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Candidate Statement for ICA Presidential Election: Mary Beth Oliver

Posted By Mary Beth Oliver (Pennsylvania State U), Thursday, September 5, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Being a scholar of communication could not be more timely, central, and practically important. When we explain our research to those outside of our field, we are frequently met with enthused reactions and knowing nods. Likewise, we increasingly see other disciplines such as psychology, political science, and sociology (to name but a few) evidence increasing interest in the topics we routinely study. Our research represents a crucial hub in the wheel of society allowing people to voice their identities, raise the next generations, and empower political and social movements. The fundamental issues at the core of our discipline make our scholarship poised to stand at the forefront of constructing just, equitable, democratic, and inclusive communities and organizations. 


If elected, two of my primary goals are to increase the visibility of our scholarship into public discussions about social, political, scientific, and cultural issues, and to fully embrace an inclusive stance with regard to diversity that will recognize the contributions of all of our members and will also strengthen our scholarship. My goals reflect both my participation in the organization and my deep commitment, both personally and professionally, to how our discipline can help to foster well-being and social justice. I have been involved in ICA for many years, including as member and chair of the Publication Committee and the B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award Committee; secretary of the Mass Communication Division; and member of the Committee on Conferences, the Best Article Award Committee, and the Steven Chaffee Career Achievement Award Committee. I have also served as an associate editor for two of ICA’s journals: Journal of Communication and Communication Theory. Serving in these roles is a humbling task that highlights the incredible scholarship of our talented members. It also has sensitized me to how much better we are than we might realize, and how much we can become an even stronger and more visible presence within academic and public discussions and debate. 


One of my primary goals is to encourage, support, and work toward greater visibility of our scholarship to a variety of audiences, including within ICA, to other fields, and to the public. I would also like to highlight the wealth of our work that directly and indirectly helps us to rise to our higher, better selves in pursuit of a healthy world — one that strives to improve social justice, the well-being of others, and the nurturance of a thriving, healthy environment that is inclusive and compassionate. Many members of ICA study these issues directly, addressing pressing and interrelated issues such as poverty, health, racism, mediated ideology, and climate change, among many other topics. Other ICA members study these issues indirectly, including how emotions function in communication processes, how networked communities foster greater compassion, or how a sensitivity to our histories may offer context and facilitate strategies for change and growth. In short, all of us entered this field with an enthusiasm that our work can make a difference — this is something that we can be proud of and that needs to be shared widely both within academia and with the public. 


An additional primary goal centers on enhancing inclusion and access across our membership. Working toward the larger social good is a crucial aspect of our scholarship, but it is also imperative that we are self-reflective and that we strive for the same goals within our organization. One of our strengths is that as we mature as a discipline, our membership increasingly reflects a diversity of voices and experiences. Over the years, this diversity has often been expressed in terms of internationalization — an important and honorable part of our organizational identity. But diversity comes in many additional forms, including in geographical locales, cultures, races, sexual and gender identities, ages, economic resources, and abilities. This diversity is our strength — it broadens our understanding of communication, encourages growth in our theorizing, and allows us to flourish in the inclusivity of our scholarship and teaching. However, this diversity is one that needs to be respected, nurtured, applauded, appreciated, and fully involved in our organization. ICA recently released its statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access and has developed a task force on this central issue. If elected, I look forwarding to working with this task force and listening carefully to our members to implement ideas for how ICA can be a welcoming home to the diversity of scholars who are part of our field. 


Turning these broad goals into concrete strategies can take many forms. For me to suggest that I have all of the answers for how best to proceed would be presumptuous and ham-fisted. What I will do is seek input from our members, consider these important issues from a variety of perspectives, and move toward implementing concrete steps to help us realize our goals. Among these goals are: 

  • Raising awareness of our scholarship to gain greater visibility in public discussions of pressing issues. 

  • Continuing efforts to encourage greater internationalization, including in under-represented locales such as in the Global South. 

  • Enhancing involvement among marginalized groups and recognizing and valuing contributions of more inclusive scholarship. 

  • Devising specific strategies to ensure that the leadership in ICA and the honors and awards that it gives are inclusive, transparent, and appreciative of the diversity of our members. 

  • Examining ICA’s publications and conference participation with an eye toward ensuring that the breadth of our members’ scholarly contributions is represented. 

  • Being sensitive that many scholars do not have the resources to participate in our organization or to carry out research that is often published in our journals, and seeking ways for a greater diversity of voices to find a home for their scholarship. 

  • Being mindful of the communities and issues that are important in the locales of our conferences and looking for opportunities to highlight these communities at our conferences and in our research. 


