The Official Newsletter for the Media Ecology Association


January 2023

New Year, New In Media Res . . . 

A new year brings with it a new MEA Executive Board and new opportunities for scholarly collaboration in Media Ecology. This issue of In Media Res features a messages from the President of MEA, Michael Plugh of Manhattan College, as well as updates on upcoming conference presentations and calls for papers.

This newsletter also features a message inviting reviewers on the Explorations in Media Ecology and opportunities for funding from the Urban Communication Foundation. We conclude with an invitation from the newsletter editor, Austin Hestdalen, for members to submit their thoughts for future segments in MEA Booknotes, MEA Scholarship in Brief, and Media Ecology at Work

In this issue . . . 

  • MEA Presidential Message
  • Update from MEA Liaisons to the ICA, ECA, and NCA
  • Message from Explorations in Media Ecology Editorial Team 
  • Upcoming Deadlines for Submission Paper Calls
  • Funding Opportunities from the Urban Communication Foundation
  • Year in Review: An Invitation from the Newsletter Editor

Message from the Media Ecology Association President
Michael Plugh, Manhattan College

Greetings and a very Happy New Year to all of you in our media ecology community. I’m very proud to assume the presidency of the Media Ecology Association for this calendar year, 2023. Many years ago, as I was searching for an outlet for my intellectual work, inspired by the writing of Neil Postman, I stumbled upon the MEA’s listserv and began to engage with many of you. Those engagements set me on a path of study, teaching, and fellowship that has finally led to this happy duty. The Media Ecology Association continues to be a vibrant community of scholars, artists, and fellow travelers, and it’s always worth taking stock of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we hope to go in the future.

In 2022, the MEA proudly hosted our first convention south of the equator, at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many thanks are due to Immediate Past President Adriana Braga for bringing so many of us to Brazil, where we continued our pursuit of high-quality scholarship and rich associations. The PUC-Rio community welcomed us with open arms, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the faculty, staff, students, and community members who helped us affirm our work and our bonds with one another. Throughout the year, the MEA Board worked to increase our engagement with membership and our outreach to new individuals, publishing high quality work in our journal, Explorations in Media Ecology, and connecting with curious folks outside our community, via Virtual Coffee sessions.

I’d like to thank outgoing EME editor, Ernie Hakanen for his outstanding service and commitment to our journal, and to incoming editor Peggy Cassidy for her many efforts to come. I’d also like to acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by Julia Hildebrand for her piloting of the Virtual Coffee program. We’re lucky to have her continued presence on the Board. More thanks are due to outgoing Member-at-Large Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, who provided a wonderful spirit, sage advice, and a deep commitment to the field of media ecology and the MEA, specifically. We’re lucky to welcome Austin Hestdalen to the Board, as he assumes the editorship of this newsletter, relieving Jeff Bogacyk who was happily elected as a new Member-at-Large. And, finally, we’re also very happy to welcome our VP-Elect, Heather Stassen, who will be planning and hosting our 25th annual convention at Daemen University in Buffalo, NY.

I’m excited to extend our nearly 25 years of success into this new year. In the coming weeks and months, I hope to debut some new projects for our membership, and to support our efforts in increasing outreach. The MEA Board will hold our annual meeting on Saturday, January 28th at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus, after which we will have a number of exciting updates for you. Please keep us in your hearts, minds, and calendars for this upcoming year. Each of you makes the MEA world go round, and we’re grateful for your company on this ongoing mission of ours.


Mike Plugh

President, Media Ecology Association

Convention Updates: ICA, ECA, & NCA Liaisons

From the MEA’s liaison to the International Communication Association

Thom Gencarelli, Manhattan College

The 73rd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association will take place this year at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from May 25-29. 

The conference theme is “Reclaiming Authenticity in Communication.”

As 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 Toronto.

We hope to see you there!

