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Research Projects

N&MRC conducts breakthrough research with industry, government and community partners, locally and internationally. Download our 2019 Annual Report for more information on our current partnerships and collaborations.

Please complete our online briefing request form to have a member of the N&MRC present on our research.

State of the News Media in Asia

Caroline Fisher, Sora Park, Jee Young Lee, Kerry McCallum

This investigation of news and media in Asia will provide journalists, policymakers and communication professionals with valuable information and ideas about audiences, news infrastructures, and policy frameworks. We have designed a comprehensive program of work to address an urgent need for analysis of the state of the media industries in Asia. This will be the first multi-site comparative
study of news media industries, policy frameworks and news consumption in the Asian region. Its innovative research design is underpinned by robust, proven and independent comparative analysis methodologies into digital media consumption that can yield real impact for journalism, industry and government.

Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas Funded Project

Health and Misinformation in Social Media

Mathieu O'Neil, Irfan Khan, Kate Holland, Xiaolan Cai

This project explores the spread of health misinformation and disinformation across online social networks. Using a combination of advanced data harvesting techniques and qualitative interviews, the project will focus in a first stage on how health professionals interact with COVID-19 rumours prevalent in major social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube. The findings of this research are expected to assist in developing strategies to combat COVID 19 misinformation within the Australian healthcare context.

This project was supported by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Strategic Funds, University of Canberra.

Social Media: connecting and sharing in a bushfire crisis

Jee Young Lee, Susan Atkinson, Kerry McCallum, Chris Kim

Building on a pilot study[1] in early 2020 which investigated official communication from the ACT Emergency Services Agency and the NSW Rural Fire Service using Facebook during the Orroral Valley Bushfire emergency, this project aims to better understand social media use during emergencies to better inform public decision making. This study will survey social media users in the ACT and surrounding areas of NSW over the summer months to collect data around what kind of information they seek, where they go to look for it, and how they make decisions in a crisis.

[1] Atkinson, S., Kim, C., & Lee, J. (in press). ‘Facebook as an official communication channel in a crisis’, Australian Journal of Emergency Management, Vol. 36 No. 1 January 2021

Covering COVID-19

David Nolan, Sora Park, Caroline Fisher, Kerry McCallum, Glen Fuller

This study will capture how the COVID-19 was reported, how that changed over the course of the pandemic, and how journalists perceived and performed their roles during the outbreak.

This Report was supported by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Strategic Funds, University of Canberra.

Amplifying Indigenous News: A digital intervention

David Nolan, Kerry McCallum, Peter Radoll, Lisa Waller, Scott Wright, Luke Pearson (IndigenousX), Lorena Allam (The Guardian)

This project aims to road-test, document and analyse an innovative strategy for amplifying Indigenous voices in news media. The project will deploy and assess the impact of a new digital application designed to enable access to a diverse range of Indigenous voices, stories and agendas. The anticipated outcomes will assist the project’s industry partners to meet their strategic goals of increasing the level of Indigenous media representation in Australia, and consolidate their roles as leading outlets for Indigenous content and coverage.

ARC Funded Project: 4 October 2019 to 3 October 2022

Breaking silences: Media and the Child Abuse Royal Commission

Kerry McCallum, Lisa Waller, Kristy Hess, Tanja Dreher, Eli Skogerbø

This project aims to analyse the role of media, journalism and social media activism in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2013-17) (RCIRCSA). By focusing on the nexus between media and commissions of inquiry in the digital era, the project will investigate the impacts of a rapidly changing media environment on this national ‘listening’ exercise. Through case studies the project will analyse the role of a transitioning local, national and social media in triggering, reporting on and keeping alive the findings of the royal commission.

ARC Funded Project: 5 August 2019 to 4 August 2022

Safe online together: an integrated approach to navigating the risks and opportunities of digital media for families and young people

Catherine Page Jeffery, Yoonmo Sang, Kerry McCallum, Susan Atkinson

Safe Online Together aims to develop and deliver a series of evidence-based, innovative workshops and online resources to provide families with school-aged children with the skills to balance the risks and opportunities of digital technologies and reduce family conflict around technology use.  By training young people to deliver the programs to parents and children as a family unit, the project aims to promote intergenerational knowledge and understanding, facilitate discussion about managing online risks, and develop a set of tailored family protocols for digital technology use amongst families.

eSafety Commissioner Funded Project: 1 October 2020 to 17 February 2022

Pedalling for change: Cultural geography for traffic congestion innovation

Gordon Waitt, Teresa Lea, Ian Buchanan, Glen Fuller

This project aims to offer new knowledge about why commuter cycling has failed to increase at a time when leisure cycling grows exponentially. The project seeks to provide evidence about what cycling enables people to achieve through analysis of a database of media discourses, policies and the experiences of cyclists. Expected outcomes include an enhanced understanding of cycling as response to congestion and improved strategies for increasing purposeful cycling in cities including moving the focus from cycling participation rates to cultures of cycling.

