Dr Claire Konkes is researching how different forms of media contribute to people’s understanding of environmental policy and law.
In her current project, Claire Konkes is observing how debates about climate change are crystallizing around places like the Great Barrier Reef and how we understand complex issues like climate change through place.
“My work looks at how different groups are ignored or promoted in news coverage during environmental campaigns.”
“If you have ever wondered why there is not much political pressure to respond to big issues, such as climate change, we can look at how media, especially news media, communicates these problems.”
Dr Konkes has always felt a buzz when difficult or new concepts are explained well – and so naturally, she gets a buzz from getting the opportunity to help explain the tricky stuff.
“For many people outside our discipline, media is not well understood, so people are frustrated when they think journalists are getting things wrong or that social media is to be blamed for bigger societal problems.
“Being able to explain to people how media works, especially to people trying to communicate using media, helps people find better solutions to problems that need better communication.”
Unsurprisingly Dr Konkes has spent her life working in media and communications: formally as a journalist and now as Head of Discipline at the University of Tasmania’s Media School.
Her love for well executed communication has driven much of her teaching practice.
“Teaching people about communication often includes helping students see that their diverse curiosities, maybe it is science and film, or journalism and environmentalism, as not choices they have to make in their studies or careers but great opportunities to bring two different worlds closer together to solve interesting problems.”
Another component of Dr Konkes’ research examines the relationship between media and criminal acts, with a particular focus on the role of the media in portraying gendered and sexual violence.
The rise of social movements like, the #MeToo movement and, in Tasmania, the #Letherspeak campaign, which has resulted in a victim of crime being the 2021 Australian of the Year, is changing how society understands such crimes.
Dr Konkes’ said, “Media is playing an important role in these massive social changes we are seeing in Australia and elsewhere.”
“There are big questions that seem impossible to solve and they involve a lot of different aspects of society, such as politics and the courts and the work of scientists, that are turning like so many cogs in the massive body of the problem. I like to take case studies and observe the cogs turning and to see how improved communication can be part of the solution.”
Dr Konkes career as a print journalist has seen her work published at both a local and national level, with her journalism appearing in The Mercury, The Monthly and The Australian.
She is also a judge for the annual Tasmanian Media Awards. “It’s a pleasure to see the work being done – often by former students of our program – and being part of an industry that celebrates innovation and excellence.”
“Some writers collect rejection slips. I have a collection of thank you cards and emails from people who appreciate my work. Some are students thanking me for getting them started, one is from a mathematician who liked how I explained her work. I’ve received a tweet from the late great journalist Mark Colvin who liked something I wrote and told his many thousand followers,” said Dr Konkes
“In all these moments, big and small, I sense being part of the flow of communication that might make a small difference.”
Claire is Head of Discipline (Media) at The Media School. Her research interests include news media’s contribution to public debate, especially in environmental and criminal matters. In these spaces of civil discourse and deliberation, Claire’s investigates the ways in which journalism and other forms of media contributes to sense-making and problem-solving. Her research is particularly interested in environmental and science communication, especially in relation to public understanding of policy and legislation. She is an affiliated researcher with the Institute for the Study of Social Change (ISC) at the University of Tasmania and some of her recent projects have looked at media representations of environmental public interest litigation and Australian environmental policy.
Before joining the University of Tasmania, Claire worked as a print journalist. Her journalism has appeared in several publications, including the Australian and The Monthly and she continues to work with the media industry at local and national, including being a judge for the Tasmanian Media Awards since 2011.
Claire Konkes was awarded a PhD in Media at the University of Tasmania in 2015. Her PhD thesis, entitled 'The Age of Consent: News, crime and public debate' was both an examination of the news coverage of a complex and controversial criminal matter and an attempt to theoretically understand the relationship between contemporary journalistic practice and representations of crime, controversy and conspiracy. Before joining UTAS, Claire worked as a newspaper reporter for publications The Australian and Hobart’s Mercury.
'The Age of Consent: News, crime and public debate'
University of Tasmania
- Member, International Association for Communication and Media Research (IAMCR)
- Member, International Environmental Communication Association (IECA)
- Member, Australian and New Zealand Communications Association (ANZCA)
- Member, Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA)
- Affiliated Researcher, Institute for the Study of Social Change (ISC), University of Tasmania
Journalism; socially-useful news; news media; mediatised conspiracy; feature writing; strategic communications; media and politics; mediatised conflict.
