by Dr Dan Jackson, CMC senior lecturer
Last week I attended the ECREA Political Communication section’s conference entitled: “NEW TRENDS IN POLITICAL COMMUNICATION: Evidence, theories, implications, opportunities”. Upon paper acceptance we were told to expect hotels to be in high demand during the conference. It was only once I arrived that I realized why: it was Milan fashion week. Luckily I was well prepared, as you can see from this photo of me – I’m the most fashionable person in shot. The fact that I am eating at the time of this photo is purely coincidental…
I was also lucky enough chosen as one of four “top papers” at the conference – the first award of this type for me. The paper, “New platform, old habits? Candidates’ use of Twitter during the 2010 British and Dutch general election campaigns” was the outcome of a project with Todd Graham and Marcel Broersma (both from University of Groningen). We are preparing it for journal submission in the next week or so and we got some really valuable feedback from presenting it at the conference.
The keynote was given by Prof Stephen Coleman (pictured right) from the University of Leeds. He has a fantastic ability to see the bigger picture of our field, and take forward our thinking on the media and democracy. Anyone who has read his work will know how highly he is regarded in this field.
Here are some of my observations from this conference:
– ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association) is a good organization to be associated with. It’s young as far as academic organisations go, but many of the top scholars in our field are attending and the organization is making things happen. There is always a good mix of young and old at ECREA events and the quality of papers is usually high.
– In the first plenary session the conference showcased an ongoing comparative project on political news in 15 European media systems. It is very impressive work, and is evidence of the increasing move towards comparative research amongst European communication scholars.
– If this conference is anything to go by, then political communications research is currently heavily focused on the internet and new media. In this sense, it’s very much like current trends in PR, advertising and marketing research.
– European political communication researchers favour quantitative methods, and I sense in general are way ahead of us in their quantitative competence.
– The international reputation of Bournemouth University in the field of political communication is good, and it is growing: people know about us and want to work with us.
A final reflection is this: conferences are incredibly creative experiences as a researcher. I always find my ideas move forward as a result of attending a conference. Moreover, I see the genesis of many future projects during a conference; often facilitated by alcohol I must add. I came away from this conference with at least two future projects planned, both of which are with people I met at this conference.