MEA Programming at the 73rd Annual Conference of the ICA

“Media Ecology and Authenticity in the 21st Century”

Chair: Thom Gencarelli, Manhattan College, USA

“High Heels as Mobile Media? (Im)mobilities and Feminist Ecologies”

Julia M. Hildebrand, Eckerd College, USA

“You Can’t Say What You Don’t See, Think, and Feel: The Underpinnings of Authentic Communication in Marshall McLuhan, Ursula Franklin, and Sherry Turkle”

Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, University of Winnipeg, CANADA

“Canada as Counter-environment: Canadian Democracy in a Digital World”

Phil Rose, Independent Scholar, CANADA

“The Non-Hierarchical Network as Form/Pattern/Medium”

Lance Strate, Fordham University, USA

“Truth as a Base of Authentic Communication”

Laura Trujillo Liñán, Universidad Panamericana, MEXICO

MEA @ ICA Paper Abstracts

"High Heels as Mobile Media? (Im)mobilities and Feminist Ecologies"
Julia M. Hildebrand, Eckerd College, USA

This paper critically explores the high heel as a mobile medium by discussing the contentious footwear through the lens of media ecology. Employing the McLuhans’ “laws of media” or “tetrad,” this paper highlights what the high heel enhances, obsolesces, retrieves from the past, and flips into when pushed to an extreme.  This tetradic reading of the high heel also draws on contemporary feminist media studies, critical mobilities research, and fashion history to advance a feminist media ecology subfield.  Ultimately, the paper shows to what extent the high heel is an ambiguous and divisive medium that extends the female and male body, shapes and is shaped by past and present cultural, social, and political environments, and affords a range of physical, corporeal, social, imaginative, and affective (im)mobilities.

"You Can’t Say What You Don’t See, Think, and Feel: The Underpinnings of Authentic Communication in Marshall McLuhan, Ursula Franklin, and Sherry Turkle"

Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, University of Winnipeg, CANADA

To be “authentic,” communication needs to be informed.  McLuhan, Franklin, and, more recently, Turkle each tell us something about the requirements of authenticity, grounding it in perceptual acuity, mental agility, and emotional commitment.  McLuhan often played with the idea that “believing is seeing” to explore perceptual blockages that make some things stand forward while rendering others invisible.  He urged us to train ourselves to take in more of the world. Franklin’s approach, more cognitive, placed emphasis on the need for clear and critical thinking to enable the necessary process of discrimination and decision-making.  Turkle emphasizes affect and relationships, arguing we need to practice ethical and flexible caring. Taken together as forming the basis of authentic communication, these traits have less to do with heartfelt commitment or moral intensity than with self-educated attention and preparation: authenticity requires perceptual and mental acuity, coupled with caring.

"Canada as Counter-environment: Canadian Democracy in a Digital World"

Phil Rose, Independent Scholar, CANADA

This presentation follows Innis, McLuhan, and others in exploring the concept of space but does so in relation to the survival and evolution of Canadian democracy within our emerging digital world.  First considering the spatial implications of Canadian geography, the country’s constitution and institutions, along with the federal government's spending power, it then considers those associated with economic staples, and particularly how these affect our institutional infrastructure, especially in disturbing cases of  “state capture.”  Alongside identifying and addressing a number of concerns relating to digital space as now configured and which will require fundamental reform, I also probe the concept of “inner space” or interiority.  I will do this specifically in relation to its role as one of the most valuable resources of the digital age, not only in its commercial exploitation, but also in terms of its defense, ultimately in the service of mobilising towards a more democratic culture.  In demonstrating how Canada, following McLuhan, might function as a 'counter-environment' that makes the “world environment” of the United States perceptible to its global occupants, I maintain that what we require is the exact same cultural remedy that Innis prescribed to counter the biases of the time-annihilating electronic space of his own time.  Namely, what is required is the retrieval of what Innis referred to as “oral tradition,” accompanied by the necessary and concomitant re-embedding of people within their local communities.

