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Fisher, Asst. Prof. Caroline

Caroline Fisher

Communication & Media
Faculty of Arts & Design
Bldg, Floor & Room: 9B40
Telephone: (02) 6201 2545


Dr Caroline Fisher is an Assistant Professor in journalism at the University of Canberra. She is a member of the News & Media Research Centre and co-author of the annual Digital News Report-Australia. Caroline is the recipient of the 2018 Anne Dunn Scholar Award and the 2017 Early Career Researcher Excellence Award in Humanities and the Creative Arts. In 2014 and 2017 Caroline was the recipient of a Vice Chancellor’s Award for excellence in teaching.

Caroline Fisher began teaching and researching in journalism and political communication at UC in 2014. In 2017 she took on the role of course convenor of the journalism programme. Caroline completed her PhD in 2014 which examined the career transition between journalism and parliamentary media advising. Prior to academia she was a reporter, presenter and producer for ABC News and Radio National; and, spent three years as a ministerial media adviser to Anna Bligh in the Queensland government.

Research Interests

  • Trust in news media

Public trust in the news media has been on a decline and is at record lows. Concerns about the veracity of news have been heightened with revelations of ‘fake news’ during the recent US presidential election. Dr Fisher is examining trends in public trust in news media as part of the Reuters Digital News Report annual survey produced in Australia by the News Media Research Centre at UC.

  • Journalist-source relations in the digital era

The relationship between journalists and their sources is central to journalism practice. Historically, the relationship between journalists and sources has been predominantly characterised as interdependent, oscillating between co-operation and conflict over the control of information. However, the arrival of digital publishing platforms has significantly disrupted this mutually dependent exchange.  It has blurred the boundaries between the two roles and released sources from their traditional reliance on journalists to disseminate their messages to citizens. Using digital platforms, sources have the option to by-pass the traditional media and communicate directly with the public if it meets their strategic communication goals. Depending on whether the source is trying to reach a specific audience via social media or a wider audience via mass media he or she can ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of a traditional journalist –source relationship. The shift in power between reporters and sources poses a challenge to the authority and control of journalists who have lost their stranglehold over the means of publication. Dr Fisher is examining this change and its impact on issues of accountability, scrutiny and questions about the ongoing relevance of journalism’s ‘fourth estate’ role in democracy.

  • Disclosure and transparency in journalism

Transparency is the new buzzword in sections of the journalism community and has been hailed as one of the solutions to curbing falling levels of public trust in journalism. Dr Fisher is examining the attitudes of politicians, journalists and news editors about the disclosure of reporters’ personal interests, particularly in relation to whether they had previously worked for a politician. Her work reveals a disconnection between the ideal of disclosure and the reality of editorial decision making.

Areas of Teaching

Dr Caroline Fisher teaches in political communication and journalism. Units include:

  • Introduction to Journalism - 5565
  • Mobile Reporting - 9923
  • Audio journalism – 9019
  • Video journalism - 9036
  • Introduction to Political Communication - 9024

She is currently supervising research students in the following areas:

  • Public broadcasting in the digital era.
  • Political campaigning

Potential supervision areas

  • Trust in news media
  • Journalist – source relations
  • Social media use by politicians
  • Political Public Relations
  • Changing boundaries of journalism
  • Partisanship and advocacy in journalism
  • Conflict of interest and transparency in journalism

Qualifications Obtained

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Communication, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra, 2014.  
  • Master of Arts (Communication - Journalism) with Distinction. Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW, 1995.
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of New South Wales, 1992. 

Recent Publications

Book Chapters

Peer reviewed journal articles

  • Fisher, C., Cullotty, E., Lee, J., and Park, S. (in press) Regaining Control: Citizens who follow politicians on social media and their perceptions of journalism, Digital Journalism, doi/10.1080/21670811.2018.1519375.
  • Fisher, C. (2018) News Sources and Journalist/Source Interaction, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Published August, 31.  DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.013.849.
  • Fuller, G., Jolly, A. & Fisher, C. (2018) Malcolm Turnbull’s conversational career on Twitter: the case of Australian Prime Minister and the NBN, Media International Australia, May special issue, 167 (1).
  • Fisher, C., Marshall, D., McCallum, K. (2018) Bypassing the press gallery – from Howard to Hanson, Media International Australia, May special issue, 167 (1).
  • Fisher, C. (2016). The trouble with ‘trust’ in news media, Communication Research and Practice, Vol 2 (4) pp451-465.
  • Fisher C. (2017) “True Believer,” “Legal Advocate,” or “Committed Expert” Parliamentary Media Advising and Practitioner Conceptions of Partisanship. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 94: 883-900.
  • Fisher, C. (2017) From press secretary to political reporter: editors' and politicians' perceptions of partisanship and professionalism, Australian Journalism Review, 39 (1) pp. 99-110.
  • Fisher, C. (2016) The disclosure disconnect: ideals of transparency and editorial reality. Australian Journalism Review, 38 (2) pp. 132 – 141.
  • Fisher, C. (2016) The Advocacy continuum: toward a theory of advocacy in journalism, Journalism. Vol. 17(6) 711–726. DOI: 10.1177/1464884915582311
  • Fisher, C. (2016) Managing Conflict of Interest: Shifting between political PR and journalism. Journalism Practice, 10(3), 373-386. doi:10.1080/17512786.2015.1027786
  • Fisher, C. (2016) TEN SHADES OF TRUTH: A study of Australian Journalists' shift to Political PR Article reference, Public Relations Review, 42 (4) pp. 665-672
  • Fisher, C. (2015) Re-Assessing the "Public's Right to Know" - The Shift from Journalism to Political PR, Journalism Studies. Published online 10 August 2015. DOI: 10.1080/1461670X.2015.1065196
  • Fisher, C. (2015) The disclosure dilemma: Returning to journalism after political media advising. Communication Research and Practice, 1(1), pp. 58-70. Doi:10.1080/22041451.2015.1042425
  • Fisher, C. (2014) 'Watchdog' to 'spin-doctor': challenges and benefits, Australian Journalism Review, 36 (2), 145-156.