About MBO (PhD, University of Wisconsin): I am the Bellisario Professor of Media Studies and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory in the Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University. My work is in the area of media psychology, and my focus is on media and social cognition (e.g., stereotyping), emotion, and social good. I am honored to have been named an ICA Fellow in 2014 and to be the recipient of ICA’s B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award in 2017. I consider ICA to be my “professional home,” and am deeply grateful for the scholarly opportunities that it has provided to me, as well as the friendships I have formed with many of its members. It would be my honor to serve as its president.


Tags:  September 2019 

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Candidate Statement for ICA Presidential Election: Hilde Van den Bulck

Posted By Hilde Van den Bulck (Drexel U) , Thursday, September 5, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The members of the International Communication Association make up a diverse group, united in the conviction that media and communication play a pivotal role in society and the lives of individuals. Our work is more relevant than ever. Media and communication, and their relationship to culture, society, and the individual, are in a state of flux. Our adagio ‘everything is communication’ seems to need rephrasing to ‘everything is mediated communication’. This puts our topics of study, our discipline and our organization at the heart of economic, social, political, and cultural developments.


I am honored that I have been nominated as presidential candidate. ICA has had and still has a tremendous impact on my development as a media and communication scholar. In the course of my career, ICA has fulfilled many different functions. I am sure that this holds true for many of us. It would be a privilege to ‘look after’ such a precious - if sturdy – organization. An important professional drive for me is the satisfaction that comes from helping to create an environment where others can thrive. I want to continue ICA efforts in this regard. I believe that my academic experience in teaching, research, and managerial positions, and what some call my ‘high energy levels’, can be valuable assets in realizing my vision for ICA. 


My vision for ICA 

ICA is a vibrant community and a well-run organization. These two aspects are related. Past and current leadership – with the help of members and staff – guided ICA to become one of the largest representation and meeting of communication scholars from around the world. These are strengths I would want to cherish and build on. As in the academic management positions I held in the past, I would work in ICA within the principles of good governance, including transparency, accountability, rule of law and being consensus-oriented, participatory and inclusive. 


Compared to when I first joined in the 1990s, ICA is a more inclusive organization. It reaches communication scholars beyond the dominant groups, be it nationality, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. The result is a diverse community in terms of membership, divisions, and paradigmatic positions. However, inclusion is also about attention to issues that may appear ‘local’, ‘in the margin’, or a break from dominant paradigms, but that can contribute to dominant conversations. The attacks on media by Western leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson that command much of our attention, sound all too familiar to scholars from regions with a history of autocratic regimes. Moreover, inclusion is about confronting ourselves with alternative perspectives and approaches. While specialization is crucial in incremental knowledge building, we should be weary of pigeonholing our discipline and our research fields. Mediated sexualization of preteens is a key topic for scholars active in CAM and in Popular Communication but, too often, they are not aware of each other’s work. I want to stimulate such cross-fertilization by building this into the conference program more explicitly, providing slots and plenaries that bring together different paradigmatic and methodological approaches to media and communication themes. 


The success of ICA results from the work of dedicated individuals that put in many hours as division chairs, award committee members, etc. Importantly, the ICA is all of us. What we get out of it is determined by what each member puts in: We can expect thorough feedback if everybody is willing to review; we get high level discussions if we produce quality papers and thought-provoking presentations; and we create new generations of top scholars if we contribute to an environment in which junior and senior scholars feel they can discuss their work on equal terms. I want to explore ways to strengthen an organizational culture where nobody takes ICA for granted, and everybody invests some time and energy, for instance by making more than two paper submissions contingent on a willingness to review, by pairing junior/senior scholars in chair/respondent positions, and by expanding mentorship initiatives. The beauty of such participatory community is that we all get much more in return: colleagues to collaborate with, friends to hang out with, networks to share, ideas to exchange, feedback to improve our work. 


As a participatory community, ICA is a place where we talk about our concerns regarding our field of study, discipline, or workplaces. In return, the size of the organization allows ICA to identify and speak up as a significant stakeholder. I would continue Terry Flew’s efforts to connect with civil society and Claes de Vreese’s work on Open Science, and would encourage ICA to become an even stronger voice in discussions regarding life-work balance and working conditions for communication scholars. 


About me 

I am a professor of Communication Studies and Head of the Department of Communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I obtained an MA in Communications from the University of Leuven (Belgium), an MA in Mass Communication from the University of Leicester (UK), and a Ph.D. from the University of Leuven. I was professor, head of Department of Communication, then Associate Dean of Research and, eventually, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Antwerp (Belgium), before moving to Drexel. I have been active in various Communication Associations, including the Netherlands-Flanders Communication Association NeFCA (as founding member and former vice-president), ECREA (as former chair of the Communication Law and Policy Section), and the RIPE initiative (as former board member and conference organizer). In the ICA, I have taken up various roles in award committees and theme chair of the 2019 conference. 