"The Non-Hierarchical Network as Form/Pattern/Medium"

Lance Strate, Fordham University, USA

The field of media ecology is characterized by a broader definition of the key term “medium” than can be found elsewhere, one that is neither limited to materialist conceptions nor formalist ones, but rather includes both.  A medium may be a physical technology, or a technique, hardware or software, a tool or a language, a machine or a symbol system, a gadget or a code, an artifact or a pattern.  Form or pattern as a type of medium is associated with Susanne Langer’s focus on symbolic form and Marshall McLuhan’s emphasis on formal cause and pattern recognition, as well as Gregory Bateson’s interest in metapatterns, and Bateson and Edmund Carpenter’s search for patterns that connect, while formal cause and systems concepts such as emergence and autopoiesis also suggest that there are patterns that direct.  Over the past several decades, one particular type of form or pattern that has become increasingly more prominent is that of the network, both the decentralized and distributed network.  Both are variations on the general category of non-hierarchical network, in contrast to traditional hierarchical patterns. Lewis Mumford and McLuhan both identified electrical technology as decentralizing, while the Internet, dating back to its 1969 origin as the ARPANET, brought the concept of the distributed network into prominence.  While best known in the context of computer and telecommunications technology, this pattern has also been applied to interpersonal and group communication, aka network theory; to neurological structure and functioning, to biological evolution, and even to the phenomenon of time as it is understood in contemporary physics.

"Truth as a Base of Authentic Communication"

Laura Trujillo Liñán, Universidad Panamericana, MEXICO

For several years now, communication between human beings has been characterized by unfounded opinions, and by a rejection of the existence of truths that underpin human action and behavior.  This has led us to online and offline relativism.  Likewise, the lack of clear foundations has led society to lose the meaning of life and to take, as a basis the life, actions and beliefs of the models presented to us by the media.  It is for this reason that it is necessary to return to the truth, to know it, find it and put it at the centre of our thoughts and actions.  In this way we will be able to redirect our lives, our thoughts, and our actions to make the world a better place.

From the MEA Liaison to the Eastern Communication Association

Robert Foschia, Penn State, York

At ECA, the media ecology association will have two panels, one a traditional panel format that will be focused on new media technologies, and one in line with the conference focus of ‘innovation’ that will feature a walking tour of Baltimore to help understand how innovative technologies have changed the physical geography and cultural imaginary of the city.  The panel will feature speakers looking back on the history media ecology as a reactive discipline, pointing out that McLuhan defined as a field focused on the changing technological landscape and well-suited for addressing technological change.    

The innovative panel will feature “moving” presentations focused on the facial recognition ability of traffic cameras, the technological impact of stadiums in the city, and the city itself as a technological form that organizes and standardizes behaviors. The conference looks to be an exciting and stimulating time, and we hope to see you there! 

From the MEA Liaison to the National Communication Association

Austin Hestdalen, Duquesne University

The theme of the 109th Annual Convention of the National Communication Association is, simply, "Freedom." This theme offers membership of the opportunity to revisit discussions of hard and soft technological determinism as well as explore new conversations related to how media limit the freedoms based on race, gender, ability, age, and class. Digital technologies afford greater freedoms for engaging others across time and space, but also bring potential threats of misinformation and wide-scale, technical failures. 

I encourage submitters to also consider past and present questions of how media condition and constrain freedoms of thought, word, and deed. 

The submission portal is open on NCA Convention central and will close on March 29th at 11:59 p.m. (PDT)

We are also seeking interested members to be reviewers, panel chairs, and respondents. Please Contact Austin Hestdalen ( if you are interested in serving MEA at NCA in any way.

We look forward to your submissions and connecting with you in National Harbor, Maryland!

Message from the Explorations in Media Ecology Editorial Team

Austin Hestdalen, Managing Editor

The editorial team of Explorations in Media Ecology, the academic Journal of the Media Ecology Association, is excited to invite scholarly papers, book reviews, poetry, and artistic contributions from the association membership submissions for upcoming issues. 

