We just finished my most pressing responsibility in Memphis, the Media Policy Research Pre-conference that my group the Social Science Research Council organized to gather academics to discuss research needs in media and telecommunications public policy for the coming year. I frankly had some concerns about how successful the event would be, with several fairly disparite groups of academics and activists needing coordination and a "poster session" on new media policy research to organize.
But in the end, we had an excellent turnout of around 180 folks, mostly academics but some activists and media producers. Notably, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein spent nearly the entire day at our event, actively participating in sessions and talking to people in the hallway.
What is most frustrating about event organizing is that often you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labor, running around dealing with missing microphones or ordering extra chairs while some of the leading scholars in the country are talking about issues you care about. But I got to dip into several working group sessions discussing everything from public access television to media representations of minorities to Net Neutrality. In all of them, there was tremendous enthusiasm about discussing the research and advocacy opportunities in 2007 and plotting a positive way forward.
It will take some weeks to summarize the results of the pre-conference. But the attendance and enthusiasm of the attendees seems to indicate a strong interest in continuing discussion and collaboration on these issues. For now, I’m happy just to get a hot shower and a chance to rest before heading off to the first of many parties this weekend tonight.