Peer reviewed conference papers

Encyclopedic entries

  • Fisher, C. (2018). News Sources and Journalist/Source Interaction. In Oxford Encyclopedia of Communication (Journalism Studies). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.013.849
  • Fisher, C. (in press). Conflict of Interest in Journalism. In The International Encyclopedia of Journalism Studies.


  • Fisher, C (2017). Essay: Bypassing the news media: Politicians and Public Regaining Control? Digital News Report: Ireland 2017.
  • Fisher, C. (2016). Essay: 'Trust' in what exactly? Digital News Report: Australia 2016, 66-69. Retrieved from doi:10.4225/50/5754F7090A5C5


  • Park, S., Fisher, C., Fuller, G., Lee, J. (2018) Digital News Report: Australia 2018
  • Watkins, J., Lee, J., Park, S., Papandrea, F., Fuller, G., Fisher, C., Blood, W. (2017) Digital News Report: Australia 2017.
  • Watkins, J., Park, S., Blood, W., Deas, M., Dunne Breen, M., Fisher, C., Fuller, G., Lee, J. Y., Papandrea, F., Ricketson, M. (2016) Digital News Report: Australia 2016 News & Media Research Centre, Canberra.

Book reviews

  • Fisher, C. (2016) Book Review: Bruns, A., Enli, G., Skogerbø, E., Larsson, A. L., & Christensen, C. (Eds.). (2016). The Routledge companion to social media and politics. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1138860766; Australian Journalism Review, 38 (1) 137-139.
  • Fisher, C. (2015) Book review: Journalism & PR: Unpacking 'Spin', Stereotypes, and Media Myths. Global Media Journal – Australian ed9 (1).

PhD thesis

  • Fisher, C. (2014) 'watchdog' to 'spin-doctor' : An examination of the transition from journalist to parliamentary media adviser and back again. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Canberra.

Media and engagement



  • Journalism, Theory, Practice and Criticism
  • International Journal of Press Politics
  • Journalism Studies
  • Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
  • Communication Research & Practice
  • Australia and New Zealand Communication Association annual conference (ANZCA)
  • Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia annual conference (JERAA)
  • Routledge book proposals


  • 2018: Anne Dunn Scholar Award. $3000.00 prize jointly presented by the Australia New Zealand Communication Association and the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia for excellence in communication and journalism research. Announced 28th June 2018.
  • 2018: Top Faculty Paper of International Communication Association's Journalism Studies Division (3rd place): Fisher, Lee & Cullotty (2018) Regaining control: Citizens who follow politicians on social media - a six country comparison presented at the ICA annual conference in Prague on May 27th, 2018.
  • 2017: Early Career Researcher Excellence in Humanities and Creative Arts. University of Canberra Research Excellence Awards 2017, presented on 2nd November 2017.
  • 2017: University of Canberra Teaching Excellence Award for Programs that Enhance Learning: Media & Communication Team:  Dr Glen Fuller, Dr Caroline Fisher (with Professor Matthew Ricketson).
  • 2014: Vice Chancellor's Excellence Awards  – Unit Satisfaction Survey Recognition Award (FAD).
  • 2013: Recipient of the JEAA Postgraduate Scholarship Award.
  • 2010: Recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award.


  • 2017: ‘Trust and Branding Web Crawler Research’. $20,414.00 grant from the Australian Communication & Media Authority (ACMA), led by Assoc. Professor Sora Park.
  • 2017: "By-passing the news media" $10,000 UC Early Career Academic Research Development grant. (Competitive internal)
  • 2015: Excellence in Journalism research grant ($6000.00) from Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA). Title: ‘Press secretary to press gallery: managing conflict of interest and perceptions of partisanship' (Competitive external)

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