I am Foundation Professor of Journalism here at Monash University.
My colleagues and I have been building what we think is a truly innovative program at Monash Journalism. In our thinking and through our teaching and research we are addressing the issues that confront journalism as the institutions and technologies that have sustained it for decades melt away or are radically transformed. The hallmark of our approach is the mutual interrogation of theory and practice, which is why we have the two majors of Journalism Practice and Journalism Studies in our coursework programs, and the PhD (Journalism) for research students.
From our position in a university, I am particularly interested in the question of what is journalism as an intellectual discipline, sitting alongside history, geography and politics in the broad humanities. Journalism is, of course, a craft and a profession as well as a discipline and indeed an artform – none of which are mutually exclusive.
The approach is exploratory. At the moment I am researching a booklength project on the significance for journalism of conceptual art, and in particular the work of Hans Haacke. Some key aspects of Haacke’s work that I think are relevant to contemporary journalism are
- the way he strips back the material art object to the bare necessary minimum, which then poses extensive questions about the social significance of the object, particularly those that provoke controversy – this resonates with the relationship in journalism between facts and newsworthiness.
- the way he is able to identify precise points of conflict in social relations and institutional values, and produce an object (fact) that calls forth the protagonists in the conflict to act and reveal themselves and their interests – in journalistic terms, he has a highly refined news sense.
- the significance of the place of exhibition/publication, particularly for those exhibitions that were successfully (or not) banned – are the legacy news media a tamed location for the publication of important information?