News

Professor Lisa Lewis and PhD student Gareth Bonello appeared on Red FM

Posted on July 27, 2017

Professor Lisa Lewis and PhD student Gareth Bonello appeared on Red FM, the local Shillong and north east India radio station, to discuss Welsh and Khasi music as part of the Welsh and Khasi Cultural Dialogues project.

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Professor Lisa Lewis was interviewed by The Shillong Time

Posted on July 26, 2017

Professor Lisa Lewis was interviewed by The Shillong Times (largest newspaper in north east India) about a performance of the Welsh and Khasi Cultural Dialogues project, held in Shillong last week.

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Professor Lisa Lewis appeared on Indian television on Sunday

Posted on July 18, 2017

Professor Lisa Lewis, co-director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations, appeared on Indian television on Sunday, on DD National TV Network and North East Indian cable channel PCN, to discuss the Leverhulme Trust funded research project Welsh and Khasi Cultural Dialogues, a project in film and performance investigating the shared cultural relationship between Wales and India. Lisa is currently running workshops with actors in Meghalaya, north east India.

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Professor Diana Wallace (FBS) appeared on BBC Radio Wales

Posted on July 18, 2017

Professor Diana Wallace appeared on BBC Radio Wales’s Good Morning Wales this morning to discuss the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death and the fact that she features on the new £10 note.

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Prof. Paul Carr publishes book on Pop icon Sting

Posted on July 3, 2017

Professor Paul Carr’s monograph of Pop icon Sting is released on August 1st. Published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the formation of The Police, Sting: From Northern Skies to Fields of Gold is the first book to examine the relationship between Sting’s working-class background in Newcastle and the creativity and inspiration behind his music. Focusing on the sometimes-blurry borderlines between nostalgia, facts, imagination and memories – as told by Sting, the people who knew (and know) him, and those who have written about him – Carr investigates the often complex resonance between local boy Gordon Sumner and the star the world knows as Sting. In doing so, the book highlights the ‘hidden history’ behind the processes and products of Sting’s creativity. Professor Carr is doing a number of book launches in Newcastle, including Sting’s hometown of Wallsend, towards the end of the year.

The book is available for preorder from Amazon.

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Being Human Festival in Merthyr Tydfil

Posted on July 3, 2017

Professor Paul Carr has been awarded funds from the AHRC to take part in this year’s Being Human Festival. The UK wide festival takes place between November 17th – 25th and deals with the broad theme of ‘lost and found’. During the week of activities professor Carr is working in partnership with stakeholders such as First Campus, Merthyr Tydfil Libraries, Theatre Soar and a number of local schools to bring alive the ‘lost history’ of popular music in Merthyr Tydfil, between the years 1955 to 1975. After collecting the memories of the community who witnessed the music first hand, the project proceeds to facilitate school children to recreate the memories via dramatic interpretations. These interpretations will be showcased in Theatre Soar on November 25th to the general public, alongside community interviews and digital recordings. Alongside six other projects from around the UK, the initiative was chosen to be showcased at Senate House in London on June 26th.

After the Being Human week is complete, professor Carr then begins planning for a month long exhibition at Merthyr Town Hall (The Red House), between January 25th – February 24th 2018. The Exhibition showcases the lost musical history of Merthyr Tydfil.

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Prof Diana Wallace (FBS) appeared on BBC Radio Wales

Posted on June 29, 2017

Professor Diana Wallace (FBS), member of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations, appeared on BBC Radio Wales’ Good Evening Wales yesterday to talk about Paddington Bear whose creator, the writer Michael Bond, has died aged 91.

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Dr Rob Campbell is interviewed in today’s South Wales Argus

Posted on May 30, 2017

Dr Rob Campbell, Academic Manager for Broadcasting & Journalism at USW, is interviewed in today’s South Wales Argus (p.62) in a feature on how the regional newspaper industry may change in the future.

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Dr Márta Minier co-organises a Welsh-Hungarian Music Day in memory of Zoltán Kodály

Posted on April 27, 2017

Dr Márta Minier, an active member of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations, is involved as a consultant co-organiser and educator in a Welsh-Hungarian Music Day organised in memory of eminent Hungarian composer and ethnomusicologist Zoltán Kodály (6 May 2017, Canton Uniting Church, Cardiff). In 2017 Hungarians commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kodaly’s death, who pioneered a music education system – the famous Kodály Method – that revolutionised the teaching of music to children well beyond his native Hungary. Kodály, who is equally reputed as a composer, a folk song collector and a pedagogue, is a Hungarian cultural export much appreciated in Wales. Testimony to this is the Kodaly Violin School based in Carmarthenshire, who are co-organisers of this bilingual event. Dr Minier’s expertise in Hungarian studies and in education is pivotal to the event.

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Prof. Ruth McElroy talks to the BBC about the accountability of the media in Wales.

