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Vale Richard Warwick Blood (1947-2022)

Colleagues, former students and friends are saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Emeritus Richard Warwick Blood.

Warwick led the development of the University's professional communication programs in Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising for over a decade. He was also a leading figure in Australian and international journalism and media research.

Born and raised in Sydney, Warwick studied science at the University of Sydney before joining ABC Radio as a cadet journalist.

Over his journalism career Warwick was posted to the ABC’s New York bureau and worked for the flagship PM current affairs program.

Unusually for the fledgling Communication and Media Studies discipline, Warwick obtained both masters and doctoral qualifications in Communication in the United States. He received his PhD on agenda-setting theory in 1982 under the supervision of Prof. Max McCombs at Syracuse University, NY. After being awarded his PhD, Warwick was appointed Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism at Ohio State University.

Warwick returned to Australia with his young family where he was instrumental in establishing the highly successful postgraduate journalism program at Charles Sturt University.

He made a major contribution to the study of journalism and communication in Australia. He was the President of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association 1994-95; and co-host of the International Communication Association Sydney conference in 1995. He was editor of the Australian Journalism Review in the 2000s.

Warwick was appointed as Professor of Communication and Head of School of Professional Communication at the University of Canberra in 1998. He oversaw major curriculum reviews of the Journalism and Communication programs.

His research leadership and mentorship has made a lasting impact on generations of UC students and academics. The undergraduate Communication and Media Research unit was initially feared but sparked many students’ interest in pursuing Honours and Higher Degrees by Research. Warwick supervised numerous Honours, Masters and PhD candidates; he was an outstanding supervisor, engendering in his students passion, methodological rigour and research independence.

Warwick Blood was a driving force in the foundation of the News and Media Research Centre in 2013. Despite heavy administrative workloads he established the Public Communication Research Cluster, drawing together staff and HDRs to pursue critical questions around media industries, news representation and health communication. This small research group evolved into the News and Media Research Centre, and is now a UC strategic research centre.

His research interests were in journalism and risk communication, with a particular interest in health. Warwick published widely on the reporting of health issues such as suicide, mental illness, obesity and influenza.  He was co-founder of the National Health and Medical Research Council funded Australian Health News Research Collaboration. In 2006 he was awarded the Vice-Chancellor's Distinction Award for his research into how the media reports and misreports health issues. Warwick was pioneer of industry-focused, impactful research, conducting research for the Department of Health and Ageing, the Australian National Council on Drugs, and beyondblue. His research informed the Mindframe National Media Initiative and its guidelines for journalists, police and the mental health sector. In 2012, he published with John Tulloch, Icons of War and Terror (Routledge).

Warwick retired and became Professor Emeritus in January 2015. He had a reserved demeanour and was a loyal colleague, mentor and friend. His legacy lives on through their research and through the N&MRC.

He is survived by his wife, Susan, and sons Huw and Nicholas.

The Faculty of Arts and Design will look to formally recognise and honour Warwick’s many contributions and enduring legacy in the months ahead.

Words by the News and Media Research Centre team.

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