ARC Funded Project: 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2021

Fake but not Fatal: Optimal Social Media Regulation in the Era of Fake News

Benedict Sheehy, Yoonmo Sang, Sujin Choi, Bruce Arnold, Jaejin Lee

To develop a viable South Korea-specific strategic policy response to address harms attributable to fake news on digital platforms (particularly social media) while deepening appropriate freedom of press and freedom of speech rights in environments where traditional media are of decreasing importance.

Korea Foundation Funded Project: 1 June 2020 to 30 November 2021

Framing and sharing news on social media

Sora Park, Caroline Fisher, Michael Jensen, Glen Fuller, Jee Young Lee, Yoonmo Sang

In the digital environment, news consumers are accessing news sources directly by ‘following’ organisations and individuals on social media, bypassing the news media. Consumers also constantly create, co-create and distribute information and news via social media platforms by using the interactive functions afforded by the platforms. The main focus of this project is to examine how these new behaviour are affecting the news ecosystem in Australia. We investigate how Facebook users respond to different types of information by interacting with the information that is shared within their Facebook network. We examine what types of news and information are widely shared and how they are framed by the person who shared the information. It also examines the responses to the sharing activity through likes and comments and the shape of diffusion networks. The project has three aims: identify distinct temporalities between categories of news and non-news platforms, analyse differences in interactions with news and non-news URLs and domains, and investigate polarisation in news and its implications for sharing practices.

Social Science Research Council Funded Project: 10 January 2020 to 9 January 2021

Digital media and women in West Papuan tribal life

Jee Young Lee, Sora Park

The research project will focus on the impact digital media has on West Papuan tribal life - particularly in respect to women. For example, 'Sugar Daddy Apps' on mobile phone has potential to disrupt tribal norms. It will be an unique pilot study which has potential to garner interest from other Melanesian regions (PNG, Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands).

Geoff Hartwig Funded Project: 1 October 2018 to 31 December 2020

Sharing information on WeChat and WhatsApp: Generational and cultural differences among Chinese and Australian messaging app users

Jee Young Lee, Sora Park, Sun Ping, Chen He

With the rapid uptake of digital platforms in both China and Australia, the ways of accessing and sharing information have become diverse. In particular, the uses of messaging apps to share information and news have grown, with news consumers taking part in group discussions, indicating a preference for more private and less confrontational space to share news and information. This study explores this emerging trend of information sharing and communication via messaging apps focusing on technological (WhatsApp vs WeChat), generational (Under 35 vs 35+) and socio-cultural (China vs Australia) factors by conducting a cross-cultural and generational study. Focus group interviews in both countries will be conducted to better understand information sharing activities on messaging apps. This study will provide a deeper understanding of how digital platforms are used by citizens to share and circulate information in different cultural contexts.

Academy of the Social Sciences Australia Funded Project: 1 February 2019 to 31 July 2020

Mapping the co-production of digital infrastructure by peer projects and firms

Mathieu O’Neil, Laure Muselli, Mahin Raissi, Stefano Zacchiroli

The long-term viability of innovation-rich peer projects managed by international teams of volunteers is a key concern in the digital space. But as the not-for-profit and commercial sectors increasingly collaborate to produce digital infrastructure, questions arise concerning how commercial firms’ rules, priorities, and institutional logics emerge in peer projects, and how communal logics seep into commercial firms. This project will combine computational data analytics, qualitative content analysis, and ethnography to explore related questions across F/OSS (Free/Open Source Software) projects, with a focus on waged labor.

Ford Foundation Funded Project: 1 January 2019 to 31 July 2020

Our Watch National Media Engagement Project: Media Analysis

Kate Holland

The aim of the research is to evaluate the implementation of professional training for practicing journalists on best-practice reporting of violence against women by undertaking pre-post training content analysis and critical discourse analysis to assess how the use of trained victim advocates affects reporting.

Legal Light Bulbs Funded Project: 15 July 2019 to 15 July 2020

'Shaping the national outlook: International news in the Australian press, 1900-1950'

Peter Putnis (sole Chief Investigator), ARC Discovery Grant, (2010-2012).

This project entails publication of a database recording the results of a sample-based content analysis of overseas news stories published in the Australian press between 1905 and 1950. The content analysis was undertaken as one component of the Australian Research Council-funded Discovery Project ‘Shaping the National Outlook: Overseas News in the Australian Press, 1901-1950’ (DP1096677, CI Peter Putnis). The content analysis provides snapshots of overseas news coverage in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald for the years 1905, 1920, 1935 and 1950. The dataset comprises 3928 news stories with substantial ‘overseas country’ news content coded according to range of variables including country, prominence, source, and main topic. The database is publicly available to interested researchers and students.