Posted on April 27, 2017

Professor Ruth McElroy, co-director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations, talks to the BBC about the accountability of the media in Wales.

She told BBC Wales: “We have seen a great deal of closures of local newspapers. That’s been a long-standing theme, and it’s been greater in Wales than in the rest of the UK.

“I think what we have to do is be realistic that we are now in a digital age, and that modes of news delivery might be different in the future.”

She added ministers should be more prepared to intervene to support media in Wales.

“There definitely is a place for government intervention. I think that sometimes, in the UK, we have been hostile to that, almost ideologically.

“In other parts of the world they are not, and they are reaping the benefits as a result.”

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Dr Paul Carr appeared on ITV Wales and BBC Radio Wales.

Posted on April 24, 2017

Dr Paul Carr, Reader in Popular Music Analysis and steering group member of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations at the University of South Wales, appeared on ITV Wales to discuss the decline of live music venues in Wales.

Dr Carr also appeared on the Owen Money show on BBC Radio Wales to talk about his new project looking at music in Merthyr Tydfil between 1955 and 1975.


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Dr Paul Carr features in an interview on Welsh Connections

Posted on April 3, 2017

Paul Carr with Mike Kennedy, 02/04/16 : Merthyr Rising !

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IWA Media Summit 2017 Report

Posted on April 3, 2017

 

IWA Media Summit 2017: A look back and a look forward, by Rebecca Williams

On Wednesday 29th March 2017 the Institute for Welsh Affairs held its third annual Media Summit, bringing together academics, industry personnel and other key figures from the media sectors in Wales. Highlighting important issues such as the threat to journalism in a media landscape that is becoming increasingly digital, the future of Welsh language media, and how to create a sustainable workforce for the creative industries, the event allowed reflection on the complex and rapidly changing media ecology that small nations such as Wales must negotiate. Whilst crucial questions for the future of the media in Wales were raised, the third Media Summit also offers the opportunity for some looking back and reflection on where those of us interested in, and concerned about, the state of media in Wales have come from and where we currently are.

Where we are…

I first began to research Welsh media and culture back in 2008 when I took up a post as a Research Assistant at the University of South Wales (then the University of Glamorgan). Since then I have continued to research around topics including celebrity in small nations, the representations of place in television drama, and broader work on the links between mediated space and place and tourism. As part of the University of South Wales’ Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations I have watched with interest how the media in Wales – and our study and understanding of it – has developed over almost a decade. Working primarily on television, it was initially clear to me that, despite the work of organisations such as Cyfrwng: Media Wales Journal and the efforts of those academics researching across different mediums, there was a surprisingly limited amount of academic research. There was also an almost constant need to articulate the importance of studying the media in Wales, especially to those outside of the country who were often unfamiliar with the different media and cultural landscapes of the different UK nations.

Since then, we have seen several key changes. Jana Bennett’s announcement in 2008 of the BBC’s ‘Beyond the M25’ strategy to move production from the centrality of London to regions and nations including studios in Salford, Glasgow and, of course, Cardiff led to the creation of the Roath Lock BBC Studios. As the Centre for Small Nations’ research project on Roath Lock Drama Studios and the Creative Industries in Wales found, the studios were a welcome addition to the landscape of Welsh television drama production due to its ability to contribute to skills and its signalling of a more ambitious and confident era of Welsh production. The presence of Roath Lock, alongside other key organisations such as Wales Screen, has undoubtedly helped attract big budget productions on both the big and small screens. It is doubtful whether ten years ago a Hollywood blockbuster such as the sequel to Jurassic World would be planning to film in the Brecon Beacons this Summer, for example. However, the security afforded to those working in the creative industries remains an area of concern, given the precarious nature of fixed-term contracts and the inevitable ebb and flow of productions in the country. Such issues were discussed at length at the IWA Summit’s panel on ‘A sustainable media workforce’ where the negotiation between the advantages of flexible working and the security of long-term employment was a key theme, alongside debates about improving accessibility to the media and creative industries for those in minority groups. Whilst conscious of these issues, the panel, and the audience however, remained confident that Wales’ success as a small nation also offers opportunities for doing things differently and rethinking how sustainability and security can be encouraged.

Journalism, news media and the ‘democratic deficit’

In the past ten years there have also been improvements in how news media reports on the nuances of politics and governance in an increasingly stratified United Kingdom which sees devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. As the realities of Brexit become clearer, it remains to be seen how United the Kingdom will truly be. However, recent research from Cardiff University has highlighted how the BBC has made some improvement with their blog for the IWA summit commenting on the fact that there are “more reporters covering Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and greater clarity in communicating the devolved relevance of policy issues”. Despite this, there are clear threats to the media in Wales. The Media Summit featured a panel asking ‘Will journalistic professionalism survive in Wales?’ which discussed the limits to civic participation. The panel drew further attention to the so-called ‘democratic deficit’ wrought by the decline in circulation of print newspapers and the concentration of ownership by large organisations such as Trinity Mirror. Even as the emergence of local print papers and hyperlocal news offers hope for a changing news landscape, issues over ethics and professional codes of conduct remain. As the panel demonstrated, whether the relatively small press within Wales can truly hold politicians and those in power to account remains a thorny issue.

