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The Future of Media Industry Studies: Academic-Industry Collaboration

by Ethan Tussey

by Jennifer Holt for IN MEDIA RES

 The current issue of Cinema Journal (Spring, 2013) offers a range of perspectives on the future of media industry studies, from rethinking distribution, industry infrastructures, and methodology, to the importance of soundwork studies and political economy. I am interested in reassessing scholars’ relationship to our object of study, and looking at the attendant challenges and opportunities that go along with navigating the demands of being simultaneously critical and engaged while we are also seeking access, research materials, and/or collaborative partnerships.

As various conferences include more industry participants, industry outreach expands, and we design new models for research funding, researchers have more opportunities to engage with “the industry.” The National Conference for Media Reform, MIT’s Futures of Entertainment conference, UCLA/USC’s Transmedia, Hollywood conference, the Association of Moving Image Archivists conference, the Media Industries Project, and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society are just some of the places where dialogue and collaboration is being fostered.  Some very productive conversations (and teaching materials) are coming out of these academic-industry interactions, including this well-circulated video from the television showrunner’s panel at SCMS 2010 in Los Angeles.  These opportunities and initiatives also bring additional considerations for researchers, including: how can we frame our scholarly research in ways that render our lines of inquiry productive for such exchanges? Is this “translation” a necessary component of research design moving forward if we are to create new partnerships, or not?  What is gained and lost in collaborating with the industry we study?

As part of this discussion, I refer to this clip from the  Law & Order conference put on by the UCSB’s Carsey-Wolf Center and the Film and Media Studies Department. It was a largely industry-funded event organized by scholars that brought journalists, executives, actors, producers, and academics together. In the four roundtables addressing the impact and significance of one of television’s longest-running series, the participants shed new light on the issues of branding, global format circulation, and television production through their dialogue. I am curious to hear about other topics that IMR readers think are worth exploring in such conversations, and what methodological or other challenges they have encountered in their own industry-oriented research. 

Law and Order: Changing Television: Session 1: The Brand

Panel discussion on Law and Order

from Law and Order: Changing Television: Session 1: The Brand (2012)
Creator: Carsey-Wolf Center
Distributor: Vimeo
Posted by Ethan Tussey