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University of Otago hosts 'From State to Social Media' event

20 Apr 2016

The University of Otago’s Foreign Policy School is taking place this year in July, and will focus on how news and social media impacts global politics.

With the theme “Global Politics: From State to Social Media”, this year's event will be opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Murray McCully.

Now in its 51st year, the School continually attracts academics, students, policymakers, diplomats and members of the public to discuss and debate pressing issues in international affairs. In 2016 it's being held at St Margaret’s College on the University’s Dunedin campus from the evening of July 1 until July 3.

Dr Brett Nicholls, School co-director, says this year’s theme is prompted by the shifting relationship between the state and established media, as well as the shifting role of news media in society today.

“We want to examine how, whether located in geographical and economic centres or peripheries, the complex interaction between politics and media has been changed by the increasingly blurring line between top-down and bottom-up flows of information,” Nicholls says.

The topics to be explored range from broader overarching issues such as: what is communication today; the role played by ‘old’ and ‘new’ media in international strategic narratives; public diplomacy; the place of journalism in contemporary society or the effects of foreign news on international affairs; and how new media technology have empowered non-state actors (digital activism).

There will also be focused discussions on: specific geopolitical contexts such as Asia-Pacific news and citizen media; State and social media in India; New Zealand’s changed media landscape; and media's impact on Indigenous affairs policy in Australia.

The School will also feature a roundtable discussion on the Panama Papers and whistle-blower journalism.

A line-up of national and overseas speakers have been invited to explore the complex and evolving interaction between states and ‘old’ and ‘new’ forms of media.

Paola Voci, School associate professor and co-director, says this year’s event has attracted an exciting range of speakers, drawn internationally from the UK, USA, Netherlands, and Australia, as well as speakers from New Zealand.

“We will hear from established academics working in the field of media and state policy, and we will also have talks by veteran journalist Mike McRoberts, Maramena Roderick (Head of News, Māori Television) and investigative journalist, Nicky Hager,” Voci says.

The School begins on the Friday evening at 5pm with a cocktail function and the Minister’s opening address, and finishes on Sunday late afternoon.

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