Thursday, June 2nd, 2011 - La Trobe University Thesis Eleven Festival of Ideas

International Festival of Ideas exposes the media

How much has the media changed since September 11 2011? Have TV talk shows and newspaper opinion pages fundamentally altered in the way they deliberate about contemporary US democracy? Is the “War on Terror’ simply a media construct?

These and other complex questions will be debated by two leading US sociologists at the opening of Word, Image, Action: popular print and visual cultures, Festival of Ideas that opens on Tuesday 7 June at the North Melbourne Town Hall at 6pm.

Drawing on their new book The Space of Opinion, Ronald Jacobs and Eleanor Townsley will offer an insightful and authoritative account of the newspaper op-ed pages, the Sunday morning political talk shows on television, and the evening cable news television line up in their discussion - Media intellectuals and political discourse after September 11, 2001.

The public lecture will provide a close reading of debates surrounding the “War on Terror” reveal how each opinion format has developed its own distinctive understanding of politics, journalism, and critique.

The media’s role in political and financial debates will be placed in the spotlight in two other public lectures during the Festival of Ideas.

Does Wikileaks really matter? will be debated at the Wheeler Centre on Monday 13 June between 3 and 5pm.

A panel of leading thinkers including Rob Manne, Guy Rundle, Eleanor Townsley and Peter Vale, will consider the impact of Wikileaks along with the implications of Wikileaks for access to information, security, and innovation at this public forum.

According to Professor Manne, much has been made of the 251,287 semi-secret cables published by Wikileaks and the supposed catastrophic impact they have wrecked on U.S. foreign policy and national security.

“The forum will consider whether the impact of Wikileaks is true or just extraordinary exaggeration, and whether it has had more impact on public opinion because of the collapse of investigative journalism,” he said.

The final public lecture The Media Narrative in the Global Financial Crisis is on Monday 13 June at 6.30pm at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Ronald Jacobs will look at the role of the media during the global financial crisis and in its continued hype. He says “The world changed in 2008 when collapses in local markets within the United States sparked off panic among global investors and the eventual development of the most diverse financial crisis of modern times. The media played an important part then and continues to do so today.”

The Festival, Word, Image, Action: popular print and visual cultures, will open on Tuesday 7 June and end on Wednesday 15 June.

It includes lectures, invited papers, plenaries, film screenings, artist discussions and a live performance from punk art band The Histrionics.

The Festival of Ideas is the initiative of Thesis Eleven Centre for Cultural Sociology, La Trobe University.

Details about Festival of Ideas are available at

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