Special Issue of Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture
Deadline: September 1, 2018
Podcasting is a paradoxical medium. Its form and content are encoded with markers of the both the popular and the elite. On the one hand, it is a medium deeply embedded in the everyday practices of everyday people. We listen on the train, at the gym, or even on the job. It is frequently produced by avocational enthusiasts far removed from the elite spheres of media production culture. It is popular both in the sense that millions enjoy it and in its ability to so effectively blend into common activities. Yet at the same time podcasting often takes on the contours of elite discourse. The diversity of podcast offerings can yield highly specialized content requiring listeners to possess considerable expertise in esoteric subject matter. Political podcasts, in the hopes of differentiating themselves from more mainstream offerings, tend towards a wonkish focus that can be alienating and intentionally exclusionary to large groups of potentially interested listeners. Gunn and Brummett (2004) argue that the project of popular communication should be to foreclose the study of “elite culture” and privilege instead “the objects of everyday life.” In podcasting we find elements of the everyday and the elite interacting constantly and with considerable success. This special issue of Popular Communication will consider the ways in which the podcasting medium negotiates and benefits from these tendencies towards simultaneous inclusivity and exclusivity.
To do so, articles in this issue will analyze elements of podcasting’s brief but vibrant history, interrogating the medium’s popular possibilities, revolutionary promises and moment-defining media texts. Arriving in the midst of increasing global political turbulence and offering a relatively inexpensive form of mass expression, podcasting significantly expanded a public sphere once dominated by opinion journalism, talk radio, and public affairs television. In this sense, it offered a popularization of public sphere elements long dominated by elite discourse. Perhaps most alluringly, podcasting has offered a mode of discursive media aimed at younger, pop culture-savvy listeners invested in both on-demand programs and political consciousness. But this newfound freedom and flexibility does not necessarily mean that the paradigms established by older media have been abolished or even meaningfully disrupted. It took little time, for example, for large corporations and other elite institutions to dominate mainstream podcast rankings, the most influential of which is hosted by the global megalith Apple. Furthermore, the logics of narrowcasting have driven numerous independent producers towards increasingly specific content, fracturing the public and perhaps obscuring some of the popular potential of the medium. Podcasting thus offers new opportunities for expression, but nonetheless replicates certain historically established patterns of media concentration and limitation. Specific research questions of interest to this special issue include but are not by any means limited to:
- How has the growth of podcasting both expanded and contracted the discursive possibilities for popular political media across the world?
- How do the histories of radio, regulation, and network distribution help to contextualize the popular dynamics of political podcasting?
- How do algorithms, rating systems, and other data structures impact the work of producers attempting to gain audiences for their political podcasts?
- How do podcasts fit into or defy traditions of progressive media?
- How do podcasts circulate globally and mediate debates over globalization, immigration, diaspora and other international concerns?
- How do podcasts embrace the blending of information and entertainment found elsewhere in global political media?
The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2018.
Papers should be no longer than 7,000 words (all inclusive).
Papers should be submitted using ScholarOne at http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hppc20/current.
Full instructions for authors, including APA 6th Edition style guidelines, can be found at the same page.