Submissions for Issue 22.1 have already been accepted and all materials have been sent along to Intellect for publication. We look forward to submissions for future issues of the journal and encourage members to works embracing diverse theoretical, philosophical and methodological approaches to the study of media and diverse processes of mediation. 

The journal is in particular need of reviewers. Questions about submissions and opportunities for review should be sent to Austin Hestdalen, EME Managing Editor (

Call for Papers

The Twenty-Fourth Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association

New York City
June 22–25, 2023

The Media Ecology Association (MEA) invites the submission of papers and proposals for panels for presentation at its 24th Annual Convention, which will be held June 22–25, 2023 in New York City. The deadline for submissions is January 31st, 2023. While we are open to explorations on any topic of interest to media ecologists, we also include a convention theme with the aim of generating further discussion and probes involving multiple perspectives. Submissions do not have to address the theme, but are invited to do so.

The theme of the 2023 convention is “Arts/Symbol/Context/Meanings.” In this time of global pandemic, political breakdowns, environment devastation, and mass confusion, we look to the arts and artists: what do the arts have to teach us? Media Ecology has a long and honored connection to the arts. In abandoning established forms of academic expression, Marshall McLuhan was fond of quoting Ezra Pound’s dictum “the artist is the antennae of the race.” Philosopher Susanne Langer underscored the contributions of artists to human knowledge as those who put “feeling into form” in a way that speech is unable to do. Neil Postman and Christine Nystrom urged the centrality of context in understanding the meaning of symbols and insisted on humor and plain language to communicate some of the most penetrating and enduring ideas of media ecology. In short, the arts employ forms and symbols that shape our view of the world, give us tools for thought, and allow us to reshape, re-imagine and re-contextualize our world.

The annual meeting of the MEA provides an opportunity for our community of scholars, artists, educators, professionals and practioners to exchange experiences and ideas in a friendly environment. Participants at MEA conventions address a wide diversity of topics in our programs, and we encourage submissions that explore media ecological approaches from any number of different disciplines and fields of knowledge and social practice. We seek papers, thematic panels, roundtable discussion panels, creative projects, performance sessions, and other proposals of interest to media ecologists.

New York City, traditionally a stronghold and showcase of both the popular and fine arts, will be the context in which our discussion takes place. The home of the Bowery and Broadway, doowop and opera, wall graffiti and some of the finest art museums in the world, New York will provide the backdrop to our conversation about the arts, symbols, contexts and meanings. Held at various locations in New York, participants will have ample opportunity to explore the rich cultural life of the City and not be confined to just one venue or neighborhood.

Guidelines for Submission

Please submit paper and panel proposals, in English, by January 31st, 2023 to A maximum of two submissions per author will be accepted. Authors who wish to be considered for the Top Paper or Top Student Paper award must indicate this on their submission(s).

Submission Guidelines for paper and panel proposals:

  1. Include title(s), abstract(s) (maximum 250 words), and contact information for each participant.
  2. Outline, as relevant, how your paper or panel will fit with the convention theme.
  3. Authors with papers submitted as part of a panel proposal or as a paper proposal who wish to be considered for Top Paper or Top Student Paper must send the completed manuscript (see guidelines below) to the convention planners by April 28, 2023.

Submission guidelines for manuscripts for authors who wish to be considered for the Top Paper or Top Student Paper award:

  1. Manuscripts should be 4,000–6,000 words (approximately 15 to 25 double-spaced pages)
  2. Include a cover page with your institutional affiliation and other contact information.
  3. Include an abstract (maximum 150 words).

    Grant Opportunities from the Urban Communication Foundation

    Since our launch in 2005, the Urban Communication Foundation has provided awards and grants to dozens of distinguished scholars, researchers, and journalists to recognize and support provocative work that contributes in significant ways to the discourse around urban communication issues.

