At the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication of Sofia University "St. Communication and Media of the XXI Century. Over two days, 82 participants from 16 universities and institutions at home and abroad participated in panels in English and Bulgarian.
The plenary panel was addressed by Prof. Dr. Veselina Valkanova, Dean of the Faculty of Journalism, Mr. Milen Mitev - Director General of the Bulgarian National Radio, Ms. Nadia Vissers, Director of the European Journalism Training Association (EJTA).
In her speech, the Dean of the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, Prof. Dr. Veselina Valkanova, expressed her satisfaction with the participation of leading researchers, scholars, teachers, and practitioners in the field of media and communication, as well as with the impressive scientific program of the conference on key topics in the development of media, communication and journalism education in the 21st century. Prof. Valkanova noted that 2022 is an anniversary year for the academic community of FJMC, for the professional college, as the university education in journalism in Bulgaria turns 70 years old.
Prof. Valkankova said that the jubilee of the university is celebrated. Valkanova stressed that at the beginning of the 21st century, educational institutions, especially universities, are facing a number of social challenges, undergoing structural and educational transformations related to the radical changes in the environment and the need for significant transformations of educational processes, academic programs, and teaching approaches, also related to the need for digitalization. The university system is striving to overcome this situation in order to be competitive and to continue to provide high-quality education in the context of digital transformation and technological innovation. Journalism education in itself combines academic knowledge with practical skills needed for the professional realization of graduating students.
In the opening address, Prof. Valkanova stressed that the communication environment not only in Bulgaria but also worldwide is undergoing radical changes. Currently, the war in Ukraine is adding challenges and difficulties to the profession of journalism. It is in such times of crisis that the great need for quality journalism and quality journalism education as a counterbalance to fake news and misinformation becomes apparent.
Ms. Nadia Vissers congratulated the faculty leadership and the students and highlighted how impressive everything was done in the past years has been. She touched upon the topic of the development of journalism and the importance of upholding its principles in her speech. Ms. Vissers pointed out that Sofia University is a very loyal and supportive member of the European Journalism Education Association, congratulated the faculty, and pointed out that it performs at a high level internationally. She stressed the importance of training future students in journalism and media culture to successfully deal with the challenges we face today. In conclusion, Ms. Nadia Vissers wished the faculty many more successes and the participants a constructive and inspiring conference.
Mr. Milen Mitev also congratulated the attendees and expressed his delight to have the opportunity to participate in such a significant event over the next two days. He spoke about the high professional standards, freedom of speech, and education of the students. Mitev stressed that freedom is not only the ability to speak but also the right to know. He concluded by wishing the students to always be curious and critical.
The plenary session of the conference was attended by Prof. Milko Petrov, Ph.D., a renowned expert and specialist in the field of foreign journalism and its development in the USA and Europe, a leading lecturer and creator of courses in foreign journalism, image building, history and theory of journalism and public relations, international communication; Assoc. Dr. Erika Jauniene and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Maria Stonkiene from the University of Vilnius, Lithuania, and Prof. Dr. Raluca Radu from the University of Bucharest, Romania - academic partners of the anniversary conference. The panel concluded with a presentation of a study by Prof. Dr. Karoline Roth-Ebner and Dr. Christian Oggolder from the University of Klagenfurt, Austria, analyzing the digital literacy of older adults after the start of the Kovid-19 pandemic. The topic of media literacy in the context of increased use of different online platforms was present in each of the plenary speeches, showing the relevance of the issue both for everyday life in society and as an object of research interest.
The event continued with the presentation of papers and discussions in the different panels: 'Transformations of Media Literacy', 'Communication and Digital Turn', 'Cultural and Psychological Particularities in the Communicative Process', 'Journalism and War - Discursive Practices and Educational Challenges', 'Media Professional Practice and Education: Contemporary Debates", "Contemporary Aspects of the Theory of Media and Communication", "Political and Ethical Dimension of the Freedom of Speech", "Changes in the Roles of Social Media and Future Perspectives of Media", "Communication as an Industry", "Transformational Effects in the Field of Mass Communication in Times of Crisis".
Media literacy was also the focus of the first panel of the conference, "Transformations of Media Literacy". Participants presented many different dimensions of the issue in their presentations, revealing the complexity and multi-layered nature of media literacy. The moderator, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Svetlozar Kirillov chose to open the panel by focusing on an extremely topical issue for the whole society: the propaganda clash between Russia and Ukraine after the beginning of hostilities, focusing on the discussions whether Ukrainians have sympathy for Nazism, to what extent the rights of the Russian-speaking residents of Donbas have been violated. The digital transformation of media literacy was also analyzed through several specific case studies: the challenges to the competencies of the information society in the case of the National Library of Lithuania (presentation by Dr. Saule Jakubauskiene from Vilnius University), the impact of the Kovid-19 pandemic on Bulgarian book publishing (presentation by Dr. Georgi Aleksandrov), the typology of the most commonly used audio-visual formats in video games (presentation by Dr. Nikolay Kolev). Prof. as. Dr. Nikola Vangelov examined the development of several theories on the essence of the term "advertising", reaching a new explanation summarizing the contemporary characteristics of advertising activity. The panel ended with a presentation by Ms. Anelia Dimova from the Ministry of e-Government, presenting a methodology for assessing the access of the Bulgarian population to the Internet.
