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GAPP Hosts International AUSACE Conference Exploring Compelling Media Research and Awards GAPP Students and Alumni for Quality Research

Featuring tp-notch research on media issues, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) has hosted the Arab-US Communication Educators (AUSACE) Conference between October 21 and 23.

Held for the fourth time at AUC, the 22nd Annual AUSACE conference revolved around the theme of “Journalism and Mass Communication in the Age of Instant information”, bringing outstanding contributions from the sixty-eight participants representing Egypt, the USA, UAE, Iraq, Jordan Kuwait, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and England. 

The conference was followed by an award ceremony, where excellence in research awards for papers written in English were received by three of GAPP's own master programs alumni. The excellence in research awards for papers written in Arabic were given to three media professors from the University of Baghdad, Iraq.

Audience members exceeded one hundred with a high presence of graduates and undergraduates from AUC.

The conference featured a range of twenty-three productive English and Arabic panels that addressed a wide range of thematic areas related to the central theme.

Journalism in the digital era, expectations of media audiences, teaching journalism and media to digital natives, photojournalism in the age of Instagram, conflict coverage, special Olympics coverage, combating hate speech, community building in the digital epoch and the empowerment of women, and advertising, branding and film in an evolving era were among the key topics unwrapped at the conference.

Keynote speaker Robb Montgomery, media innovation strategist and journalist, spoke at the opening ceremony, highlighting how technology and its current applications are evolving at the speed of light, thus transforming the media scene.

The 2017 conference offered a rich and diverse agenda to participants thanks to the conference partnerships with JWT Egypt, Travco Properties, The Ministry of Tourism and the Journal of Arab Media conference.

Guest speakers this year included: Charly Joseph Wehbe Regional Head of Customer Experience Management- MENA at JWT and Ahmad Abdelkader, Head of Business Operations Cairo gave a presentation on the successful “This is Egypt” campaign capitalizing on new media technologies to promote and rebrand Egypt as a touristic destination during a time of crisis.

In the second plenary panel guest speakers Tarek Atia, CEO and founder, Egypt Media Development Program, Sherif Bakr, CEO, Al-Arabi Publishing house and Secretary General, Egyptian Publishers Association, Mohamed Shoeir Assistant Editor in Chief and Opinion Page Writer, Al-Ahram and Mohamed Abdel-Rahman Editor-in-chief, and consultant to the Cinema and TV industries discussed the revival of literary journalism in attempt to create an audience for long-form journalism and nonfiction equivalent of the great Egyptian novel of the past. 

Noteworthy presentations included a panel presenting guest speakers MP Mona Amer and member of the National Council for Women, MP Marianne Azer, Nile University, Egypt and MP Manal El Gameil, NGO specialist who discussed the stance and empowerment of women during the current era through the moderation of Dr. Mervat Abou Oaf.

Another dominant theme at the conference was the phenomena of hate speech in media worldwide and methods of combating this detrimental trend. Dr. Naila Hamdy, chair of the organizing committee, discussed the issue together with Dr. Phil Auter, University of Louisiana, Lafayette. She also launched a hate speech glossary authored by graduate students under her supervision as a starting point to raising awareness and starting a debate in Egypt and the Arab region. Professor Firas Al-Atrqchi, JRMC chair, Dr. Zahre Harb, City University, London, and Dr. Abeer Alnajjar, American University in Sharjah also gave presentations on dangers of hate speech in both traditional and social media.

Held in the historically-rich location of Cairo, the participants spent a day at the Pyramids, and also visited the Islamic Museum and Khan Al Khalil Bazar after three days of significant contributions to the conference.

The closing ceremony of AUSACE in Cairo was held on the bank of the Nile with a dinner at the Nile Maxim boat, courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.

The AUSCACE Conference allows media practitioners, academics and professionals to exchange research and ideas about the current trends in media and communication scholarship. The conference tackles a wide range of topics, including journalism and media education, media content production, new formats and tools and achievements in the regional and international arena.

Five GAPP affiliated researchers have also received excellence in research awards at the conference:

Arpi Khatcherian, who graduated with a master’s in journalism and mass communication in 2016 from AUC, received a first-place award for excellence in research for conference papers written in English. 
Khatcherian presented her research on the depiction of alcohol in Egyptian cinema. Her paper was titled, “From Piety to Decadence? A Content Analysis of Alcohol in Egyptian Films between 1997-2015”.
The second-place award was given to Reem Gehad, a current graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in media policy at the School of GAPP. 

Gehad presented her paper, “Publication ban orders and news production in Egypt in the digital era”, looking at the role played by social media in information dissemination in light of the recent increase in gag orders issued in Egypt.
The third-place award was received jointly by Khatcherian, Frank Bartscheck, and Farida Temraz, also AUC journalism and mass communication alumni, for their paper titled, “Laughter in the Social Network: Tracking Political Humor in Egypt during the 2014 President Campaign.”

The three excellence in research awards for papers written in Arabic were given to three media academics from the University of Baghdad, Iraq.     

The conference’s theme this year focused on journalism in the age of instant communication. The 2017 annual conference brought together outstanding contributions from the 68 participants representing Egypt, the USA, UAE, Iraq, Jordan Kuwait, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Ireland and England.