My research combines expertise in media policies and structures, focusing on the impact of digitization on legacy media, with expertise in media culture and identity, focusing on mediated communication in celebrity and fan culture. As such, I am familiar with and collaborate across various sections of our field. I teach and publish in these areas, and I am a proud and engaged supervisor/mentor for my Ph.D. students. I would bring these experiences to helping to run ICA. 


Presidential candidates only find out who else is running during the official announcement at the ICA conference. I’m honored to be on the ballot with Mary Beth Oliver, a distinguished communication scholar, a celebrated mentor and, most of all, a wonderful person. Regardless of the election outcome, I like to think that ICA will be in very good hands.


Tags:  September 2019 

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ICA Online Elections Began 1 September

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 5, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2019

On 1 September, ICA members began voting for association-wide and Division/Interest Group officers. Like previous years, the vote will take place using an online-only ballot. Polls will remain open until 16:00 UTC on 15 October. 


Candidate statements for the ICA Presidential position are included in this newsletter; all other (association wide and division/interest group) candidate statements are included within the online ballots in the ICA election system. 


To access the ballot from the ICA website, members will need their ICA username and password. Members, please make sure that ICA has your correct email address so that the association can send you an announcement of the election and a link to the ballot. The ICA website allows you to personally verify, correct, and/or update the information.


The association-wide elections include the following positions:


  • PRESIDENT: The member selected as president makes a 5 1/2-year commitment to the Executive Committee (six months as president-elect select; one year as president-elect/conference program chair; one year as ICA President; three years as past president). The final year on the Executive Committee, the past president serves as General Secretary and chair of the Regional Conferences Committee. The President-Elect Select selected in the 2019 election will begin service on the Executive Committee immediately upon announcement of the results. Candidates for this position are Mary Beth Oliver (Pennsylvania State U) and Hilde Van den Bulck (Drexel U); their statements are included later in this newsletter.

  • BOARD MEMBER-AT-LARGE: Board members-at-large serve one three-year term; there are three BMAL at any given time. The purpose of member-at-large positions is to grow the Board of Directors representation from underrepresented regions.  The BMAL selected in the 2019 election will begin service at the end of the 2020 Annual ICA Conference in Australia. View the Board Member-at-Large job description. Candidates for this position are Maria Elizabeth Len-Rios (U of Georgia) and Daniel Raichvarg (U Burgundy).

  • BOARD STUDENT AND EARLY CAREER REPRESENTATIVE: Board Student and Early Career Representatives serve in pairs, with one nominated each year for overlapping two-year terms. The Board Student and Early Career Representative selected in the 2019 election will begin service at the end of the 2020 Annual ICA Conference in Australia. View the Board Student & Early Career Representative description. Candidates for this position are Meredith Pruden (Georgia State U) and Lara Schreurs (KU Leuven).


To vote in the election, click here. If you have any questions about the elections, please contact Julie Arnold, Senior Manager of Governance.


Tags:  September 2019 

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Renew Your ICA Membership Early!

Posted By Kristine Rosa, Manager of Member Services, Thursday, September 5, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Tags:  September 2019 

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Call for ICA Journal Editor Nominations

Posted By John Paul Gutierrez, Thursday, August 8, 2019

CALL FOR EDITOR NOMINATIONS:

Annals of the International Communication Association

Communication, Culture & Critique

Human Communication Research

The ICA Publications Committee is soliciting nominations, including self-nominations, for the editors of three ICA journals:

  • Annals of the International Communication Association
  • Communication, Culture & Critique
  • Human Communication Research

The appointments are for four years, and begin September/October 2020.

Annals of the International Communication Association (Annals)is a relatively new peer-reviewed quarterly journal publishing state-of-the-discipline literature reviews and essays dedicated to the exchange of interdisciplinary and internationally diverse scholarship relating to communication in its many forms. The Annals continues the traditions established in Communication Yearbook by providing an updated context for key research from across the Association. More details about the journal can be obtained at https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rica20/current

Communication, Culture, & Critique (CCC) publishes critical, interpretive, and qualitative research examining the role of communication and cultural criticism in today's world. The journal welcomes high-quality research and analyses from diverse theoretical and methodological approaches from all fields of communication, media and cultural studies. According to ISI Journal Citation Reports for 2018, CCC is ranked No. 81 out of 88 journals in the field of Communication with a 2-year impact factor of .653. More details about the journal can be obtained at https://academic.oup.com/ccc.

Human Communication Research (HCR) concentrates on presenting empirical work in any area of human communication to advance understanding of human symbolic processes. As such, HCR places strong emphasis on theory-driven research, the development of new theoretical models in communication, and the development of innovative methods for observing and measuring communication behavior. The journal has a broad social science focus to appeal to scholars not only in communication science, but also from psychology, sociology, linguistics, and anthropology. According to ISI Journal Citation Reports for 2018, HCR is ranked No. 6 out of 88 journals in the field of Communication with a 5-year impact factor of 3.669. More details about the journal can be obtained at https://academic.oup.com/hcr.