The panel "Communication and Digital Turn" was moderated by the Dean of FJMC Prof. Dr. Veselina Valkanova, who presented her paper on the trends and perspectives of online media design. Asst. Dr. Maya Stoyanova chose to focus on the challenges and the role of new technologies in media design education in higher education institutions. Ph.D. students Yotka Pancheva and Iveta Yordanova continued the discussion of the specifics of visual communication in the conditions of convergence and new media in their papers. Assoc. Prof. Simeon Vassilev argued for the need of a new media culture to meet the challenges to the media ecosystem and to journalism as part of the public sphere. The new technologies were also discussed in the report of As. Dr. Ivan Valchanov from UNWE, introduced the audience to the role of online information search engines for journalism.
Media and communications and their peculiarities in different countries around the world were the unifying themes of the presentations in the panel "Cultural and Psychological Particularities of the Communicative Process" moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Diana Petkova. Here were presented the views of researchers from the United States (prof. Dr. Gini Whitehouse from Eastern Kentucky University chose to focus on the moral specificities of journalism and PR education), Hungary (Dr. Mihaly Gal spoke about the need for more serious research on the relationship between political bias, access to information and radicalization, presenting four models of interaction between them), Romania (Dr. Manuela Preoteasa presented the results of an international project on fact-checking as a form of combating misinformation). Disinformation is at the center of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ralitsa Kovacheva's report, as she chose to analyze the channels of its dissemination during crises: the Kovid-19 and the war in Ukraine. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Desislava Sotirova, on the other hand, seeks answers to the questions of whether foreign countries try to interfere in the editorial policy of the media in the Western Balkan countries and how this interference is carried out. Comparing the national media systems in Japan, China and India in a geopolitical context, Ph.D. student Ivelina Vatova tried to determine which are the key factors for the development of media in a given country: whether it is the level of economic development, the presence or absence of national security, freedom of speech. Dr. Tsvetelina Dzhambazova used the domestic violence case between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard to illustrate the way in which discussion generated on social media manages to displace coverage of nationally significant issues in traditional media.
The war in Ukraine and its various dimensions was naturally one of the leading topics during the conference, with a special panel dedicated to it - "Journalism and War - Discursive Practices and Educational Challenges", moderated by Associate Professor Svetlana Stankova. Assoc. Stankova started the discussion with her research on the image of war in Ukraine in the world media. Doctoral student Olga Kolar continued with the ways in which the conflict has been covered in the Republic of Moldova, trying to give suggestions on how the misinformation in news broadcasts related to the war could be put to an end. As. Dr. Lora Simeonova presented the results of a survey among 58 students in the Journalism, Public Relations, and Book Publishing majors at FJMC, according to which discussions during university classes are an important "compass" in forming students' opinions about what is happening on the front between Russia and Ukraine. Doctoral student Nadelina Aneva chose Nova Television's morning block "Hello, Bulgaria" to trace how metaphor played a role in the ideological discourse during the first 100 days of the conflict, while doctoral student Desislava Frantsova addressed the topic through the prism of sports journalism. Different aspects of the contemporary political and economic crises are the focus of the reports of PhD students Zarina Vassileva and Vyara Ivanova.
The second day of the jubilee conference started with a panel dedicated to the education and practice of communication studies: 'Media Professional Practice and Education: Contemporary Debates' moderated by Prof. Dr. Nikolay Mikhailov. Prof. Dr. Greta Dermendzhieva offered a typology of forms of learning, illustrating the evolution of techniques, methods, and means of learning and teaching, and Prof. D. Prof. Dobrinka Peycheva focused on the dynamics of group communication in a digital environment. Assoc. Prof. Stefan Serezliev presented a paper exploring and conceptualizing new fields of integration between different perspectives and challenges for the management of integrated brand communications in the field of academic theory, professional practice, and higher education. Prof. Dr. Elena Tarasheva from NBU traced the concepts and linguistic tools that can be taught through media, which corresponds with the analysis of Prof. Ph. Ivanka Mavrodieva on the intersections and challenges of the relationship between public speech and media. Principal as. Dr. Maya Vassileva focuses on the results of student attempts to produce a text on the different stages in the negotiations to reach a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine. Ph.D. student Atanas Lozanov attempted an objective and unbiased comparative analysis between the conventional system of education at all levels and upgraded models relying on the tools and devices of high technology in the face of augmented and virtual reality.