Course and unit design of Bachelor of Media and Communication, UTAS.
Course and unit design of Master of Strategic Communication, UTAS.
Claire’s brings her professional and research experience in news media to teaching journalism, including news and feature writing. Her research interest in environmental and science communication informs her design and teaching in HEJ111 Communicating Sustainability, and HEJ308 Media, Power and Communication.
Claire Konkes’s research focuses on how news, and other media representations informs our understanding of how contemporary problems that become politicised. By examining the influences of traditional and emerging media in the formation of public opinion, policy and law, her work contributes to a better understanding of how media informs and shapes our responses to environmental challenges, including climate change and sustainability, and domestic violence and sexual crime.
Communication and media studies
News and journalism
Public understanding of science
Claire’s research is aligned with two of the University's key themes. Her research in media’s contribution to public debate and democratic deliberation about crime and other legal matters aligns with the research them of Creativity, Culture and Society. Claire is interested in how journalism and news media content help us to understand and engage in civil society, including policy, legislative and judicial decision-making. Her recent work, in collaboration with Dr Katrina Clifford and Dr Erin Hawley, examined how Australian media contributed to the ‘Rosie Batty effect’ during 2015 & 2016 when the advocacy work of Rosie Batty was pivotal in shifting national and local policy on family violence. Claire’s research on Australian media representation of public interest litigation bridges a gap in environmental criminology by looking at how claims and counter-claims are represented, and therefore understood, when environmental conflict reach the courtroom. Her work, in collaboration with Professor Libby Lester (University of Tasmania) and Dr Kerrie-Foxwell Norton (Griffith University) on media representations of the Great Barrier Reef aligns with the key them of Environment, Resources and Sustainability. This longitudinal study, which maps key moments in Australian environmental policy and law, investigates how changing media landscapes are informing mediatised debates about Australian environmental policy and, more widely, the transnational response to climate change.
Claire is collaborating with Professor Libby Lester (University of Tasmania) and Dr Kerrie-Foxwell Norton (Griffith University) on media representations of the Great Barrier Reef .
Media representations of the Great Barrier Reef:
This research examines the parallel and intersecting processes of modern environmental policy and news media practice in the context of the Great Barrier Reef to map changes in how media communicates Australian and transnational environmental policy.
It explores significant, and troubling, changes in how ‘protection’ policy is reported in Australian media and, by examining the role of news media in different geographic contexts, highlights the complex politics of protection of protecting the Reef in the context of global environmental crisis.
Media representation of environmental law:
Examining how the environment is represented in public interest litigation provides an opportunity to observe the interactions of media, activists, industry and politics in and outside the court and shows how our legal system is not immune to, but rather increasingly a part of, the politics of climate change in Australia.
Fields of Research
- Media studies (470107)
- Journalism studies (470105)
- Communication and media studies (470199)
- The media (130204)
Claire’s research examines how news media and journalism informs public debate about environmental policy and law.