The future of Welsh language media

The future of Welsh language media is perhaps even more precarious given cuts to S4C’s funding for broadcasting and the extremely limited availability of Welsh-language newspapers. However, S4C’s online strategies have reaped rewards with promising use of its Clic catch-up service and presence on i-Player, whilst social media platforms such as Twitter offer opportunities for connecting with others who speak the language, as well as making visible the enduring use of Welsh in everyday life. The panel dedicated to this topic dealt with these issues, as well as considering the possibilities offered by examining the broadcasting models offered by other minority language nations in Spain and Canada. There is clearly much to learn from countries with broadly comparable cultural and media landscapes, both in terms of English and Welsh language broadcasting. As the Centre for Small Nation’s recent project on Television in Small Nations discovered, there are shared challenges including “less access to talent, fewer capital resources, higher production costs, and a smaller market for advertising and license fee revenue”. However, engaging in knowledge exchange with international partners also allows us to develop approaches to dealing with the tensions inherent in the need for local, regional and national media in an increasingly globalised media world.

Portrayal and representation

As a researcher who has primarily focused on issues of representation and portrayal of Wales on-screen, it was interesting to me to see how little they were really addressed at the Summit. It was touched on in various panels but only really brought to the fore in the Interview between Professor Jane McCloskey and Charlotte Moore, who is currently Director of Content for the BBC. The IWA Media Audit in 2015 identified portrayal as a crucial area for improvement and, in this interview, Moore discussed the importance of the balance between moving production into regions and nations and the importance of the opportunities for increased portrayal that this offers. Similar conclusions were reached by the Small Nations Centre’s project on Roath Lock, which found that those who were involved in it were disappointed in the lack of production of Welsh stories and no upturn in the visibility of Wales across the network. There is, however, cause to be hopeful. At the Summit, Charlotte Moore noted the increase in spend in terms of what is being made in Wales but expressed a desire to still encourage Welsh content from Welsh writers and directors. This, coupled with an apparent desire to contribute a substantial chunk of the extra £8million that BBC Wales will see in its funding to producing content for the network that portrays Wales on-screen, offers some optimism for the future. Given the requirement that the BBC represent all the nations and regions of the UK, it is to be hoped that a new flagship network drama or comedy series reflecting Wales (in all its complexities) can be developed.

Considering the Welsh audience

As we consider where we go next in terms of researching and understanding the state of the media in Wales it seems to me that there remains huge value in turning to those who actually consume and use it – the audience. There continues to be a dearth in audience research about the varied viewers, listeners, readers, or browsers in Wales. The statistical analysis provided in Claire Enders’ fascinating and detailed opening talk on ‘The future of media in Wales’ at the Media Summit tells us much about the demographics of who is engaging but it cannot tell us why. It is seven years since the publication of the BBC Audience Council for Wales report on Screening the Nation that I worked on, and whilst the the IWA’s Media Audit in 2015 offered an incredibly broad and detailed overview of policy documents and existing studies, sustained empirical audience research fell outside of its remit. I would like to urge those of us who are concerned about where we go from here to consider a return to empirical audience research that draws on qualitative approaches – interviews, focus groups, analysis of online discussion and practices. Such methods are labour-intensive and can be costly but, as prior empirical research has shown us, they are key to truly understanding the importance of the media and culture in Wales. For example, my own recent research into the links between celebrity in Wales, the development of creative industries in Cardiff, and audience encounters with mediated figures highlighted the complex links between celebrity, representations and embodiments of national identity, and the ‘value’ accorded to places when media production occurs there and famous people are seen there. By way of closing, then, I would advocate that, in addition to the detailed policy work and industry/academic engagement that those of us researching the media in Wales already undertake, we take advantage of audience research to help us better understand how they people in Wales are using the media that they have, what they want, and why this matters to them.

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Dr Ruth McElroy features on i online

Posted on April 3, 2017

Dr Ruth McElroy, co-director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations, comments in the i online on the continuing popularity of British crime drama,such as Vera and Midsomer Murders

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Dr Rebecca Williams featured in a film at the No Boundaries symposium

Posted on March 31, 2017

Dr Rebecca Williams, Senior Lecturer in Communication, Culture and Media Studies at the University of South Wales, featured on a film about her research on Post-object Fandom. The film was watched by about 500 delegates across 2 conference sites (Manchester and Hull) and live-streamed for online audiences as part of the No Boundaries symposium, 28-29 March 2017.

For further details and to watch the film, please see here.

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