Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Interacting with the media

Two journalists have contacted me during the course of my candidature in response to material published about my research. One was Brendan O’Keefe from The Australian who followed up part of a joint paper prepared for an AARE Conference. He wrote a brief profile highlighting aspects of my being a mature age doctoral candidate. The article was published as part of the newspaper’s supplement on postgraduate study in September 2005.

Erica Cervini from The Financial Review filed a story yesterday entitled "PhD students enter the blogosphere". The article was part of that paper’s regular Monday lift-out feature on higher education, and reported on candidates using blogs to illuminate aspects of the contemporary doctoral experience. Reference was made to the work of Mary-Helen Ward from the University of Sydney—a colleague of mine whose Faultlines website is documenting research on PhD blogging—and mine via this site.

The proactive role played by these journalists is worthy of note. In both instances, they took the initiative by following up material that had been published in what could be regarded as relatively obscure locations—the proceedings of an academic conference and a PhD candidate’s blog. Second, they both contacted me by phone and asked permission to refer to this material and to conduct a short interview. Third, and even more surprising, was the fact that they got back to me with an outline of the article they were planning to submit to their editors.

In my previous roles, media liaison tended to be a two-edged sword. Much time and effort was spent endeavouring to convince education journalists and editors of the virtues of my organisation’s latest publication, conference or project—often with limited impact. However, as soon as a political issue arose, they would be on the phone for a comment—invariably on an issue that required the provision of an opposing or controversial viewpoint to warrant inclusion in the media report they were preparing. Maybe it’s just the nature of my current work/research context, but the demonstrated professionalism of these two journalists was impressive.