Media Literacy in Australia: A Qualitative Study

Sora Park, Jee Young Lee, Susan Atkinson, Jing Su

This report complements an earlier study based on a survey that was published in April 2021. We acknowledge that there are hard to reach groups that online surveys cannot fully represent. To address this, between January and July 2021, we carried out a series of interviews and focus group discussions with 22 participants across 17 organisations that serve communities with specific media literacy needs. The aim was to better understand the diversity of media literacy needs among Australians.

The report is part of the Adult Media Literacy in Australia research project, which was funded by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) in the United States.

Adult Media Literacy in Australia: Attitudes, Experiences and Needs

Tanya Notley, Simon Chambers, Sora Park, Michael Dezuanni

The report involves a collaboration between researchers at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology and the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra.

This Report was funded by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) in the United States.

Australian Perspectives on Misinformation

Mathieu O'Neil, Michael Jensen

The report brings together several sources of data. The background of the report is the results from two existing N&MRC reports: Digital News Report: Australia 2020 and COVID-19: Australian news and misinformation report, both of which tracked perceptions of misinformation in the Australian news consumers in 2020. The report next profiles two case studies: an analysis of campaigns by Russian Internet Research Agency “troll” accounts on in the Australian Twittersphere in the leadup to the 2016 Australian Federal election, and an interview with a young ABC Digital journalist about how misinformation affects her work practice. The report also features expert comments by three leading Australian journalists and researchers. Finally, the report relays a set of practical messages to help teachers and politicians communicate about information literacy, and outlines a series of hypothetical steps for how people might establish a fact-based common understanding with a conspiracy believer.

Podcast Trends and Issues in Australia and Beyond: Global Perspectives

Yoonmo Sang, Jee Young Lee, Sora Park

The aim of the report is to examine Australians’ podcast listening habits and trends in comparison with other countries and to identify key industry issues. Part 1 of the report is an analysis of data from 40 countries surveyed in the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020. In Part 2, nine expert contributions from around the globe representing Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania are presented.

This Report was supported by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Strategic Funds, University of Canberra.

News and Wellbeing: Older Generations and News Consumption

Caroline Fisher, Sora Park, Jee Young Lee, Kate Holland, Emma John

This report examines the connection between information and news consumption and the wellbeing of 562 older Australians living in the national capital, Canberra. It explores how their use and perceptions of news have changed over their lifetime and identifies some of the barriers and opportunities for older Canberrans to staying informed.

Council on the Ageing ACT Supported Project

Local News Consumers

Caroline Fisher, Sora Park, Jee Young Lee

This report is based on a survey of 2,038 regional news consumers. The aim of the study was to identify gaps in local news provision in regional parts of Australia and whether there is an appetite for new grassroots news offerings. The study finds the strongest desire for additional news services among residents of communities where news outlets have closed. In light of the ongoing decline of regional news services, accelerated by the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, this report points to the types of news people in information reduced communities are looking for and how much they are willing to pay for it.

Google News Initiative Funded Project:  1 November 2019 to 30 September 2020

Australian Regional journalists: What they need now and how they see the future

Caroline Fisher, Sora Park, Saffron Howden (Crinkling News), Jee Young Lee, Kieran McGuinness

While it has become easier to access quality news at the national and international level, the provision in quality local news is declining. The purpose of the project is to investigate the state of regional journalism in Australia, the work conditions of journalists in regional news outlets, their perception of the changing role of journalists in the community, their professional challenges and needs.

Google Funded Project: 15 August 2019 to 31 March 2020

Digital News Report: Australia 2020

Sora Park, Caroline Fisher, Jee Young Lee, Kieran McGuinness, Yoonmo Sang, Mathieu O'Neil, Michael Jensen, Kerry McCallum, Glen Fuller

The Digital News Report: Australia 2020  is the sixth in a series of annual reports which tracks changes in news consumption in Australia over time, particularly within the digital space. The Report is published by the University of Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre (N&MRC). The online survey was conducted in Australia between late January and early February 2020. The Australian survey forms part of a global study of 40 territories by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

This report was commissioned by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism & Ideas.

COVID-19: Australian news and misinformation

Sora Park, Caroline Fisher, Jee Young Lee, Kieran McGuinness

This report examines how Australians responded to a health crisis in the period shortly after social distancing measures were put in place by the government to stop the spread of coronavirus. We conducted a national online survey of 2,196 Australians aged 18 or above to ask questions about how they get information about COVID-19, how they understand and respond to the crisis, how concerned they are and what sources of information they find to be trustworthy.

This Report was supported by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Strategic Funds, University of Canberra.

