The Media Reading Group had a productive Michaelmas term, scheduling meetings for lively discussions about journalism, freedom of expression, and political responsibility.
The first meeting took place in No. 1 Newnham Terrace in Darwin College on October 28, 2015 from 16:30 - 18:30. Our first presenter was Dr Sophie Knowles, who talked about financial media and their failure, not least through collusion, to prepare the public for the 2008 market meltdowns - this being the subject of her PhD.
Our second Media Reading Group session, held on November 17 from 16:30-18:30 in Darwin College, focused on the recent restrictions on and threats to freedom of expression inside Britain itself, in particular the PREVENT strategy and all that it means for the right of universities to host speakers with views that don't subscribe to 'British values', of students and scholars to have the space to think at liberty, and of the media and the academy to investigate and research freely. The following article provided a basis for this discussion: http://bit.ly/1SDMKLq
Our third and final session of the Media Reading Group was held on December 8 from 16:30 - 18:30 in Darwin College. Michael Clark spoke on "Charlie Hebdo and the Arab Shia: Instrumental rhetoric and freedom of expression." Following the attacks on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015, statements were issued by both Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah, and Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist Movement. Yet, when these two seemingly similar Shiite Islamist figureheads spoke about the attacks, each was talking on two distinct levels. Their statements concerned not only those specific and terrible events in faraway lands, but also their own very pressing political dilemmas. Those situations both informed their discourse and represented its secondary-level subject, the statements of each speaker being made in order to advance his interests with respect to those situations. When the rhetoric of Nasrallah and Sadr on the Charlie Hebdo shootings are juxtaposed against prior, seemingly inconsistent statements on other perceived insults to Islam, one can appreciate a striking similarity in how each uses its discourse as an instrument to advance its interests and a fundamental difference in what those specific interests actually are.
For more information regarding the Cambridge Media Reading Group, please feel free to contact Mike Clark (mdc48)