MEA @ ICA 2024

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The 74rd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association will take place this year in Gold Coast, Australia from June 20–24.

The conference theme is "Communication and Global Human Rights."

Since the MEA is an Association Organization of the ICA, we are automatically granted one panel as part of the conference program. The following is our program for this year.

Panel Title:
Media Ecology and Human Rights (and Wrongs)

Thom Gencarelli, Manhattan College, USA


1. "When Push Feels Like Pull: Early Adolescent Dependence on YouTube Recommendation Algorithms"
Scott Haden Church, Brigham Young University, USA

Algorithms are the new "power brokers in society" (Diakopoulos, 2013, para. 4) because they influence how users navigate the overabundance of media content. While extant literature on algorithms has been largely theoretical, this study contributes empirical data to the discussion by exploring how early adolescents (ages 10-13) select their entertainment on YouTube. In this quantitative study, the researchers analyzed surveys from 406 students in elementary and middle schools about their viewing choices on YouTube. Using the YouTube Algorithm Dependence (YAD) scale, the data revealed that those students who have the lowest dependency on the YouTube algorithm receive more YouTube video recommendations from parents and guardians than from the YouTube recommendation algorithm. In addition to introducing the YouTube Algorithm Dependence scale, the present study proposes a theoretical contribution in the form of articulating the convergent phenomenon called "negotiated technological choice," a unique mode of engagement between the user and the screen. When users select media content, there is a negotiated experience that oscillates between user preference (pull) and algorithmic recommendation (push; Negroponte, 1996). This concept may be used by media scholars to explore the tension between human agency and algorithmic recommendation. More importantly, this study offers insights into the impact of algorithms on early adolescent consumers of media.

2. "Human Rights and Technology: An Approach to the Impact of Media on Society"
Fernando Huerta-Galindo, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico
Ricardo Meneses-Trujillo, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico
Laura Trujillo-Liñán, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico

Human nature endows human beings with inalienable rights that lead them to appropriately perform their role in the world, and which allow them to know their obligations and the care they should have for themselves and their relationships with others. Individuals and societies should know, respect, and pursue these human rights. In this way, it is possible to understand the scope and limitations that exist in daily social interaction. Nowadays, interaction between individuals very often occurs through new technologies: social networks, text messages, memes, etc. However, the way they work, the algorithms, and the science behind personalization are hidden from users, and this compromises their appropriate use for societies, families, and individuals. This work aims to show these media's effects on society and how they have led to a decline in verbal communication and personal relationships.

3. "Mennipean Satire, or What Does a Name Mean? The Meaning and Demeaning of Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media 60 Years On"
Thom Gencarelli, Manhattan College, USA

Menippean satire is a form of satire that, rather than pick on people and things, takes on ideas, attitudes, values, and the like. And while some scholars define Marshall McLuhan's work and contributions as a form of mennipean satire, and while his son Eric perhaps contributed to this strain of scholarship with his dissertation, later published as a book, Cynic Satire, the idea that some of McLuhan's writing is not understood because it was never intended to be understood remains contested, and just one more source of scholarly disdain for this seminal figure in the field of media studies. This essay examines McLuhan's legacy – some 60 years on from the publication of his most influential work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man – and addresses why the respect and disrespect for his legacy is beside the point and largely irrelevant.

4. "Semantic Ecology and Media Ecology"
Lance Strate, Fordham University, USA

Media ecology is a field or approach defined as the study of media as environments. Defining media is a much broader way than elsewhere, three major categories of environments or media have been identified: the biophysical, technological, and symbolic. Media ecology scholarship also includes references to the media environment, and similar terms that have been used, including information environment, and semantic environment. The term semantic environment was introduced by Wendell Johnson, based on Alfred Korzybski's terms neuro-semantic environment and neuro-linguistic environment, and Neil Postman followed Johnson in discussing the concept of the semantic environment. While the idea of a semantic environment seems mostly closely related to the category of symbolic environment, it is arguably a broader concept that considers all of the ways in which organisms relate to and evaluate their environment, make meaning out of their world, and construct their reality. It follows that the designation semantic ecology could be used to refer to the study of semantic environments, and serve as a substitute for the term general semantics, a discipline that is considered part of the field of media ecology.

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