War and News Media to be Focus of Conference at UB

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: November 6, 2003 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The relationship between war and the media as seen from a variety of perspectives will be the focus of an international conference to be held at the University at Buffalo on Nov. 17 and 18.

The "War & Media Conference" will examine war -- with a special emphasis on the war in Iraq -- from an array of cultural and artistic, as well as academic, viewpoints.

The conference, to be held from 2-5 p.m. Nov. 17 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Screening Room of the Center for the Arts, North (Amherst) Campus, will be free and open to the public.

Bernadette Wegenstein, organizer of the conference, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Media Study in the UB College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), says it springs from an undergraduate class she teaches, "Introduction to Media Analysis: Media and War."

"I've felt a real interest (in the topic) from the students," she says, noting that she's found it particularly interesting, as a European, to mediate between two cultural perspectives. She added that the comments and perspectives of her European friends and colleagues also have helped to shape the conference.

The format of the conference is rather unconventional for an academic enterprise, she notes, pointing out that material is being presented in three roundtable sessions -- and much of it from perspectives other than the purely academic. She anticipates the format will lead to more lively discussion than often is found at academic conferences.

The conference will open with an introductory talk by Bruce Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture in the Department of English in the CAS, entitled "The Media at War: Bringing it all Back Home."

Jackson will moderate the first roundtable, "Challenges of Covering the War in Iraq," featuring three journalists who covered the war. They are Jerry Zremski, a reporter with The Buffalo News, who was embedded with the troops in Kuwait and Iraq; Ian Kalushner, a news producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and "unilateral" journalist who covered the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border and southern Iraq, and Thomas Seifert, an Austrian political correspondent who covered the war from a unilateral perspective in Baghdad.

This session will offer views of the war from a variety of perspectives: embedded vs. non-embedded, print vs. broadcast, and American vs. Canadian vs. Austrian, Wegenstein says. Albert L. Michaels, professor of history and an expert in military history, will offer comments as well.

The second roundtable, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 18, is entitled "War and Media-Resistance." It will open with a presentation by Trebor Scholz, an artist and UB assistant professor of media study, who will offer his hypermedia documentary project, "79 Days," which examines media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Kosovo. The discussion following "79 Days" will focus on various modes of war resistance, including "war blogs," and feature Moroccan-born U.S. conceptual video artist Abdelali Dahrouch; Michael Niman, assistant professor of journalism and media studies at Buffalo State College, and Italian sociologist Pierluigi Boda. Holly Johnson, adjunct instructor and graduate student in the Department of Media Study, will serve as moderator.

Artist Caroline Koebel, UB assistant professor of media study, will open the final roundtable, entitled "Media Dialectics" by screening for the first time short videos from her "Conceptual Media Activism" series. The session, which Wegenstein describes as "a more purely academic panel," will be held from 2:30-4:45 p.m. Nov. 18. Topics to be discussed include a linguistic perspective of television coverage of the Iraq war by Louann Haarman of the University of Bologna; a comparative study of U.S. and Italian war coverage by Linda Lombardo of Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome, and an in-depth look at anti-Americanism and the German-language media by Michael Freund, a Vienna-based journalist. Diane Christian, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of English, will serve as moderator.

UB sponsors of the conference include the Department of Media Study, the College of Arts and Sciences Fund for Conferences and Lectures 2003-04, the Butler Chair in the Department of English, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the McNulty Chair in the Department of English (Dennis Tedlock), the Samuel P. Capen Chair in American Culture in the Department of English (Bruce Jackson), The Michael M. and Erika A. Metzger Special Events Endowment Fund of the Graduate Group for German and American Studies, the UB Anderson Gallery and the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy.

For a full schedule of events and biographical information about the participants, go to http://www.cas.buffalo.edu/classes/dms/berna/mrd/media/confer/.