Motivating ACT Youth Engagement Pilot

Kerry McCallum, Barbara Walsh, Prue Robson

This project will provide baseline evidence to the ACT Communication and Engagement Directorate on how young people 18-25 understand local government and what motivates local civic engagement. The project team will undertake a review of grey and academic literature, consult with the ACT Youth Advisory Council, and conduct focus groups through the ACT Government YourSay panel. A final report will provide the ACT Government with recommendations on the development of a youth civic engagement communication campaign.

ACT Government Funded Project: 1 September 2019 to 31 May 2020

News media literacy: What works and does it make a difference?

Caroline Fisher, Sora Park, Mathieu O'Neil

Commonwealth Department of Communications and Arts Funded Project: 30 June 2019 to 31 October 2019

Digital News Report: Australia 2019

The fifth annual Digital News Report: Australia is part of a global survey of digital news consumption in 38 countries by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

So what do you do?: tracking creative graduates in Australia and the UK's Creative and Cultural Industries

Scott Brook, Roberta Comunian, Alessandra Faggian, Jonathan Corcoran, Sarah Jewell, Sora Park, Jen Webb, Phil Lewis

This project brings together an international team of scholars from communication and cultural studies, labour market economics and cultural geography, in order to better understand the employment outcomes of creative graduates. It will draw on quantitative data, including longitudinal graduate destination surveys (GOS-L and LDLHE) and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, (HILDA) in order to understand creative graduate outcomes, and the significance of key variables for these outcomes, such as gender, geography and skills utilisation.

'Sensing, shaping, sharing: Imagining the body in a mediatized world'

Deborah Lupton (co-Chief Investigator), The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (2016-2018) with Halmstead University, Lund University, RMIT, Univerity of Helsinki.

'The prevalence of deficit metrics in Indigenous education and their impact on public discourse, policy and educational practice'

Kerry McCallum, UC Collaborative Indigenous Research Initiative Research Grant Scheme (2016-2018).

The digital health generation: the impact of healthy lifestyle technologies on young people's learning identities and health practices

Deborah Lupton (co-Chief Investigator), Wellcome Trust Grant (UK) (2016-2017) with University of Bath, University of Salford, UK.

'Linked data policy hub stage II: Urban and regional planning and communications'

Jerry Watkins (co-Chief Investigator), ARC Linkage Infrastructure Project (2016) with RMIT, Swinburne University, Sydney University and Melbourne University.

'Small technology, big data and the business of young people's health: an international investigation of the digitisation of school health and physical education'

Deborah Lupton (co-Chief Investigator), ARC Discovery Project (2015-2017) with Southern Cross University, Monash University and Northern Illinois University.

'Deficit Discourse and Indigenous Education: mapping the discursive environment, assessing impact, and changing the conversation'

Kerry McCallum (co-Chief Investigator), ARC Discovery Indigenous Project (2015-2017) with the ANU, The University of Queensland, Notre Dame University and Deakin University.

'Mediating Mental Health: An Integrated Approach to Investigating Media and Social Actors'

Kate Holland, ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2014-2016).

'Mobile digital communication and health management: An mHealth pilot program at the ACT GP Super Clinic'

Sora Park and Sally Burford, Funding: ACT Strategic Opportunities Program (2014-2015).

'Conversations about Alcohol and Pregnancy: Investigating Media Portrayals and Women's Experiences'

Kate Holland, Kerry McCallum and R.Warwick Blood. Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, (2014). $19,537.60.

'Mobile Indonesians: social differentiation and digital literacies in the twenty-first century'

Jerry Watkins (co-Chief Investigator), ARC Discovery Project (2013-16) with QUT, ANU.

'Shrinking the food-print by creating consumer demand for sustainable and healthy eating'

David Pearson (co-Chief Investigator), ARC Discovery Project (2013-2015) with ANU, Deakin University.

'Enhancing public organisations' digital literacy to facilitate online engagement'

Sora Park, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia Australia-Canada joint-action program (2013-2014).

'Opportunity Spaces - Community Engagement in the Planning, Use and Governance of Shared School Facilities'

Jerry Watkins (co-Chief Investigator), ARC Linkage Project (2012-15) with RMIT, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (Victoria).

'Public and media understandings of A/H1N1 (swine flu) within a risk communication environment'

R.Warwick Blood (First Chief Investigator), with University of Sydney, University of Melbourne. National Health and Medical Research Council (2010).  $107,340.

The Australian Health News Research Collaboration

R. Warwick Blood (Co-Chief Investigator), Kate Holland and Melissa Sweet, with University of Sydney, University of Melbourne. National Health & Medical Research Council, Capacity Building Grant in Public Health (2009-2013). $1,897,375.

'Australian News Media and Indigenous Policymaking 1988-2008'

Kerry McCallum (First Chief Investigator) and M. Meadows. Australian Research Council Discovery Grant, (2009-2011). $225,000