    While most of our recipients hail from academia and journalism, we also encourage submissions from other practitioners whose work will lend new insights into the discipline, raise broader awareness of related socio-political, economic, and cultural concerns, or influence public policy. 

    Current Grants include:

    • UCF Mini-Grants
    • James Carey Grant Urban Communication Grant
    • Michael Brill Grant in Urban Communication and Urban Design
    • Applied Urban Communication Grant
    • UCF/IAMCR Urban Communication Research Grant
    • Gene Burd Grant for Research in Urban Journalism Studies
    • Media Ecology/UCF Student Research Grant

    While most of our recipients hail from academia and journalism, we also encourage submissions from other practitioners whose work will lend new insights into the discipline, raise broader awareness of related socio-political, economic, and cultural concerns, or influence public policy, including:

    • architects
    • urban planners
    • environmental psychologists
    • geographers
    • political and other social scientists
    • philosophers and ethicists
    • artists

    In addition, the Feb. 1st deadline for the MEA/UCF Student Research Grant is Rapidly Approaching. The MEA/UCF Student Research Grant offers support in the amount of $2500 and a scholarly publication in Explorations in Media Ecology, the MEA Academic Journal. 

    Proposals should be grounded in a theoretical or philosophical approach associated with the field of media ecology and should address topics of media ecological concern regarding the study of cities and urban environments as they relate to human communication, social interaction, technological mediation, and cultural change and continuity. Proposals concerned with identity and affiliation in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and other differences that make a difference are encouraged.

    Proposals will be evaluated via anonymous review, and in addition to the stipend, the author(s) will receive complimentary membership in the Media Ecology Association (including subscription to Explorations in Media Ecology) for the year of the award and registration at our annual convention. A program session at the annual convention will be devoted to the research study, and when completed, the study will be published in Explorations in Media Ecology (which would not preclude publication elsewhere). The competition will be open to graduate students registered for degree programs and who have been Media Ecology Association members for at least one year.

    To learn more about the Foundationʼs grants and awards, as well as our current and past recipients and their work, click on the links below or contact us at

    Are you interested in media ecology and have some questions about it? Are you working on a study related to media ecology and searching for advice? Are you an instructor looking for a media ecology expert to invite as a virtual guest speaker to one of your classes?

    Get in touch with us! We are happy to schedule a “virtual coffee” appointment with you. Simply fill out the form below to set up a short call or virtual meeting with a scholar from the MEA.

    The format is open to all. We especially encourage students and early-career scholars interested in media ecology to get in touch with us.

    Do you have a background in media ecology and would like to volunteer for virtual coffee meetings with those looking to learn more about it? Send an email to Julia M. Hildebrand.

    Arrange a Virtual Coffee appointment on our website. 

    Book Reviewers Wanted!

    Have you read a good book with connections to Media Ecology?  Please consider submitting a review for publication in Explorations in Media Ecology.  Are you reading a new book for use in an upcoming class?  Please consider submitting a review and helping out other scholars looking for new texts.  Do you just like writing book reviews? Consider writing one for EME!!  :)  Contact for more information and to get a format template.  Reviews should be between 1000 and 2000 words.

    Back Issues of EME

    Pedagogy Sections Include Online Teaching

    Access all back issues of Explorations in Media Ecology in the Members Area on the MEA website. These back issues include pedagogy sections that contain information about teaching, including teaching online.

    MEA @ NCA 2023

    NCA 109th Annual Convention
    Convention Theme: "Freedom”
    November 17-20, 2022
    National Harbor, Maryland


    The Media Ecology Association welcomes submissions for the 2023 National Communication Association convention, centered on the theme of "Freedom." Media Ecology is concerned with the idea of freedom in any number of significant ways. Discussions of technological determinism in the work of Jacques Ellul and Marshall McLuhan emphasize how new technologies condition and constrain freedoms of thought, word, and deed. The work of Neil Postman emphasizes the connection between freedom of discourse and political action. More recent works by scholars such as Armond Towns and Sarah Sharma reconsider how media have both restricted and facilitated the freedom of different bodies. While Douglas Rushkoff's work has offered contributions related to econmic freedom and precarity. Such considerations remind media ecologists of the importance of free speech as a foundation for understanding the importance of media in society and the ethical implications they have for communication.

