Leicester to Rhodes: Dr Julian Matthews visits JMSDate Released: Wed, 8 August 2018 08:51 +0200
by Ettioné Ferreira
Rhodes JMS recently had the pleasure of hosting Dr Julian Matthews from the University of Leicester to learn more about his ethnographic research into the production of news.
Matthews’ research interests focuses on sociology of journalism and news media production. “My past research has focused on (differentiated) news forms, tracing how their unique textual properties are ‘visualised’ - sometimes contested and changed - and then physically ‘shaped’ into news representations by news teams,” Matthews says. The research used BBC Newsround and Channel 4 News as case studies.
Currently he teaches various media studies modules at the University of Leicester’s Department of Media and Communication which is also his alma mater as he did his Masters degree through UL. Before he joined Leicester in 2008, he taught as Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University for 10 years and received his PhD in Social Sciences from Brunel University in 2003.
Unfortunately, Matthews could only stay for a short five days in South Africa – coming straight to Rhodes University. On Tuesday Matthews presented the weekly JMS research seminar introducing the team to his ethnographic approach to news production and the research he did in the past but also more recently. We asked a few questions about his visit to Rhodes JMS:
Q: How has your South African journey been so far?
A: Really interesting! For me personally as an academic, my goal is to travel to other places, outside of my own milieu and to see how media is produced and works in other places. Ideally, I would like to spend a year here to really have a worthwhile ability to experience something different. This is my first time in South Africa so would like more time here.
Q: How do you think Rhodes is different/similar to Leicester?
A: It’s difficult with so little time here but Leicester is quite big so Rhodes University is very much like my first university, Bath Spa. It’s very small and more personal. It gives me a warm feeling. You get to see students develop (in a small university), which is the most rewarding thing as a teacher and I can see that is how Rhodes is.
Q: Have you identified anything in SA that would interest you research-wise?
A: One of my motivations coming here was that it would be a good opportunity to do a collaboration with Rhodes. I have a desire to get a grasp on different news environments so a collaboration between the UK and SA and exploring how news media is changing in different contexts would be intriguing.
Q: In the research seminar we ended up talking a lot about the negative effects of digital media. From your research on traditional media, could you identify any positive opportunities and relevance of your theoretical frameworks?
A: What is very interesting is that a lot of studies in journalism talks about how closed journalism was and audiences were always at the end. What is intriguing, is that by some degree it has changed. We now have this noise with different voices on digital media and there’s a lot of reproduction of similar perspectives. The funding models has changed and we had to rethink the whole process. People can now be producing and commenting at the same time but I do think the frameworks are still important.
Q: Do you have any encouragements/inspiration that you could give to postgraduate students?
A: What I still find after a number of years is that journalism and media is absolutely fascinating with tons of possibilities. You never lose that fascination but you just don’t have time to do everything you want to or research all the aspects. My advice would be to enjoy it as much as possible, dive into as much research as you can and most importantly, enjoy it!