Journal Article(9 outputs)
|2021||Konkes C, Foxwell-Norton K, 'Science communication and mediatised environmental conflict: a cautionary tale', Public Understanding of Science pp. 1-14. ISSN 1361-6609 (2021) [Refereed Article]|
|2021||Nixon C, Konkes C, Lester L, Williams K, 'Mediated visibility and public environmental litigation: the interplay between inside and outside court during environmental conflict in Australia', Laws, 10, (2) Article 35. ISSN 2075-471X (2021) [Refereed Article]|
Co-authors: Nixon C; Lester L; Williams K
|2021||Ross A, Lester L, Konkes C, 'Audience perspectives on paying for local news: a regional qualitative case study', Journalism Studies ISSN 1461-670X (In Press) [Refereed Article]|
Co-authors: Lester L
|2019||Dodd B, Konkes C, Reid D, Lester L, 'A freelance-based foreign exchange programme: Tasmanian students' professional development on WORLDREP', Australian Journalism Review, 41, (1) pp. 85-102. ISSN 0810-2686 (2019) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 1
Co-authors: Dodd B; Reid D; Lester L
|2018||Foxwell-Norton K, Konkes C, 'The Great Barrier Reef: News media, policy and the politics of protection', International Communication Gazette pp. 1-24. ISSN 1748-0485 (2018) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 2Web of Science - 3
|2018||Konkes C, 'Green lawfare: environmental public interest litigation and mediatized environmental conflict', Environmental Communication, 12, (2) pp. 191-203. ISSN 1752-4032 (2018) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 34
|2017||Hawley E, Clifford K, Konkes C, 'The Rosie Batty effect' and the framing of family violence in Australian news media', Journalism Studies ISSN 1461-670X (2017) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 9Web of Science - 8
Co-authors: Hawley E; Clifford K
|2017||Konkes C, Lester L, 'Incomplete knowledge, rumour and truth seeking: when conspiracy theories become news', Journalism Studies, 18, (7) pp. 826-844. ISSN 1461-670X (2017) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Co-authors: Lester L
|2016||Konkes C, Lester L, 'Justice, politics and the social usefulness of news', Crime, Media, Culture: an international journal, 12, (1) pp. 17-35. ISSN 1741-6590 (2016) [Refereed Article]|
Citations: Scopus - 4Web of Science - 4
Co-authors: Lester L
Chapter in Book(2 outputs)
|2021||Foxwell-Norton K, Konkes C, 'Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef: Environmental Protest, Climate Science, and New/s Media', Climate Change and Journalism Negotiating Rifts of Time, Taylor & Francis Ltd, H Bodker and HE Morris (ed), Australia ISBN 9780367547226 (In Press) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2019||Konkes C, 'Sex Crimes, Cover-Ups and Conspiracy Theories', Sex and Journalism: Critical, Global Perspectives, Bite-Sized Books, S Joseph and RL Keeble (ed), Goring, United Kingdom, pp. 55-61. ISBN 9781695107212 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]|
|2012||Konkes C, 'Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice', Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture and Policy, 145 pp. 161. ISSN 1329-878X (2012) [Review Single Work]|
|2012||Konkes C, 'Law and Ethics for Professional Communicators', Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture and Policy, 143 pp. 169. ISSN 1329-878X (2012) [Review Single Work]|
Conference Publication(2 outputs)
|2019||Konkes C, 'No such thing as a dead reef: communicating climate change through crisis', Proceedings of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) conference, 7-11 July 2019, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain (2019) [Conference Extract]|
|2017||Konkes C, 'A Dying Reef: Is communicating threats to Great Barrier Reef killing it too soon?', Proceedings of Consuming the Environment, 4-5 December 2017, University of Gavle, Sweden, pp. 16. (2017) [Conference Extract]|
|2015||Konkes C, 'The Age of Consent: News, crime and public debate' (2015) [PhD]|
Other Public Output(13 outputs)
|2021||Konkes C, 'Massive corporate tantrum', The Mercury, News Corp, Tasmania, 19 February (2021) [Media Interview]|
|2020||Konkes C, 'Talking point: Journalism has never been more important', The Mercury, Newscorp, Hobart, Tasmania, 30 April (2020) [Newspaper Article]|
|2020||Konkes C, 'What could the future of journalism look like?', Telum Media, Singapore (2020) [Media Interview]|
|2020||Konkes C, 'International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists', Breakfast with Ryk Goddard, ABC Radio Hobart, Hobart, Tasmania, 2 November (2020) [Media Interview]|
|2020||Konkes C, 'Talking Point: When journalists are intimidated, free speech falters', The Mercury, Newscorp, Hobart, Tasmania, 6 November (2020) [Newspaper Article]|
|2020||Konkes C, 'King Island Courier newspaper publishes its last edition with no-one to take up the 'pen'', ABC News, ABC, Australia, 12 November (2020) [Media Interview]|
|2019||Konkes C, 'Avoiding click-hate: lessons for the terror trial: Interview with David Williams', Newsroom, Newsroom Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand, 22 August, pp. 1-8. (2019) [Media Interview]|
