Posted on October 26, 2019

Global academics and media professionals gathered recently at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) for an international conference on media management, innovation, and industry-wide developments.

The International Media Management Academic Association's (IMMAA) 2019 conference was the first-ever international conference hosted by NU-Q in Doha and welcomed conferees from 15 countries, including France, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Kuwait, Portugal, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. In his opening remarks, NU-Q Dean and CEO Everette E. Dennis introduced the conference chair Paulo Faustino, a noted Portuguese media management scholar and publisher, both acknowledging Northwestern University’s role in founding the IMMAA in 2004 under the leadership of the former dean of the Medill School, John Lavine, and Eli Noam of Columbia University, who was present at the conference.

As Dennis declared, "the IMMAA has championed the study of media economics and management in schools of communication, business, and journalism; and the process has both advanced theory and solved real-world media business problems.” He added that "NU-Q’s commitment to foster exceptional learning spaces for students and faculty will push the boundaries of the debates in this field even further.” The conference in plenary sessions and panels considered education for media management, media cities, legacy and social media, media influencers, TV binge-watching, new media audiences and metrics, business models, cryptocurrency in media,  data journalism, and other topics in some 40 sessions over three days.

Regional and country sessions included the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and East Asia, with specific case studies from Iran, Turkey, China, Russia, and other media venues. The association's co-founder, Noam of Columbia University, led a discussion that urged the media management field to change its priorities and tilt more toward management principles and practices rather than those taught in schools of communication. Professor Joe F. Khalil, media scholar at NU-Q, laid out an analysis of the world’s current media cities in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe – a timely topic as Qatar is about to launch a media city, announced in an Emiri Decree in July 2019.

Qatar's media scene was the focus of a panel led by Dennis including NU-Q faculty Ilhem Allagui and Gregory Lowe, both media management scholars, and Gregory Bergida, NU-Q's director of planning and strategy. The Qatar media ecosystem was described as “bold and robust with such features at Al Jazeera, beIN SPORTS, legacy media, and heavy social media use.” During the discussion, Allagui pointed out that “Qatar tops the list of countries in the region with not only the highest internet penetration rate but also in the shift to using smart devices as opposed to traditional ones to access the internet.”

A session was also held to discuss the latest findings from NU-Q’s longitudinal Media Use in the Middle East 2018 survey. Those attending expressed interest in the study which has been conducted at NU-Q since 2013, with Noam declaring it “an important and unprecedented effort by a school and a model for others.” Several additional members of the NU-Q faculty made presentations and took part in panel discussions, as well as chairing conference sessions. Participants also toured NU-Q’s building and museum - The Media Majlis at Northwestern University in Qatar, as well as other sites across Doha including the Qatar National Museum, and the Museum of Islamic Art, and took part in a hands-on workshop at Al Jazeera Network.

Operating since 2004, the IMMAA is comprised of researchers and professors committed to the study of media management to improve institutional practice and enhance education in media markets for current and future media managers.  Media executives, managers, and employees in Qatar were invited to attend the sessions.

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