Robert A. Hackett to receive the Dallas Smythe Award

The Union for Democratic Communications is pleased to announce that Robert A. Hackett will receive the Dallas Smythe Award at the 2015 UDC conference.

Bob Hackett

Robert A. Hackett has been a professor and researcher in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University since 1984. Although his academic degrees are in political studies, Hackett switched to communication studies after encountering Dallas Smythe and his work in 1980. Hackett’s publications include seven books, mostly collaborative, in the areas of media activism, political communication and news analysis. Hackett helped to found several community-based media action and education initiatives, including the media monitoring project NewsWatch Canada in 1993, Vancouver’s annual Media Democracy Days in 2001, and in 2007. He is on the editorial board of eight journals, and his work has been translated into Chinese, Serbian and Ukrainian.

His work in media activism, communication rights and democratic communication models focuses on popular efforts to make media institutions more accountable and diverse, in alliance with social movements that aim to redistribute social, economic and political power and capital. In particular, Hackett has been concerned with media democratization as a rising social movement, the subject of Remaking Media (with William K. Carroll, Routledge, 2006). In conjunction with WACC and, he has also researched Canadian activists’ views of communication policy in the Canadian context.

Hackett’s research in journalism studies has focussed on the “regime of objectivity” in news, and its ideological implications (with Yuezhi Zhao); “blind spots” in the agenda of Canada’s corporate press (with Donald Gutstein and NewsWatch Canada); and news representations of public issues, including workers’ struggles, the peace movement, and international conflict. He has a particular interest in “challenger paradigms,” such as peace journalism and alternative media, as more democratic and empowering forms of public communication. The need for journalism that can support transformational social movements is all the more urgent in the context of global climate crisis, the focus of Hackett’s current research with colleagues in Canada and Australia.

About the Dallas Smythe award
The Dallas Smythe Award is given in loving memory of one of the great pioneers of the study of the political economy of communications and one of the great leaders in the struggle for democratic communications. At each conference, the Union for Democratic Communications honors a critical media scholar/activist whose work exhibits the spirit of engagement, democracy, teaching, and feistiness to which the UDC is committed.

Past recipients of the Dallas Smythe Award include Santiago Alvarez, John Downing, Tom Guback, DeeDee Halleck, Ed Herman, Robert McChesney, Eileen Meehan, Vincent Mosco, Manju Pendakur, Peter Phillips, Herb Schiller, Janet Wasko, and Yuezhi Zhao.

The award will be presented at the 2015 conference at University of Toronto, Canada, May 1-3.


Call for proposals from media activists

The call for proposals is now closed.

Join us!

This May Day in Toronto, participate in Circuits of Struggle, a three day conference bringing together activists, media makers, workers, artists, students, and scholars.

Hosted by the Union for Democratic Communication and co-sponsored by, this event will build knowledge, skills, and research agendas that strengthen media activism and the innovation/mobilization of communication technology for social justice.

We are coordinating an activist track, and seek proposals for panels, workshops, or sessions that:
1) share skills in radio, print, video, and/or web-based media;
2) review campaigns or actions that mobilize communication technology;
3) disseminate data from or identify research needs within radical media organizations.

See below for submission guidelines. Note the deadline for submitting a proposal is December 1, 2014.

Questions? Please contact Gretchen King.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is December 1, 2014.

UDC 2015 keynote speaker announced: Astra Taylor

We are very pleased to announce that Astra Taylor will deliver the keynote talk at the UDC 2015 conference. Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and activist. Her films include Zizek!, a feature documentary about the world’s most outrageous philosopher, and Examined Life, a series of excursions with contemporary thinkers including Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler, Cornel West, Peter Singer and others. Taylor’s essays and criticism have been published widely and she is the editor of Examined Life, a companion volume to the film, and coeditor of Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America. Taylor also helped launch the Occupy offshoot Strike Debt and its Rolling Jubilee campaign. Her latest book is The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. She is currently working on a documentary about democracy.

Call For Papers

CALL FOR PAPERS: Circuits of Struggle

Union for Democratic Communications 2015 conference
May 1-3, 2015, University of Toronto
Hosted by the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology
Deadline for submissions: December 1, 2014

The Union for Democratic Communications is dedicated to the critical study of ascendant, emergent, oppositional, democratic, and experimental forms of media, their production and distribution, and the development of local, regional and international systems of democratic communication. In this spirit, the organizers of the 2015 Toronto conference propose that participants engage with the theme of circuits of struggle.

Contemporary communication practices are marked by struggle. On the one hand, we live amid neoliberalism and austerity and the challenges these structures impose on democratic life, including precarity, debt, and enclosure. Capitalism has integrated communicative activity and digital technologies into a logic of accumulation that exploits all forms of the commons: the environment, languages, affects, information, and knowledge. Technological innovation makes possible new forms of surveillance and corporate control over these resources. On the other hand, this integration is incomplete. Individuals, organizations, and collectives are using these same technologies to fight back. Struggles for higher wages, less work, social justice, and a better quality of life are occurring worldwide. Those who struggle against domination are communicating across new channels in innovative and creative ways.

In this context, the 2015 conference organizers ask participants to engage in conversation about the nature of contemporary media, communication, and technological struggle, and the possibilities for transforming the contemporary neoliberal order.

We welcome proposals from emerging and established scholars, graduate students, activists, media makers, workers, and artists for presentations that speak to the theme or related issues in democratic communications, including new media and technologies, media and tech activism, policy, histories, gender and race, work and labour, social justice, and organizing and resistance. We welcome proposals for paper presentations, workshops, theme panels, film screenings, artistic interventions, and other formats.

Submission guidelines: Please submit a 300-500 word abstract or presentation description to For theme panels, please submit a short description of the panel and 300-500 word abstract for each presentation.

Graduate students who want to be considered for the Brian Murphy Student Paper Award should submit a full paper along with their abstract.

Deadline: December 1, 2014.

We look forward to seeing you in Toronto in 2015!