|2019||Konkes C, 'Talking Point: Treating journalism as a crime', The Mercury, News Pty. Ltd., Hobart, Tasmania, 7 June, pp. 1-3. (2019) [Newspaper Article]|
|2019||Konkes C, 'When law is mightier than the pen', The Mercury, News Pty. Ltd., Hobart, Tasmania, February 16, pp. 22-23. (2019) [Newspaper Article]|
|2019||Konkes C, 'New Clark MP Madeleine Ogilvie's PR tactics labelled bizarre': Interview with James Kitto', The Mercury, News Pty. Ltd., Hobart, Tasmania, 12 September (2019) [Media Interview]|
|2019||Konkes C, 'Friday Forum: Interview with Leon Compton', ABC Radio Hobart, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Hobart, Tasmania, 13 September (2019) [Media Interview]|
|2017||Konkes C, 'Bender's choice: Tasmanian salmon, from farm to court', The Monthly, online, October 2017 (2017) [Magazine Article]|
|2016||Konkes C, 'Geert by sea', The Monthly: Australian politics, society and culture, October 2016 (2016) [Magazine Article]|
Grants & Funding
Number of grants
- The ongoing public debate around anthropogenic climate change makes one thing clear: scientists can have a hard time getting their message across to the public. Various explanations have been given for the lack of public acceptance of the reality of anthropogenic climate changefrom individual biases to manipulation of the media by those with vested interests. In this project, we will explore the hypothesis that: scientists have trouble communicating their findings to the public due to many members of the public having overly simplistic understandings of the nature of natural science. In particular, for example, we are interested in the apparently paradoxical idea that such resistance by the public can be the result of Scientisman excessive or dogmatic belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques. Those who view science this way may hold scientific discussion to an unrealistically high standard, and when a theory inevitably falls short of this standard (e.g. when there is seen to be disagreement among experts on climate change), the theory is dismissed as unsettled or a result of bad science. Alternatively, scientific claims may be dismissed as presumptuous or arrogant.In this project a multidisciplinary team will:1.Provide epistemic insights through the exploration of what is knowable in science from a cross-disciplinary perspective.2.Gather baseline data about:(i) the extent to which academic staff teachers, and cohorts of students from across disciplines, understand the nature and process of science;(ii) any correlations between overly simplistic understandings of science and dismissive attitudes towards particular theories, and/or the scientific enterprise in general.This is a pilot for a larger study which will gather a larger data set, and test the effectiveness of one or more interventions that will be designed to aid in the development of a more sophisticated view of science.
- University of Tasmania ($10,455)
- Grant - CALE Hothouse Alignment Scheme
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Fraser SP; Chase JK; Coady DA; Corry RL; Hinds M; Konkes C; Wood G; Seen AJ
- The study investigates Pedagogical Content Knowledge ( PCK) for lecturers across a broad range of disciplines in higher education. It poses three questions:1. Which aspects of their own discipline knowledge do university educators consider crucial for effective teaching? Do lecturers consciously consider this question and, if so, what guides their choices?2. How do dominant beliefs about particular disciplines influence the PCK needed to teach a particular discipline?3. How might a shared understanding of PCK across our disciplines enhance teaching and learning in higher education?
- University of Tasmania ($9,947)
- Grant-CAL Hothouse Research Enhancement Program
- Administered By
- University of Tasmania
- Research Team
- Oates GN; Beswick K; Chase JK; Fraser SP; Hinds M; Konkes C; Ross K
Claire is currently supervising Masters and HDR candidates on the following topics:
- Contemporary journalistic practice
- The changing role of public broadcasting in the Asia-Pacific
Claire is keen to supervise research Masters or PhDs on the following topics:
- Emerging journalism practices in response to digital technologies
- The use of courts for strategic environmental communication
- Emerging news media practices among environment groups and other NGOs
- Media discourses on sustainability, especially extractive industries
- News coverage of rape and other sexual crimes during conflict
|PhD||Australias Smart Power Challenge: Its use of international broadcasting, and the contested role of public interest media||2017|
|PhD||Media Consolidation and Personalised News Feeds: Investigating the impact on the quality, diversity and impact of political news in regional Australia||2019|
|PhD||Translation of Environmental Knowledge to Policy: Bridging the gap between scientists and societal behavioral change||2019|
|PhD||Holding Tasmanian Colonial Administrations to Account: Gilbert Robertson (editor of The Colonist and the True Colonist) and the administrations of Lt.Gov. George Arthur and Lt.Gov. Sir John Franklin||2019|