    This call invites you to explore these concerns, emphasizing the historical and intellectual roots of our field, and their relevance to the theme of "Freedom." As such, papers and panels that deal with topics related to the theme are encouraged (though not required). Likewise, proposals that link traditionally distinct thinkers or disciplines to media ecology, extend established ideas or concepts, or otherwise advance existing approaches to the field, are also welcomed. Submissions from scholars of diverse intellectual backgrounds and traditionally underrepresented groups are highly encouraged to apply.

    MEA Membership Renewal Reminder

    It is not too late to renew your membership by paying your dues.  Please log into the website at, and then log in using your email ID and password and follow the directions. You may pay online via PayPal or pay by check made payable to the Media Ecology Association and mailed to our treasurer, Paul Soukup, S.J., at the Communication Department; Santa Clara University; 500 El Camino Real; Santa Clara, CA  95053 USA. For those outside the U.S., you may also pay by Western Union money order sent to  If you wish to change your membership, please drop Paul Soukup a note. 

    *Please note: The Media Ecology Association Executive Board decided that the newsletter will be available online to all interested readers. However, only members can be featured in the newsletter itself. If you are a MEA member, please fill out this form (include a call to submit material+ link). 

    Message from the Editor: A Year in Rear-View

    Austin Hestdalen, Duquesne University

    It is often said that the beginning of a new year offers us the opportunity to reflect and reconsider our experiences in years past. After 25 years of extending conversations in media ecology, the value of the MEA's history cannot be denied. It is my hope that in this coming year, In Media Res will extend these conversations into the challenges that are continuing to define our present and future understanding of media. 

    This year the newsletter will both revisit old segments and invite new contributions from members that will revitalize conversations media ecology for a contemporary and future moment. In this effort, I would like to announce the reintroduction of several segments listed below and invite members to submit content of interest for publication in the monthly newsletter. 

    • Media Ecology - Booknotes: A segment originally appearing in the first few issues of In Media ResBooknotes offers membership the opportunity to contribute short reviews of books that are either directly or tangentially related to the study of media ecology and offer the potential for reconsidering important aspects of media ecological study.
    • Media Ecology - Scholarship In Brief: The scholarship in brief segment appeared in the earliest issues of the newsletter and offered frameworks for revisiting what might be described as the foundational texts of media ecology. This segment offers membership the opportunity to discuss both old and new interpretations of 'canonical' works in media ecology. 
    • Media Ecology at Work: An older segment in which members have the chance to parse the professional and practical implications of media ecology in their daily lives. Contributions take an almost essayistic format in which membership contemplate how media ecology might inform everyday activities of work, play, and anything in between. 
    • Media Ecology and the Arts: This segment focuses on ever-emerging considerations of media in music, and the visual, literary, performance, and plastic arts. Contributions contemplate media and the artistic counter-environments that allow us to negotiate media constraints.
    • Cornering Media Ecology: A new segment that invites media ecologists to offer critical understandings of media and the competing ecologies they generate in human communication. Contributions can include anything from critical reinterpretations of media ecological texts to those that parse the implications of the media ecological approach in a variety of contexts. 
    • General Letters to the Editor: This segment invites membership to share thoughts both on the newsletter and the MEA as whole and is open to any form discussion and critique. Contributions are encouraged to offer insights into how the newsletter and association might extend the study of media ecology in ways that reflect the interests of the membership. 

    Contributions to any of the above segments should be submitted to the newsletter editor, Austin Hestdalen (

    Please be sure to include the name of segment for which you are submitting in the subject line.

    This message was sent to you by Media Ecology Association.
    If you no longer wish to receive these emails, you can unsubscribe at any time