Creative Cultures for Media Progression: An Unconference (13th June, Warsaw)

Written by Michał Głowacki and Lizzie Jackson


International media experts, representatives of cultural institutions, startup communities and Warsaw’s City Hall gathered in the city of Warsaw for an Unconference: “Creative Cultures for Media Progression”. The aim of the day was to discuss the need for changes to the organisational structures and partnership arrangements of public service media firms. The unconference format offers opportunities to explore new methods of exchanging and building knowledge.


The unconference was based in the Warsaw’s Praga regeneration district and run in collaboration with the City Hall. 50 scholars and industry attendees experienced a ‘World Café’ and ‘Fishbowl’ style debate. These are designed to promote inclusive speaking from everyone in response to initial provocations from experts. The topics ranged from how to support sustainable frameworks for R&D and innovation to the challenge of re-structuring more traditional media organisations to become continuously learning and agile.


Presentations about the ‘VRT Sandbox’ and the European Broadcasting Union’s ‘MediaRoad’ projects offered an exciting new way for media firms to collaborate on small R&D projects at low risk. In this way the intellectual and practical aspects of adapting to the networked media landscape were covered. The University of Warsaw’s incubator start-ups offered demonstration pitches to show how collaborations between small to medium-sized businesses and universities can also assist adaptation and growth.


The afternoon ended with Pecha Kucha presentations from delegates (twenty slides in twenty minutes), and the unveiling of two ‘Walls of Freedom’ created by students from the Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies. These expressed the need for a free press and a strong public service broadcaster. Students from the University were concurrently (but as an independent action) occupying the Pałac Kazimierzowski building in the University across the river to express the same theme. The day ended with a ‘VR Dance’ by Tomasz Bazan and electronic versions of traditional Polish music by the band Marzy Mi się Yokohama.



Towards Advanced Media Ecologies


The idea to run an unconference derived from a three year research project “Public Service Media in the Digital Mediascapes: People, Values and Processes” funded by the Polish Science Foundation. The project aims to assist public service media to adapt to networked media and participatory culture. Dr Michal Glowacki and Professor Lizzie Jackson have been looking at high technology clusters in 10 different cities to find out how they continuously adapt to changing market conditions. The ethnographic industry study looks at firms within each cluster from the perspective of their organisational culture. The ten cities are Austin, Boston/Cambridge, Brussels, Copenhagen, Detroit, London, Tallinn, Toronto, Vienna and Warsaw. Findings show the need for collaboration and partnerships, hence the need for leadership and management skills to support collaborations between large, medium and small creative businesses. Furthermore, there is an urgent need for partnerships between media and computing specialists, and between media firms and cultural institutions, universities, City Councils and so on.


Public Service Media: Innovation for Europe?


One of the roles of public service media in the pure broadcast era was to provide contemporary, innovative, quality radio and television services. PSBs have also had the important civic function of providing news and other tools to support civic engagement, knowledge-building, and a sense of community. To continue to do this, obviously, public service broadcasting needs to adapt to become public service media; acknowledging new functions for a highly connected audience. They also have an obligation to give high public value “PSM must share their innovation insights with the industry. They can play important role as accelerator of innovation. They have to play the role, it is not CAN they play it, they MUST play it” (interview, Brussels, September 2016). Hopefully the EBU’s Media Road project and studies from scholars that aim to support adaptation and change will help, but ultimately, it’s also the responsibility of national governments to ensure PSM has the right climate to evolve for the benefit of future generations.


“Public Service Media in the Digital Mediascapes: People, Values and Processes” is being funded by the National Science Centre of Poland. To find out about the project: www.creativemediaclusters.com



michalDr. Michał Głowacki is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw, Poland. He was the Programme Advisor to the Advisory Group on Public Service Media Governance at the Council of Europe in 2010. He has been involved in several large European research projects including ‘Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe’ and ‘Journalism in Change: Professional Journalistic Cultures in Russia, Poland and Sweden’. Michal has been awarded scholarships by the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, the Swedish Institute, the Research Council of Norway and the Polish-American Fulbright Commission. His research interests are media policy, public service media, accountability and innovation culture. 

lizzieProf. Lizzie Jackson is a Professor at the School of Arts and Creative Industries, London South Bank University, UK. She was one of the eight Advisors to the Council of Europe who drafted the current Declaration and Recommendation on the governance of public service media (2012). Lizzie launched the BBC’s Online Communities in 1997 and she also managed the BBC’s live streaming team and internet safety initiatives. Lizzie was named ‘One of the 100 Innovators of the UK Internet Decade’ in 2005 by NOP World and eConsultancy.com for her work developing the Social Media industry in the UK.

Photos: Anna Nowakowska

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