Editor responsibilities are detailed in the ICA Publication Manual: http://www.icahdq.org/page/PublishingPolicies.

Editors of ICA publications should reflect and seek to enhance the diversity of the Association in terms of their interest areas, gender, ethnicity, and national origin.

A complete nomination package should include:

  • A letter of application.
  • A vision statement for the editorship.
  • The candidate’s vitae.
  • 2 letters of support from published scholars familiar with the candidate’s work, speaking to the quality of the candidate’s research as well as their experience with and suitability for journal editing.
  • A letter of institutional support from the candidate’s home institution.

The Publications Committee weighs multiple factors when evaluating candidates, including, but not limited to:

  • Clear understanding of the journal.
  • Clear articulation of an intellectual and operational vision for the journal.
  • Demonstrated openness to a range of epistemologies appropriate for the scope of the journal.
  • Demonstrated interest and/or experience in theoretical development.
  • Demonstrated interest and/or openness to interdisciplinary work.
  • Demonstrated communication skills and diplomacy.
  • Reputation and academic output.
  • Editorial, managerial or administrative experience.
  • Tenure or advanced rank.
  • Institutional support.

All materials should be submitted to JP Gutierrez (jpgutierrez@icahdq.org) by 15 January, 2020. Finalists will be notified in February 2020 and subsequently interviewed by members of the Publications Committee.

ICA’s Publications Committee is chaired by Robin Nabi (U of California, Santa Barbara) and includes: Stephen Croucher (Massey U), Patricia Moy (U of Washington), Katherine Sender (Cornell U), and Sabine Trepte (U of Hohenheim).

Tags:  Annals of the International Communication Associat  Communication Culture & Critique  Editors  Human Communication Research  Search 

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Pre- and Postconference Proposals for ICA 2020 Application Now Available

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 5, 2019

Before and after each annual conference, ICA hosts pre- and postconferences. These sessions are either all-day or half-day miniconferences, intended as an extension of the main ICA conference, but separate in terms of budget, programming, and administration. Preconferences will be held on Thursday, 21 May with an end time of 17:00. All postconferences will be on Tuesday, 26 May. If you choose to have an off-site conference, you may either propose a location you have already obtained in advance or you may mark on your proposal form that you wish to speak with our local host for help in determining a location. In all cases, please think carefully about your own break-even budget (the form has a formula for determining this) and whether you will need more than one room (if you might need a breakout room, for instance). If you are interested in planning and submitting a preconference or postconference proposal please fill out the proposal form by Friday, 30 August. More detailed instructions are within the application form. If you have questions after reading the form, please contact the Conference team (conference@icahdq.org).

 

Submit here:   https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.icahdq.org/resource/resmgr/conference/2020/2020proposalform.pdf

 


Tags:  August 2019 

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President’s Column

Posted By Terry Flew (Queensland U of Technology), Monday, August 5, 2019

In light of the ICA Executive Committee’s statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) in all aspects of the Association’s activities, and the debates about inequities in communications research and scholarship arising from #CommunicationSoWhite and other debates, it is worth identifying trends over time in who gets published in ICA journals. Fortunately, a great deal of analysis of this question has been undertaken by Silvio Waisbord (George Washington U), in his recent book Communication: A Post-Discipline (Polity, 2019). The trends are both encouraging yet troubling.


In the book, Waisbord considers the difficulties in achieving a shared definition of the communication discipline, the resulting tendencies towards fragmentation of the field, and the impact of digital technologies in reshaping all aspects of communication. It is the chapter on globalization, and whether there has been any substantive ‘de-Westernization’ of the field, where publications data has been gathered. 


What appears in the book is a summary of the data (pp. 96-98), but I had the good fortune to be able to view a draft that contained more detailed information. The trends in authorship from 2000-2017 are shown below:



US lead authors as % of total 2000-2009

US lead authors as % of total 2010-2017

Journal of Communication

82

64

Communication, Culture & Critique *


67

Human Communication Research

86

66

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

60

46

Communication Theory

83

60

* Indexed in 2012

The data shows that, over time, the number of published papers with a U.S.-based first author has been declining across all journals. At the same time, U.S.-based authors continue to constitute over half of all first authors for all journals other than Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication


There is some evidence of the globalization of the communication field found in trends in papers published in ICA journals. But this comes with important qualifiers. All but one percent of papers without a U.S.-based first author came from one of 16 countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland. There are notable gaps with regards to Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Southern and Eastern Europe, and East Asia beyond China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and South Korea. As Waisbord observes ‘institutional globalization has not levelled the playing field’, and ‘a globalized field of communication studies continues to speak with a strong western accent’ (p. 106).