The panel "Contemporary Aspects of the Theory of Media and Communication", moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Orlin Spasov brings together papers on different topics, which in their essence present essential aspects of media and communication theory. Assoc. Spasov drew attention to the concept of media pluralism, its scope, and its various uses. Prof. Dr. Totka Monova talked about the influence of new media on genre transformations and reflexive textual forms (a new model of contemporary journalism). In successive papers, Dr. Nadejda Miteva, Dr. Neli Velinova, and Dr. Laura Metanova address the transformations and evolutionary dynamics of journalism in Bulgaria. The topic of Ph.D. student Eleana Gencheva traces the influence of the media on the formation of public opinion about public figures from the political scene in Bulgaria and around the world. As. Dr. Stylia-Felissi Paunova presents the results of a sociometric analysis of students in Bulgaria in 2022, and the report of Ph.D. student Blagovest Iliev is on the challenges facing the regional television teams in Stara Zagora.
Associate Professor Maria Popova moderates the panel "Political and Ethical Dimension of the Freedom of Speech". It featured her research observing the changes taking place in the nature of journalism brought about by the mixing of the practice of professional and citizen journalists, the ability of media products to be disseminated through a variety of media and digital channels, and the commitment of audiences to use them through multiple technological means. About the research of misinformation and propaganda spoke as. Dr. Aneta Milkova. The paper by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jana Popova summarizes the results of the research on the perceptions of pluralism of 5 groups between 2000-2020: journalists (in private and public television), members of the Council for Electronic Media, media researchers, politicians from the media committees in the National Assembly and authors of operational criticism of the media in the periodical press. The study of the head as. Dr. Theodora Georgieva tracked how political crises in the legislature are reported in the media, focusing on the cases of MPs who have abandoned their parliamentary group. Prof. Ruslana Margova from the GATE Institute for Big Data at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" attempts to systematize the terms used and unify the concepts related to fake news. Ph.D. student Nikolay Chadarov examined the communicative aspects of the modern military oath, and as. Dilyana Kirkovska - digital radio, its legal aspects, and its market regulation in Bulgaria.
Social media was the leading topic of the papers included in the panel "Changes in the Roles of Social Media and Future Perspectives of Media", moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Simeon Vassilev. Prof. Dr. Ivo Draganov raised the issue of the missing audiovisual face of the EU, while Dr. Valery Marinov examined the place of mobile journalism in the emerging new global framework for media development, such as the vision of a "New Deal" in journalism. Dr. Justine Toms' topic was on new media formats, calling them "online audio and video for quick consumption". Ph.D. student Ventsislav Vassilev's research examines Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) software in Bulgarian and its practical application in media productions for deciphering live reporter inclusions for publication on media websites. Ph.D. student Alexandra Djankova uses the social network LinkedIn as an example of modern ways to build corporate and personal brands. Doctoral students Ivelina Georgieva, Svetozara Velichkova, and Nina Stoilova in separate papers focused on the influence of social media in Bulgaria and its importance for communication channels in the 21st century.
"Communication as an Industry" was the next panel, moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mila Serafimova. The report of Assoc. Serafimova was dedicated to the role and specifics of PR in situations of global crisis explored and compared communications during COVID-19 and the next challenges such as the war in Ukraine and threats of energy, food, and economic crises. As. Dr. Diana Andreeva-Popjordanova presented the new results of a joint study with Sofia Municipality - Sofia - City of Creative Economy, in the part on the economic contribution of the media /television and radio market, new media and print media/, which was carried out within the period 2008-2022. Dr. Miroslava Tsenkova outlined the principles by which companies and their users share information and communicate with each other on the web while pointing out the importance of effective management of PR activities of businesses and the advantages and peculiarities of communication in a digital environment. Assoc. Prof. Yordan Karapentchev typified UI copywriting texts according to their dominant function. Dr. Teodora Petkova continued the topic and presented a paper on the conceptualization of the content of digital marketing communications on the web as semantic capital. In the panel, different aspects of business communication during the crisis caused by the Kovid-19 pandemic were addressed in turn by FJMC Ph.D. students Bogomila Koleva, Ina Kandeva, and Lyubomir Palev.
The conference ended with a panel on "Transformational Effects in the Field of Mass Communication in Times of Crisis" moderated by Prof. Dr. Efrem Efremov. VTU researcher Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ivo Indzhov started the discussion with the results of content analysis of newspaper publications in the period 1916 - 2021. Prof. Dr. Teodora Petrova outlined in her paper the importance and role of audiovisual materials used in campaigns and in strategic communications of institutions and organizations in the field of health care. In a joint presentation, Prof. Dr. Liliya Raicheva and Dr. Marian Tomov analyzed the media preferences of families, taking into account characteristics such as age and educational specificities of respondents in an empirical study. There were also speeches by the Ph.D. students Kiril Yanev, Valentina Marinova, and Nedelina Petkova. The unifying theme of all the papers was the transformations in different types of media brought about by crisis situations.