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The 2020 Dallas Smythe Memorial Lecture goes online

March 18, 2020
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By Paige Smith & Rachel Wong

The Dallas Smythe Memorial Lecture has honoured critical scholars in the field of political economy of communications since 1993. Organized by SFU’s School of Communication, the lecture brings together faculty, students, and the broader community to honour the work and research of Dallas Smythe, who taught at SFU from 1976 until he passed away in 1992.

Smythe is recognized as a leading scholar of communication processes as well as a founding figure in the political economy of communication. He is known for his research on mass media and telecommunications, and how this research could be used to support public policies in support of those disenfranchised. One of his most influential ideas was the ‘audience-commodity,’ which proposed that the economic relationship which is the primary driver of media as an industry is one whereby audiences are sold to advertisers, opposed to the previous political economic approaches to media which focused upon meanings, messages and information as the central commodity.1

In memory of Dallas Smythe and his research and ideas, this year we will discuss the recent social movement in Hong Kong in relation to its leaderless mode of mobilization via use of digital media. Dr. Jack Qiu, professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, will deliver the lecture. He will explore the digital social movement by examining its features, limitations and implications.

Jack Qiu’s research interests include information & communication technologies, social class, globalization, and Chinese society. He teaches about global and Chinese communication, new media and social change.

Given the unprecedented circumstances that occurred this year, the lecture was delivered as a video lecture. On the evening of March 18, folks joined Dr. Qiu and Enda Brophy from SFU’s School of Communication for a Live Q&A via Zoom.

Watch Dr. Qiu’s lecture here:

A screen capture of folks participating in the Q&A via Zoom, including our Communications Coordinator, Rachel! Dr. Jack Qiu is in the first box on the top row, in the left corner.

Jack Linchuan Qiu is a Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he directs the Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research (C-Centre) and co-directs the Centre for Social Innovation Studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies.


1. “The Audience Commodity,” Media Studies 101 ~ A Creative Commons Textbook, accessed March 5, 2020.

Special thanks to Dr. Jack Qiu for his flexibility in helping us present this lecture from afar and to Enda Brophy, Brenda Baldwin, Chris Jeschelnik, Emma Keeler-Dugas, and Alex Klinke from the School of Communication for their hard work and help!

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