There thus continues to be an ‘epistemic culture’ in communication that systematically favors Western scholarship. Measures that ICA has been taking to address these imbalances include moving from regionally-based representation on the ICA Executive Board towards seeking membership from under-represented regions (Kenya and The Philippines, for instance, rather than Germany or Australia), ensuring geographical diversity of representation on ICA Committees and Task Forces, and the role played by Regional Conferences in enabling participation in regions where attendance at the annual ICA conference has been historically low. There are ongoing challenges around implicit biases in the refereeing of academic papers and submissions to the ICA conference, issues arising from English being the primary language of the ICA, and costs associated with attending ICA conferences in the Global South. Tensions around the granting of visa entry into the United States following the election of Donald Trump have exacerbated such issues. 


The ICA recognizes that claims around merit or excellence in communication research ring hollow in the absence of measures to actively promote diversity, address global and regional inequities in access to resources, and support scholarship in the Global South. As an international association, we affirm our commitment to such principles, and welcome further ideas as to how this can be undertaken more effectively. 


Tags:  August 2019 

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Going to Australia

Posted By Claes H. De Vreese (U of Amsterdam), Monday, August 5, 2019

Australia is Down Under. It is a wonderful destination. For many ICA members there are also downsides: travel distance, costs, and carbon footprint are considerations. These are important and legitimate considerations. Let me address some of these and thereby contribute to what hopefully will be a vibrant 70th Annual ICA Conference in Gold Coast, Australia in 2020.


First, ICA is an international organization. We have a four year rotation cycle to make sure that we can be in different communities. For someone in Germany, San Francisco is a fairly long journey. For someone in Jerusalem, Fukuoka is far. And for someone in Kuala Lumpur, Washington, DC is far. In some years a larger contingent of the membership travels farther, on average, than in other years. The Annual ICA Conference will be one of these. Many of our Asian members travel really far, almost every year. For them, Australia will be a, comparatively speaking, shorter trip. Let us collectively honor their commitment and travels to ICA in the many past years by simply accepting that this time other groups of the membership take on the heavier part of the travel.


Second, given the distance, travel costs will for many (not all) be comparatively higher. ICA is doing the following to help in this respect: first, there will be different kinds of housing available, some of these being shared units with relatively lower per-night costs. Second, ICA will put out information about how to maximize your travel budget (with options like flying into Sydney and taking a low-cost carrier etc). Watch the ICA website and news flashes, and start planning ahead.


Third, many of us are concerned about drastic climate change. ICA destinations are chosen several, often 5-7, years in advance. The 70th Annual ICA Conference location was not chosen with specific attention to invoking new technologies for the conference. However, ICA is committed to actions making the imprint of the organization smaller. In choosing locations going forward, sustainability and ‘green strategies’ are official parts of the hotel/conference bid. For the ICA Annual Conference in 2020 specifically, ICA sustainability committee has identified two projects that can be recipients for carbon neutral donations. These are voluntary and are available after registering for the Annual ICA Conference. None of these funds will go to ICA, only the chosen projects. In addition, when making individual travel plans, it is worth considering which planes are being used for the different legs of the journey to Australia, since CO₂ emissions vary greatly by plane type and age.


With this column I hope to have convinced those doubting, if they should join in Australia or not, to come. In addition to being a great conference, it is also a gateway to explore a beautiful and attractive island. Australia has a lot to offer, culturally and nature wise. And it is a great gateway for bucket list destinations in the vicinity. 


We look forward to seeing you at the #ica20 conference. 

Tags:  August 2019 

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Human-Machine Communication (HMC) Interest Group

Posted By Andrea Guzman (Northern Illinois U), Monday, August 5, 2019

Why You Should Become an Official HMC Interest Group Member: The best way to become involved in HMC research at ICA and to show your support for this growing area is to become an official IG member. Your official membership is important because ICA uses membership numbers to determine continuation of the IG. The US$3 dues are the primary means of financial support for the IG. As a member you will have certain opportunities and rights, including the ability to vote in elections and run for office.


How to Become an Official HMC Interest Group Member:  ICA is now in its membership renewal period and has informed us that the best way to become an IG member is while renewing your general ICA membership. Here are the steps provided by ICA:


1. "Log in" (https://www.icahdq.org/login.aspx)

2. On the "my profile" page, select the link at the top to "Renew your membership now"

3. Review/make any necessary changes and save profile info

4. Select HMC from the list of divisions & IGs

5. Enter payment info 

6. Select the "submit securely" button at the bottom of the renewal page


If you are not a member of ICA or need to reinstate your membership, click on the “Join” tab at https://www.icahdq.org and when presented with the option, select HMC from the list of divisions & IGs. 


