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2009 December 2

Expert Workshop on Media - Sweden

The second workshop of the Mercator Network took place on the 1st and 2nd of December 2009 in Eskilstuna, Sweden, led by the Mälardalen University. The purpose of the workshop was to contextualize the upcoming Mercator Network conference on multilingualism and media, to be carried out on 18th and 19th May 2010 in Aberystwyth, Wales.

Tuesday afternoon the partners had a network meeting and on the same evening there was a welcome session and opportunity for first informal meeting with some of the experts. On Wednesday along with the network partners, a group of renowned academics and experts on media and language joined the workshop, during which relevant topics for multilingual media production, as well as the specifics of media produced in minority languages were discussed. The workshop was arranged to coincide with the Erkänd3 (Recognize), a conference devoted to minority recognition in Sweden, and which also had media as the main topic, thus creating synergies between the various European experts and the local media producers, who were able to exchange experiences and information through the conference. There were in addition to scientific participants, both presenters and participants from media in several countries. These presentations concerned radio, television, educational broadcasting and new media.
The workshop with the expert group was followed by an expert seminar open to non-academic public. A handful of experts was discussing the following topics: TV/radio, new media/technology and youth/media, all with a connection to minority languages.

The topics that were discussed in the experts’ workshop were:

  • Language planning / Ethnographical approach: The tools that need to develop for language planning must engage in ethnographical accounts of the language situations, with a specific need for exploring the circumstances of each language community from within.
  • Multiple and hyperidentities: People now have a variety of identifications which include linguistic, national, and transnational identities, yet now they also identify beyond their borders through information technologies that have provide them with overarching hyperidentities. Thus, simplification of the identity issues to localised and nation-specific needs would ignore this new development.
  • Participatory culture (youth, retirement): There are new ways of interaction between people and their communities. Media enables a growing number of participatory spaces where specific groups are able to voice their needs and interests. There needs to be more research on this participatory culture.
  • Cross-border media: Although it is more open than ever before, cross-border media remains a whole new thing. With the availability of video on the web, and changing regulations within states about the broadcasting media (especially with the advent of digital terrestrial television), the importance of cross-border media heightens, and the need for regulation which accepts and understands this specific media requirement should also be an important part of the agenda.
  • Translation, audience research and fragmentation: There is still much to be discovered and addressed regarding translation of media products, and their actual availability in a multilingual society. Furthermore, minority and non-state language media have had very little attention from audience research studies, and their interests, views and behaviour with the media in their language or in other languages, are very important. Also the issue of audience fragmentation becomes relevant, since audience will be fragmented not only along lines of interests and tastes but also of language use and availability.

These topics were considered to be fundamental to be discussed in the following Mercator Conference in Aberystwyth, Wales, and were included in the Call for Papers prepared for the conference. The experts and academics invited to the workshop, as well as the local media producers and presenters were immediately interested in the upcoming conference and its conclusions.