written about the successful and innovative high technology clusters in capital of Estonia and Lizzie about predictive analytics and behavioural targeting as a potential way of nuancing the delivery of public service content.
We discussed plans and milestones for the project to do with data analysis, future events such as European Media Management Association conference in Ghent (May 2017) as well as preparations for the field trips to Copenhagen (February 2017), Austin (March 2017) and Detroit (April 2017).
Next we conducted field work observations of winter festival “Otwarta Ząbkowska” (Open Ząbkowska) – an open air street event involving animators, artists, clubs, NGOs, municipalities and theatres in the Praga district of Warsaw. The weather was extremely cold, - 13 Degrees, cold enough for ice sculpturing.
The Praga district is a good example of creative initiatives growing in the Polish capital. Later in the Spring we will conduct interviews in Warsaw and London and this will end the period of data gathering.
Finally, we have made first preparations for the ‘MAKER’ event which will be organized at OMEARA – venue set up by the lead singer of the band Mumford & Sons (June 2017). The event is to construct models for public service media for and by Generation Z.