70th Annual ICA Conference CFP: We will have regular presentation slots during Annual Conference in 2020 and will be accepting papers and extended abstracts of works in progress. We also will have awards for the top student paper, top paper, and top poster. More details regarding the IG’s CFP and general ICA guidelines are available in the main conference CFP. 


HMC Research Pro-Tip: If you are new to HMC and are looking for examples of research, check out the programs of past HMC preconferences at http://humanmachinecommunication.com


HMC Preconference: We are developing a preconference proposal for the ICA Annual Conference in 2020. All preconferences are reviewed by ICA, and ICA will notify us in late September regarding acceptance. More details about the preconference will be posted at that time. Questions regarding the preconference should be directed to Autumn Edwards, autumn.edwards@wmich.edu


Who is Running the Interest Group? The inaugural officers are Andrea L. Guzman, Chair, alguzman@niu.edu; Chad Edwards, Vice-Chair, chad.edwards@wmich.edu; and Steve Jones, Secretary; sjones@uic.edu. General questions and comments should be directed to the chair. Questions regarding the main conference should be directed to the vice-chair.

Tags:  August 2019 

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Executive Director’s Report - The State of the Association 2019

Posted By Laura Sawyer MA, CAE - ICA Executive Director, Monday, August 5, 2019

The International Communication Association officially emerged on 1 January 1950 as the National Society for the Study of Communication (NSSC), but didn’t become “ICA” until 1969. As we close out fiscal year 2019, we are stronger than ever and our 50th Anniversary as ICA (though our 69th year in existence) has been our best year yet!

 

ICA continues to thrive, finding new avenues of influence and new ways to expand our community. That said, there is always more that can be done to strengthen and diversify the organization going forward.

 

Accessibility & Inclusion

One of the most public-facing initiatives we have undertaken this past year involves ICA’s efforts towards more inclusion and accessibility for conference attendees with disabilities and other accommodation needs. Since San Diego, gender-neutral restrooms, ICA-subsidized childcare (an access issue for parent scholars), and yoga classes (to counteract the stress and physical strain of conference attendance) have become de rigeur for ICA. New in 2019, I am pleased that ICA was able to offer a private, comfortable, and lockable nursing room; complimentary minifridges in sleeping rooms for those who need to store breastmilk; AA meetings each morning and information on addiction and mental health resources near the conference venue and by phone; a Quiet Room for attendees seeking a respite from the days’ activities, and further assistance with accommodations accessed through a new check box on our registration form. I personally handle all accommodation requests, which have ranged from severe allergies to access to ADA-accessible sleeping rooms to specific technology needs for closed captioning equipment. The page detailing all of ICA’s efforts in this area can be found here. We hope to expand these offerings even further in the future.

 

Moving Forward with Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access

In last month’s newsletter, the Executive Committee released a statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) and announces the creation of a new Task Force on this very pressing issue. If you didn’t catch that statement last month, please take the time to read it here

 

Committees & Task Forces

The roster of new committees and task forces created in the last two years speaks to ICA’s commitment to moving ever forward. The three newly created 2018 task forces on Authorship, Ethical Considerations and Visual Identity have successfully completed their work. The Committee (formerly TF) on Division and Interest Group Mentoring and Coordination has created a structure around which our subgroups will find continuity and establish avenues for preserving institutional knowledge. We also released our new visual identity, which you will start to see reflected on our website, our auto signatures, our newsletter, and in our conference branding. If you’re at a sister association’s conference and you want to stop by to say hi at the ICA booth, it isn’t green anymore—look for us with the black tablecloth and banners, with vivid bars of color and our new logo! We love the new look!

 

Administrative

In the past year, the headquarters office has continued to refine our internal procedures and policies, and to codify existing methods with SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) documents that strengthen the association’s institutional memory and make onboarding new employees more streamlined. We implemented a new employee handbook in early 2018, as well as a training deck for new hires. We also made a great hire in late 2018—concurrent with the promotion of Jennifer Le to Senior Manager of Conference Services—with the addition of Katie Wolfe, Exhibits and Conference Services Manager, to our team. In addition, we are almost finished with the creation of an onboarding handbook for new officers (both ICA-wide positions and Division/IG officers), to make deadlines and procedures more transparent for those who donate so much of their time to the success of the organization.

 

We undertook a lengthy and time-consuming process in 2018 to completely revamp and customize our conference submission system with the implementation of ScholarOne Abstracts. While this process was not without its (many) frustrations, the online feedback of the Board of Directors was that the improvements were enough to warrant staying the course and continuing to refine the system in future years. The conference team is currently working to refine the requested changes and get the system up and running to accept your submissions for #ica20 in Australia’s Gold Coast beginning in September.

