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Seminar | Dead reefs and diaries: Two adventures in media research


The Media School Seminar Series.

Start Date

28 Jun 2019 4:00 pm

End Date

28 Jun 2019 5:00 pm


Room 206, The Media School, Salamanca Square

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Investigating apocalypticism in environmental communication

Dr Claire Konkes

The image of the Great Barrier Reef as a dead or dying reef has informed global understanding of the Reef since the earliest campaigns for its protection. For instance, in 1967, the first campaign challenged proposals for coral mining by arguing there was ‘no such thing as a dead reef’. Despite its iconic status as a living wonder, the image of a dying Reef has resurfaced as a harbinger of the ecological calamity of climate change has emerged and in 2016, reports of mass coral bleaching resulted in media coverage claiming the Reef had “died”, which was amplified by a satirical obituary to the Reef that went viral.

This paper examines how the enduring idea of a dead and dying reef, which is what Walter McNeish (2017) might describe as an example the “apocalypticism in green politics”, can inform our understanding of media messages that motivate political action and the perils of political satire. It also considers how Google Trends can be used by media researchers as a measure of audience engagement.

Claire Konkes is Head of Discipline at The Media School. Her research interests include news media’s contribution to public debate, especially in environmental and criminal matters. She is an affiliated researcher with the Institute for the Study of Social Change (ISC) at the University of Tasmania and her recent projects have looked at media representations of environmental public interest litigation and Australian environmental policy.

Experimenting with digital ethnography to consider democratic (dis)engagement

Angela Ross

In this seminar I will demonstrate how I experimented with digital qualitative research methods to investigate how different media facilitate democratic engagement. The media are a central tool used by citizens to engage in civil society. Yet numerous obstacles have been blamed for reducing the ability of citizens to use media to participate in the democratic process. These include the spread of misinformation online, the personalisation of online content, a decline in the quality and diversity of mainstream news content and political disenchantment. There is a dearth of qualitative research examining the impact of these issues on democratic engagement from the perspective of media consumers. I will explain why I decided to conduct a digital ethnographic diary project in the lead up to the 2019 federal election. I will also justify selecting Launceston in regional Tasmania as my case study and discuss some of the preliminary findings from this PhD project.

Angela Ross is a PhD candidate at the UTAS School of Creative Arts and Media. Angela has worked in the media as a broadcast journalist and presenter for 20 years. She presents the ABC’s Tasmanian 7pm TV News from Friday to Sunday.