Media, Society and the Politics of Change

Program Leader: Associate Professor Margaret Simons

The cumulative impact of technological change and its impact on traditional business models represents a fundamental structural change in the way in which the information needs of societies are served. In western societies, these changes are a worrying alteration of the operation of democratic institutions. In the non-democratic societies of our region, governments and media practitioners are engaged in new accommodations with the voice of citizens on social media. Accompanying this, social media, apps and start-up media companies are allowing a wider range of voices to be heard. This is by itself a significant change in news media ecologies and the societies in which they occur.

The aim of Media, Society and the Politics of Change is to produce research that is industry relevant and fosters/informs public debates about aspects of these changes, identifying threats and opportunities in the impact of technology. We engage in a concentrated and integrated collaborative study of the impact of media, including journalistic practices, on social change, in the context of profound technological transformation.

The program draws on the School of Media, Film and Journalism’s existing strengths in practice-based research, leveraging the understandings, industry contacts and professional histories of our practitioner researchers. Outputs include traditional scholarly work plus non-traditional research outputs (NTRO) in journalism practice that are triggered by and inform scholarly outputs. NTROs will include both text-based and audio-visual outcomes. We aim to break down the arid divides between media scholars and media practitioners, building collaborations that benefit from the perspectives of both.

A characteristic of much media scholarship is the study of media outputs divorced from an understanding of the processes and contexts within which they arise. Existing scholarship within the School acts as a corrective to this, with recent research shedding light on, for example, the history of media photography; the appropriate role and future for public broadcasting; the use of “fixers” by foreign correspondents; the impact of government regulation and social media on the daily work of journalists in China; evolving forms of audio journalism and podcast networks; the processes behind the Australian media’s reporting of Violence Against Women; political reporting and governance; and regulation of the media and cultural industries.

Key areas of research focus include:

  • Changes in media practice and media texts, particularly those brought about by technology, and the impact of these on societies in our region;
  • International journalism and changing practices;
  • Media regulation and governance, including the role, history and future of Australia’s public, commercial and independent broadcasters; and
  • Political and court reporting.

Grants

Australia Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project:

  • Fay Anderson (with Michael Gawenda, Sally Young and Kate Darian-Smith), A History of Press Photography, 2012-2015 and concluding 2018

Non-ARC:

  • Stephanie Brookes, The impact of new sources of political news on legacy election coverage, JERAA-funded, finishing 2018
  • Mia Lindgren and Monika Djerf-Pierre Storytelling and public understanding of antibiotic Resistance, Gothenberg University-funded)

Community and Industry Engagement

Akane Kanai

  • Newcastle’s Women’s Alliance: Facilitated connections with key contacts in some locally based feminist groups for pilot project on digital feminisms funded by University of Newcastle, 2016
  • Public Lecture about the project and Dr Kanai’s research as part of the ‘Outspoken’ public seminar series organised by the Alliance assisted by funding from the Newcastle City Council

Tony Moore

  • Roar Film (Tasmania), Tile Films (Dublin), People’s History Museum (Manchester), NSW Teachers Federation, Trades Union Congress (UK), Bentham Project- University College London; Australian Studies Centre, University College Dublin:
  • Conviction Politics: a digital investigation of the struggle for Australian democracy: ARC Linkage Project in development for 2018 submission. Documentary and transmedia histories of democracy with focus on eighteenth and nineteenth century radical public sphere and media activists