 

In conjunction with a national effort from Starbucks corporate to pull back their oversaturation of several major US markets, Starbucks cut its footprint in DC by 35%, including closing the Starbucks location that served as the ICA headquarters’ sole tenant. They shuttered in early Fall and Cushman + Wakefield has helped me handle the search for a new tenant with aplomb. We have had 40+ potential tenants tour the space and are nearing a final lease agreement with one of the top candidates. We anticipate having a lease signed by August and a tenant open for business by January 2020. In the potential lease, ICA has three years of guaranteed rent in escrow from the tenant, and the tenant is not requiring any buildout funding from ICA to customize the space. Fortunately, our Starbucks lease allowed for a penalty payout for breaking the lease early, so we have income to replace the missing rent while we wait for the new tenant to open.

 

Divisions and Interest Groups

ICA has long made a name for itself by constantly making connections between issues often seen as disparate and using those differences to move the field forward in a unified way. Part of what makes ICA so valuable is its interdisciplinary nature, through which its leaders bring varied backgrounds and perspectives to a common table to advance the goals of the association. We have one new interest group which was approved by the Board of Directors in May 2019: Human and Machine Communication. Congratulations! The most recent addition to the ICA interest group family, the Activism, Communication & Social Justice Interest Group, continues to knock it out of the park with record-setting submissions for so new a group. The Division and Interest Group Mentoring Committee also has one or two groups on its radar to possibly promote to Division status in the coming year. With 33 divisions and interest groups in existence now, the Board of Directors also voted to create a Task Force to review the process for interest group creation and make recommendations moving forward.

 

Annual Conference

ICA’s fiscal health is strong. While ICA’s conference used to only break even and the association was carried financially by the publications revenue, that formula has now flipped with the impending move towards Open Access (not just for ICA but as a field), with the conference now representing a much larger piece of the revenue “pie.” Our annual conference is the “crown jewel” of our activities, and while response to last year’s conference in Prague was unprecedented with over 3,500 attendees, this year’s conference in DC’s #ica19 final attendance numbers totaled 3,847 attendees!

 

No growth, however, is accomplished without growing pains. Because ICA has historically signed contracts for conferences six to eight years in advance, there is a bit of a lag in the number of sleeping room blocks contracted that has not kept up with the demand. In San Diego, we had to book 500 more rooms on peak nights than ICA ever had before, at four different hotels all within walking distance, and still ended up with a small wait list (in the end, every single person that wanted a room was connected with one). In Prague, we again sold out on day one of the booking site being opened, and augmented that with numerous extra blocks at hotels close by.

 

A new partnership with Experient has allowed us to manage and forecast our housing needs from a much more data-driven perspective than ever before, and to strengthen our hotel block contracting to protect ICA much better in the case of catastrophic events, so while we still have to outgrow some of the housing contracts signed many, many years ago (after fixing weaknesses in contracts for 2018, 19, and 20), we are well equipped to meet the needs of our attendees moving forward. I am also working to break the stranglehold that Hilton has had on our meetings, as they have gotten a bit too comfortable with us (leading to subpar offers during negotiations). Brands for upcoming years marked below.

 

For the first time in ICA’s recent history, we did NOT sell out this year and did NOT have to maintain a wait list. Because it was based on detailed pickup history, our block was sized “just right.” The conference sessions were housed entirely in the Washington Hilton, with a small amount of event overflow at the Omni (with a room block of approx. 250 rooms there on peak nights). A shuttle bus paid for with subvention funding turned the 20 minute walk from Omni to Hilton into a 7 minute shuttle ride. Kimpton (8 minutes’ walk) and Kimpton (across the street from Hilton) rounded out the housing block. While blocking hotel sleeping rooms is a mixture of art, science, and Vegas-or-Macau-style gambling, I am delighted to say that this year we were able to predict—because we now use data from past years—pretty precisely what the need would be, and all four hotels realized bookings between 90% and 100% of our predictions (meaning we met all of our guarantees with the hotels without undershooting).

 

As for the future, we are currently contracted through 2025 with the exception of 2024 in Asia (TBD). Below is a decade of hotel contracting for ICA:  

   

YEAR        CITY                        COUNTRY                REGION                   HOTEL BRAND       

2015     San Juan, Puerto Rico   US Territory          North America            Hilton

2016     Fukuoka                         JAPAN                   Asia/Oceania             Hilton

2017     San Diego, California    USA                       North America            Hilton

2018     Prague                       CZECH REPUBLIC  Europe                        Hilton + Hilton

2019     Washington, DC         USA                         North America             Hilton

2020     Gold Coast                 AUSTRALIA            Asia/Oceania               Star + Sofitel +apts

2021     Denver, Colorado       USA                         North America             Hyatt + Hyatt

2022     Paris                           FRANCE                  Europe                        Le Meridien + Hyatt

2023     Toronto, Ontario         CANADA                  North America             Sheraton

2024     TBD                            TBD                           Asia/Oceania              TBD

2025     Honolulu, Hawaii        USA                          North America             Hilton

2026     TBD                           TBD                          Europe

                                            

