By Heide Khuhlane
GRAHAMSTOWN, South Africa – Around 250 delegates from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, South America, North America and the Antarctica will gather in Cape Town in May this year for a rare summit that examines the future sustainability of media organizations and of independent, quality and credible journalism worldwide in the fluid and uncertain twenty-first century and beyond.
The World Media Economics and Management Conference (WMEMC) is being held under a backdrop of widening and heightening global concerns about the sustainability of mainstream media such as newspapers, television and radio stations in an emerging era of domination of news and news programme content production and distribution by technological ‘platform economy’ companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter.
The platform giants have been taking away both the mainstream media’s audiences and advertising, the latter being the key engine of economic and financial viability of media in the past half century, exacerbating an existential financial crisis for media that has its roots in the 2007-2009 global economic crisis and inappropriate media management strategic policies in a rapidly changing world.
Themed “Media Management in the Age of Tech Giants: Collaboration or Co-opetition?”, the 13th edition of the WMEMC will be hosted by Rhodes University’s Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI) for Media Leadership at Cape Town’s Atlantic-facing Lagoon Beach Hotel from 6-9 May 2018.
The SPI pioneered the introduction of media management and leadership in Africa when the Institute was established in 2002 to try to address a critical shortage of media leaders and managers who are equipped with high-level media management-specific university education and training that empowers them to navigate an increasingly more complex and discontinuous media landscape.
Attending the summit, held every two years in a different country and continent, will be an array of the world’s leading academics in media business and media management, as well as other top academics from journalism and business schools and senior journalists from across the globe.
SPI Director Francis Mlongwa said: “This year’s WMEMC summit has been in the making for more than two years because of the complex logistics that it entails. We are almost ready to go and we look forward to warmly welcoming all the delegates to Africa and to Cape Town in particular.
“Although Cape Town is facing water shortages at the moment, we have been assured by our hotel hosts and we are also taking measures to ensure that all delegates will have adequate water throughout the conference. We are both excited and a little anxious that all goes according to plan.
“The WMEMC summit is being held in the context of a world where independent, credible and quality journalism is under serious threat not just from the technological platforms alone. Most audiences are increasingly concerned about the emergence of ‘ambient’ journalism, which lacks context, lacks background, has less evidence-based reporting and easily identifiable and named news sources and therefore gives little, if any, meaning and sense of what is really happening in and around us.”
As well as keynote speakers and panellists, the summit will feature more than 160 research papers that take an almost 360-degree examination of the current and future state of media business and of credible, quality journalism in the world; what could be done to propel media and journalism’s sustainability in a world where audiences are being swamped by information choice and overload; what new business models to adopt to ensure media and journalism survive the ‘attention economy’; among many other critical topics.
The City of Cape Town (http://www.capetown.gov.za/), in acknowledging the choice of the city to host the biggest media management conference in the world which is expected to boost the City’s tourism, has chipped in to offer modest sponsorship of the WMEMC.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said of the Conference: “Cape Town is proud to be the first African city host of the World Media Economics and Management Conference. Our city is just the right choice considering this year’s theme of “Media Management in the Age of Tech Giants: Collaboration or Co-opetition?”
“Cape Town is Africa’s Information Technology hub with more tech start-ups than anywhere else on the continent. There are more than 20 acceleration programmes and more than 25 co-working spaces. Each acceleration programme supports on average 10 to 15 start-ups every year. We believe a conference of this nature can help the City and industry players to push even more boundaries and help us make greater strides as the Digital Capital of Africa.”
Other business organizations such as the Business and Arts South Africa (http://www.basa.co.za) and The Media Online (http://themediaonline.co.za/) have also come on board to support this summit, which organisers say will shape the future of the sustainability of media both in Africa and across the world, and of independent, quality journalism and democracy at a time of increasing uncertainty and questioning by some groups of what constitutes truth and fact-based journalism in a ‘post-truth world’ of so-called ‘alternative facts’.
To register to attend this summit, which is coming to Africa for the very first time since the launch of the WMEMC nearly 30 years ago, please visit www.wmemc.org. Organizations wishing to sponsor the summit can get in touch with Ms Heide Khuhlane, the Conference Co-ordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone her at +27-46-603-8921.
Join us at the 2018 World Media Economics and Management Conference in Cape Town from 6-9 May 2018. Don’t miss this historic media management summit that focuses on solutions to creating a vibrant and sustainable media and of independent, credible and quality journalism in Africa and across the world.