Fifth International Conference on Communication & Media Studies
Virtual Conference
1-2 October 2020

2020 Special Focus - A Pandemic of Misinformation: Truth in Bubbles?

From the first knowledge of the emergence of COVID-19, we have relied on forms of media, and their defining technologies, to keep us updated and stay connected. The information we receive shapes health attitudes and adherence to preventive measures. It informs how we act as individuals and citizens. The virus itself has not only has created news to be reported. It also has produced a new kind of dependency on communication media. And as a result of social distancing actions, there is a logical increase in media consumption.

A landscape of traditional broadcast media gatekeepers has been juxtaposed with social media actors and the bubbles that are created by narrowcasting into our customized feeds. Alternative news and conspiracy theorists are all vying for position, forecasting effects and prescribing necessary responses to the pandemic. In this information milieu, there has been a proliferation of misinformation. Providing accurate and authoritative information to the public has been colored by political partisanship and fostered mistrust of ‘mainstream’ media—even to the point where the principles of modem science are thrown into question. UN Secretary-General António Guterres argues that “the antidote to this pandemic of misinformation is fact-based news and analysis.” But how do we curtail misinformation when we don’t have a common understanding of a shared truth? What, in this media context, is “fact”? And when powerful digital media and platforms choose to be agnostic in the “truth” business, what hope do we have of finding common ground to address this and other existential threats?

2020 Plenary Speakers

Maureen Webb

Maureen Webb

"Manufacturing Consensus"

Labor Lawyer, Human Rights Activist, author of Coding Democracy: How Hackers Are Disrupting Power, Surveillance and Authoritarianism (MIT Press, 2020)

Luca Follis

Luca Follis

"A Riot of Data: Crisis Narratives and the Politics of Counting under COVID"

Senior Lecturer, Law and Society, Lancaster University, UK

Melissa Zimdars

Melissa Zimdars

"A Media Studies Approach to Misinformation"

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Media, Merrimack College, USA

2020 Emerging Scholars

A small number of Emerging Scholar Awards are given to outstanding graduate students and emerging scholars who have an active research interest in the conference themes. The Award provides a strong professional development opportunity for early career academics—meeting experts in the field, interacting with colleagues from other parts of the world, and creating networks and lasting connections.


  • Wendy Kalman, MA Student in Public Administration & Integrated Global Communication, Kennesaw State University, USA
  • Abu Haque, PhD Candidate, York University & Ryerson University, Canada
  • Stephen Sewell, Artist, Filmmaker and Educator, USA
  • Francesco Cioglia, Teaching and Research Associate, University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • Yating Yu, PhD candidate, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
  • Urwa Tariq, Research Assistant and Ph.D. Candidate, UAE University
  • Millie Phiri, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


  • Mario Zaragoza Ramírez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México

Virtual Presentations

Virtual Posters

Virtual Posters present preliminary results of work or projects that lend themselves to visual representations. View the posters below.

Virtual Presentations

Virtual Presentations are grouped by general themes. Each presenter's formal, written paper will be available to participants if accepted to the journal.