The Australia #ica20 Conference

As we approach the #ica20 conference in the Gold Coast, I will do a series of articles highlighting why this might actually turn out to be my favorite ICA conference location yet. For now, suffice it to say: the entire locale is completely walkable and safe, the weather during the conference will be PERFECT, the two conference locations are connected by a pedestrian bridge (no dodging traffic a la Prague!), and we are lining up amazing cultural experiences for the conference. You can walk out the front door of the convention center and walk toward the beach and have your toes in the water within 12 minutes! We recommend you fly into Brisbane airport, and ICA will be contracting with a bus company to take attendees’ the hour or so drive from Brisbane to the Gold Coast (there is also a GC airport accessible domestically within Australia, but it is much smaller and still 45 minutes away). If money is tight, we recommend you check out one of the many apartment properties we will have this year in addition to our traditional hotel block format. We will have blocks at the Star (home to half the sessions) and the Sofitel at more typical ICA conference guaranteed rates, but if you’re looking to really save money and you don’t mind grabbing a colleague or two (or three), we’ve got great one, two, and three-bedroom apartments that you’ll be able to access. A two bedroom apartment with two twin beds in each bedroom sleeps four, has a kitchen (so you can save money on food by preparing your own breakfast etc) and a washer/dryer, amazing views of the mountains and the beach, and if sleeping four the price works out to only about US$45 per night per person! You can’t beat that. This way, #ica20 doesn’t have to be any more expensive, you’re just shifting the bulk of your expense from lodging to your flight. And as our incoming president Claes deVreese points out, it’s wonderful that our ICA members in Asia DON’T have to bear the burden of the long flight this time. I’ll be back each month with more pro tips on how to attend #ica20 on the cheap – stay tuned!

 

Regional Conferences

Our 2018 regionals took place in Africa and Malaysia, with great success (see regional conferences committee report). Africa has entered into a nice flow of one ICA Regional in African every two years.

 

Environmental Concerns

We continue to manage to do more and more with our resources while at the same time keeping sustainability and sound fiscal decisions at the fore. With the support of last year’s Board, we continue to move slowly toward the elimination of the “big” print program, replacing it with the augmented “thin” program and reliance on the conference app. We currently charge US$10 per attendee for the large program, and this surcharge will continue to rise bit by bit as we wean attendees off of this tool. Currently only slightly over 10% of conference attendees order the large program.

 

The board also approved a proposal from the Sustainability committee for an optional “carbon footprint offset option” for conference attendees. When you register for #ica20, you will be able to select to add the carbon offset if you wish. Please also note that those concerned about the carbon footprint of individual conference attendance should take care to book flights on newer planes (which are more fuel efficient), make fewer connections, and take note of the significant sustainability initiatives and environmental certifications at both of our venues this year, the GCCEC (sustainability at the GCCCEC) and the Star (Star environmental programs).

 

Fellows, Honors, and Awards

Through the hard work of Fellows Chairs Larry Gross (2017), Cynthia Stohl (2018), and Francois Cooren (2019), who have led initiatives to increase candidacies from diverse prospective Fellows, our Fellow demographics are becoming more and more diverse in terms of gender, geography, and ethnicity, and are beginning to reflect ICA’s truly global membership. We continue to have no shortage of talented and qualified candidates for elected offices within the association, and we have an abundance of deserving candidates for the ICA-wide awards each year. All of this points to an association that is thriving. Barbie Zelizer has been elected as the Fellows Chair for 2019-2020 and is undergoing a conversation as we speak with the ICA Fellows cohort to determine next steps as they relate to the diversity of new Fellows’ candidates.

 

Financial Aid

We continue to give over US$60,000 in travel grants to students (and limited faculty with financial hardships and extenuating circumstances), particularly those in Tier B & C countries. The more students we can assist, the better, for it is that personal contact with ICA as an organization, the conversations with colleagues and mentors, the “a-ha moments” they have listening to a talk, that keeps people coming back year after year as we nurture the “next generation” of ICA scholars.

 

Lastly, we continue to come together to move the association forward, even in the face of new challenges such as global nationalism, travel bans, censorship, and the struggle to adhere to the spirit of Open Access while remaining financially viable as an NPO. We live in an increasingly fragmented and combative world, but ICA is well positioned to meet every challenge. Through the evolution detailed above, we will make ICA an even stronger institution. With your input, participation, and support, we can be assured that the International Communication Association has a future as bright as its legacy. We have a talented and engaged team at the ICA headquarters in Washington, DC, and we are each focused on providing excellent service to our members. Feel free to reach out to any of us at any time; we are happy to hear from you!  

 


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