Media Sector Development Working group - Call for Proposals 2021

The Media Sector Development (MSD) Working Group of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) invites the submission of proposals for single papers and multi-paper sessions (the online conference equivalent of a panel in a face to face conference) for IAMCR 2021, which will be held online from 11 to 15 July, 2021. The conference will also have a regional hub in Nairobi, Kenya. Both the online conference and the regional hub will be hosted by the Department of Journalism & Corporate Communication of United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa) in Nairobi. The deadline for submission is 9 February 2021, at 23.59 UTC.

See the IAMCR 2021 general call for proposals


IAMCR conferences address a wide diversity of themes defined by our 33 thematic sections and working groups. We also propose a single central theme to be explored throughout the conference with the aim of generating and exploring multiple perspectives. This theme is addressed in plenary and special sessions, and in some sessions of the sections and working groups. Not all submissions have to address this central theme. 

The central theme for IAMCR 2021, Rethinking borders and boundaries: Beyond the global/local dichotomy in communication studies, is concerned with how changes in communication theory and practice are challenging our understanding of global and local, creating new identities and discourses, and enabling a hybrid glocalisation, with both positive and negative consequences. 

Five sub-themes of this central theme have been identified: The rebirth of populist discourses; Activism and the new global social justice movements; Trends in global media ecosystems; Identity: Gender, class, ethnicity, religion, sexuality; and Communication for development in health, climate change and education. See the complete theme description and rationale here.

Conference model: Online with an African "hub" and global satellite activities

In alignment with the possibilities offered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the conference’s main theme, Rethinking Borders and Boundaries, IAMCR 2021’s conference will offer multiple modalities for participation. It will be primarily an online conference but will also have an African “hub” at USIU-Africa, and satellite activities at various points around the globe.The various components of the conference include:

1. Online Conference Papers – Abstracts submitted in response to the section and working groups CfPs will be reviewed by the sections and working groups and accepted authors will be invited to submit short conference papers (1,000 to 4,000 words). These papers will be grouped into sessions and published on the conference website prior to the conference on a platform that will enable discussion the conference.

2. Section and Working Group Online Sessions – IAMCR sections and working groups will curate a number of video sessions highlighting key issues within their thematic areas of specialisation.

3. Flow34 – A stream featuring videos that integrate academic and aesthetic narratives. Proposals for this component will be reviewed by the Flow34 team. Topics can originate from the entire field of Communication and Media Studies. The selected videos will be scheduled and presented on the conference platform.

4. Plenary Sessions – Several plenary sessions streamed from the conference hub at USIU-Africa will feature contributions from around the globe. 

5. Special and Partner Sessions – These video sessions will be produced by IAMCR and its partners. 

6. Nairobi Hub – In addition to being at the centre of the global online activities, the conference hub, at USIU-Africa, will host a regional face-to-face event (in accordance with the possibilities afforded by the pandemic). The regional event will interact with the global at several moments of the conference. 

7. Other Regional/National Hubs – We are currently considering the involvement of other regional and national hubs and will be accepting requests from IAMCR members interested in sponsoring them. 

This call for proposals is for the Online Conference Papers.

IAMCR members will have full access to all online components.

The Media Sector Development Working Group invites you to submit papers on the following theme:

What’s next for media development?

For IAMCR 2021, our working group will look at the practices of media development amidst the changing geo-politics of media, the shifting norms surrounding journalism, and a growing effort to de-westernize media studies. Note: our working group may invite one or more of the accepted papers/ panels to be part of a planned publication for a special issue of an academic journal.

We ask you to consider the efforts of actors around the globe to shape the laws and institutions that determine how media systems change and develop within a variety of national contexts and legacies. These efforts encompass a myriad of activities—policy advocacy, training and capacity building for journalists, the formation of professional associations, the reform of public service media, among others—and constitute a field of practice and international cooperation known as “media development.” Equitable access to information, good governance, democracy, civic rights, cultural rights, communication power, and poverty eradication are all cited among the justifications for media development efforts, with implications for how this work is supported and carried out.

What is becoming of media development—and how can it be reconceptualized—amid fundamental changes to the political economy of the media sector and the shifting of geo-political powers that have been foundational to the global media sphere in the eight decades since the end of WWII? And how can we make these interventions more effective by linking them to context and by building a participatory engagement with local actors?

You are invited that offer revaluations and potential alternatives to normative views of media development. What media is needed to tackle ultra-nationalism, polarization, misinformation, racism, and bigotry? We are especially eager to move past Western blue-prints, hegemonic notions of media development, and authoritarian models to explore post-colonial and post-modern conceptions that can guide more inclusive and reciprocal efforts—locally, nationally, and globally—that remain in line with international standards of human rights.

Please feel free to explore strategies and pathways to media development that contend with contemporary challenges in the sector such as:

  • Models of media development: between normative Western, hybrid or alternative models
  • Programmes of journalism training/mentoring/support in the worlds of journalism.
  • Media capture in the digitized communication sphere: models of resilience/resistance.  
  • Evaluation of training for journalists by journalists. Did they receive a genuine support and how this training has changed or influenced their practices? 
  • New concepts of new or hybrid media systems?
  • What possible business model for independent media? What are the lessons learned so far? 
  • What possible responses to the declining public trust in media, in the post-trust and misinformation era?

Guidelines for abstracts

Abstracts submitted to the Media Sector Development Working Group should have between 300 and 500 words and must be submitted online via IAMCR's online submission platform. Abstracts submitted by email will not be accepted. 

It is expected that authors will submit only one (1) abstract. However, under no circumstances should there be more than two (2) abstracts bearing the name of the same author, either individually or as first author. No more than one (1) abstract can be submitted by an author to the Media Sector Development Working Group. Please note also that the same abstract or another version with minor variations in title or content must not be submitted to more than one section or working group. Any such submissions will be deemed to be in breach of the conference guidelines and will be rejected.

Proposals are accepted for both single papers and multi-paper sessions (the online conference equivalent of a panel in a face to face conference). Please note that there are special procedures for submitting multi-paper sessions. You can find the detailed procedures when submitting your abstract online in the abstract submission system.

If your abstract is accepted, you will need to submit your full conference paper (1,000 to 4,000 words) by 7 June 2021, in order to be included in the programme.


The Media Sector Development Working Group accepts abstracts and full papers in Spanish and English.

The deadline to submit abstracts is 9 February 2021 at 23h59 UTC.

See important dates and deadlines to keep in mind

For further information about the conference contact nairobi2021 [at]

For further information about the Media Sector Development Working Group, its themes, submissions and multi-paper sessions please contact:

Nicholas Benequista, nbenequista [at]
Susan Abbott, w1622663 [at]
Winston Mano, w.mano [at]
Jairo Alfonso Lugo-Ocando, jairo.lugo-ocando [at]