Editors Discuss "Media + Environment"

By Erin Pedersen, March 21, 2021
"We're exploding the terms 'Media' and 'Environment'" (Alenda Chang)

When the terms ‘media’ and ‘environment’ are used they are in the contexts of using media to communicate about the environment, but what happens when the terms are combined to study their relationship to each other?

Janet Walker and Alenda Chang are both Editors-in-Chief, alongside Adrian Ivakhiv, on the open-access journal Media + Environment

When Media + Environment was proposed to the University of California Press it was an “honor” to Walker and Chang because there was no journal that focused on the relationship between media and environment.

It is important for this type of journal to exist because, according to Chang, “there are millions of scholarly journals and academics is getting so specialized” that it is rare to combine both terms to study “the way media can actually rely on the environment in terms of natural resources and infrastructure”.

Environments themselves can be considered a form of media because media is the intervening of something through which another passes. This means that landscapes and human bodies can, in some ways, function like media. 

Media + Environment disrupts the stereotypical portrayal of both terms because it changes the perception of how people view media spaces.

For instance, you pay a parking meter with a credit card and do not give it a second thought, however, that parking meter is operated by a solar panel. A common action of paying a parking meter that is powered by energy produced from the environment is typically overlooked.

The disruptiveness present within Media + Environment fits with FLEFF’s disruption of global concepts and environments. Challenging ideas, engaging in discussions, and changing perspectives is what FLEFF strives for.

Having a festival that is 100% virtual allows for a global population to join in on discussions and panels that can change perspectives. Chang feels that “open accessibility is in line with our ethos of the journal, which is that we're open access and that's really important to us.” 

A virtual festival and an open-access journal both open accessibility for audience members who would not usually be able to attend an in-person event or afford to purchase extensive journals. 

For Walker, having a globally accessible festival excites her because “streaming in cyberspace means it can include audience members, such as my mother in Maine, and people from all around the world.” 

Hosting an international festival during a pandemic provides a sense of community during panels and discussions. Everyone is in the same predicament and gathering in one place to converse about new ideas brings a comfortability aspect that most festivals do not obtain.

Chang has an emotional connection to FLEFF because she used to attend Cornell University. For her, being able to access the festival on the other side of the country provides a sense of comfort. Walker believes “that connection you're talking about Alenda, makes an argument for the local and why it is nevertheless important to hold a festival in a particular place even as you want to branch out and include other kinds of audiences.”

Janet Walker and Alenda Chang will both be discussing more on their journal Media + Environment in the third week of FLEFF. If you are interested in learning more about their journal click here to register for the panel on Friday, April 9th from 5:00 - 6:30 pm.