CFP: Disrupting Media Infrastructures

Call for submissions to Northern Lights, Volume 17, 2019 – Theme issue on:

Disrupting media infrastructures: Transforming media industries and public spheres

Volume editors: Kirsten Frandsen and Stig Hjarvard

During the recent decades digitization has enabled a fundamental disruption of many parts of the existing communication infrastructure of both the media industries and the larger society. Technological and institutional structures that have hitherto served as the underlying framework for mainly nationally oriented media systems have been disrupted by the emergence of new digital production, distribution, and communication technologies and business models. Media act in a double role as both objects of transformation an as agents of the disruptive forces with consequences for individual media’s performance and for the overall media structure and its interfaces with the wider society. Older media organizations and professions are struggling not only to develop new business models but also to invent new forms of content and ways of reaching and engaging users. As a result, new forms of distribution, new strategic alliances, and new types of collaboration are emerging nationally and transnationally. Furthermore, the ability to steer developments through national public policies has diminished, leaving regulators and policy makers with still fewer options to influence the communicative infrastructure of society.

Disruption is often related to changing distribution models, including the general transition from push to pull modes of distribution. Public and private broadcasters’ live and flow based services are giving way to on-demand and streaming services. Legacy news media are losing control over their distribution platforms (newspapers and websites) when audiences increasingly find their news through social network media. The ubiquity of digital media has made data about audiences and users a key commodity and the automated and intelligent processing of information about users’ digital footprints allows for much more sophisticated forms of marketing, targeting individual users with customized advertising and content recommendations. Disruption has often been instigated by global agents such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon that in some regions of the world have acquired near-monopoly status within particular areas such as search-based advertising, social network media, and online shopping. These companies’ control over key networks and technologies raises a series of questions regarding the national media companies’ ability to successfully adapt to a digital infrastructure. Especially because the global companies are now using their distribution-based wealth to establish themselves as important media content producers in genres such as television drama series and news.

The consequences of disruption are manifold and appear within several domains. Within media industries the disruption of the value chain entails the break-up of existing models and circuits of production and distribution making existing professional skills and values (e.g. within journalism) obsolete and prompting industries to look for new types of competences (e.g. within computer technology) and new types of collaborative partnerships and sources of revenue. At the societal level the communicative infrastructure for governance is being altered, including the ways in which media systems are able to sustain a democratic public sphere. With the growing role of social network media and on-demand services, the existing rationalities for public service media are increasingly being tested. Disruption as a socio-economic phenomenon therefore raises questions that are not limited to the media industry: How is the global context and push towards neoliberal policies affecting national political governance of media systems both ideologically and in practice?

Northern Light calls for papers exploring how disruption of the media infrastructure relates to transformation both within media industries and in a wider societal context. Research topics may include but are not restricted to:

  • Changes in media business models and challenges for legacy news media and public service media.
  • Development of push and pull models of media content distribution
  • Media content production for on-demand audiences and users
  • Emerging strategic alliances and collaborations in distribution and/or content production
  • Global tech companies and their influence on disruption of global and national media markets
  • Datafication and the value of consumer intelligence; new forms of audience/user data gathering
  • Transforming advertising: the demise of mass media models of advertising, search based advertising models, etc.
  • The political economy of disruption: the interplay between globalization, neoliberal policies, and technology development
  • Changes of the media infrastructure and the implication for the performance of the public sphere

Considering the overall theme of this volume, all submissions must analytically or theoretically be committed to engage with the processes and effects of ‘disruption’.


Please send an extended abstract of 500-600 words to volume editors Associate Professor Kirsten Frandsen ( and Professor Stig Hjarvard (

Deadline for abstract submission: 15 March, 2018

Time Schedule

Notification to authors about acceptance: 15 April 2018

Final article submission:  25 August, 2018

Publication: Spring 2019

Peer review

The journal is using anonymous peer review of the final submission, two for each article. Initial acceptance of abstract to submit a full article does not guarantee publication. Final acceptance of an article is dependent on both the outcome of peer reviews and the editors’ decision.

About the journal

Northern Lights is a peer reviewed international journal dedicated to studies of media. The yearbook is a meeting place for Nordic, European and global perspectives on media. The editors stress the importance of interdisciplinary research and the journal focuses on the interplay between media and their cultural and social context. Media have emerged as important institutions of modern society at the same time as mobile and interactive media technologies become integrated into the fabric of the wider culture and society. The development of new social networks, changes in political communication and governance, and the changing relationship between art, culture, and commercial markets are important aspect of these new dynamics.

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