philchubbMonash Journalism staff are active researchers in Journalism Practice (research using journalism as the research practice) and Journalism Studies (research about journalism).  Staff and students conduct their journalism practice in strict accordance with the Australian Journalists’ Code of Ethics, which in turn reflects the ethical principles and standards of the International Federation of Journalists, and with regard to the regulatory processes of the Australian Press Council.

If you go to the homepages of our individual staff members you will see the current research with which we are engaged.

Our staff welcome enquiries about doctoral supervision in their particular areas of research interest and expertise and for general information about the doctoral program you can contact Associate Professor Philip Chubb.

We have a strong doctoral research program involving both a coursework component and thesis, and the thesis can be produced as either the traditional scholarly monograph in the PhD program, or as a substantial piece of original journalistic research through the PhD (Journalism) program. We encourage innovative approaches to Journalism Practice.

PhD research in journalism

Tom Doig, PhD Candidate

Project title: The Coal Face: The Lived Experience of the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire

In February of 2014, the open-cut coalmine next to Hazelwood Power Station caught fire. It burned out of control for forty-five days – over one thousand hours. The mine fire was one of the worst industrial disasters Victoria has ever seen. It may also prove to be one of the worst public health disasters the state has ever seen.

The fire was foreseeable. The disaster was preventable.

This research project aims to produce verified information of vital public interest: a manuscript that tells the story of the mine fire. It will be manuscript that does justice to the severity of its impact on the local community, focusing on the fine-grained lived experience of residents and workers. It will place the 45-day mine fire in historical context: as the inevitable end product of 70 years of slap-dash regional planning and inadequate regulation, and 20 years of privatisation, ‘minimal compliance’ and corporate malfeasance. And it will place the mine fire in the context of climate change: the decreasing viability of coal power as a source of energy; the accelerating risks of climate change to bushfire-prone regions.

This is a work of interpretive cultural journalism that utilises a hybrid methodological approach, drawing on oral history, literary journalism and ethnography.


Julie Tullberg, PhD Candidate

Project title: How has Twitter impacted the practice of newspaper journalism and the reporting of scandals in Australian rules football?

This thesis aims to investigate how Twitter has impacted on the way AFL scandals are reported and how it has affected the practice of print journalism.

AFL identities have been scrutinised for their behaviour and comments on Twitter, a social media platform which now acts as a breaking news service for its users and football fans.

Since the introduction of Twitter in Australian sports journalism, AFL scandals have been covered more broadly across print and digital platforms. This has changed the way sports journalists operate daily, as they now use social media to investigate scandalous news.

A number of case studies will be used to highlight the pitfalls of Twitter, as its users and fans contribute to scandals that generate front-page news stories and attract large page impression numbers on masthead websites.

Janet M. Harkin, PhD Candidate

Project title: Older drivers: Community, media and driver perceptions of competence

This interview-based study aims to explore the role of driving for older people and their experiences of self-regulation of driving and licence restriction. The outcome will be longform journalism – a non-fiction book to support informed decision-making around older people and driving – and an exegesis – to locate the research within academic and journalistic discussion of representations of disempowered/stigmatised groups, ageing and disability, and oral history methodology.

Australia’s population is ageing. High birth rates in the “Baby Boom” years coupled with increased longevity from improved health have boosted the number of Australian residents aged 65 and over. This age group is predicted to represent almost a quarter of the population by 2030, a scenario faced by most western nations, with serious consequences for road transport and social and economic policies, given the high percentage of this cohort who drive.

This project will increase community awareness of the crucial role of access to out-of-home activity in maintaining well-being in old age, underlining the need to retain access to goods and services when a person can no longer drive, and highlighting the needs of families and carers as the community ages.

Denise Ryan, PhD Candidate

Project title: African Australian Stories: The Journey to Belong

This long-form, narrative, non-fiction journalism project investigates the African Australian experience by exploring issues of – and theoretical frameworks for – identity, belonging, acculturation, integration and displacement. Also considered is the journalist as ethnographer, anthropologist and oral historian.

The research project provides a series of in-depth profile feature articles that will offer a fresh insight on the relatively recent migration experiences of Africans to Australia and the extent of their sense of ‘belongingness’.


Steve Lillebuen, PhD Candidate

Project titleRumour Mill: The Black Saturday Marysville Bushfire and the Ethics of Naming Suspects in the Media – a Case Study

This PhD project will be the first empirical and normative study into the ethics of naming criminal suspects in media in Victoria, utilising an in-depth case study, interviews, a survey of journalists, and a content analysis of media coverage to learn how, why, and how often suspects are identified. The findings, drawn from this mixed methods approach, will advance our understanding of current media practice, one with serious ethical implications in the digital age.


Thu Mach, PhD Candidate

Project title: Emerging social media and the green public sphere in Vietnam

The blooming of social media with its user generated content has brought challenges to the state-owned mainstream media in Vietnam and contributed significantly to the change in public policy and society. Social media, therefore, has been cultivated as an effective tool for the public sector in constructing a public sphere around the issues of environment, climate change and sustainability while the issues have been largely neglected by Vietnamese public and mainstream media.

The primary research question in the project is: “what is social media’s roles in constructing a public sphere around green issue in Vietnam?” The research will analyse five case studies to examine the multifaceted impacts of social media on politics, economics and society, government, business and civil society.

Binh Duong Pham, PhD candidate

Project title: The Changing Relationship Between The Government And The Media In Vietnam With Respect To Reporting On The Environment In The Period 2000 – 2013

The context of the project is the post-1986 Doi Moi (renovation) period of industrialization and modernization under the government’s policy of creating a ‘socialism-oriented market economy’. The study focuses on the changing relationships among four main spheres or fields of activity: government and politics, the economy, the environment and journalism. The research will assess the impact that Doi Moi has had on Vietnam in those fields.

Understanding the relationship of the players in the fields and the strength of each component will help assess the progress or retrogression of Vietnamese media’s coverage of environmental issues during the last decade.

Erin Bradshaw, PhD Candidate

Project title: “Legacy” and “Emerging” journalism: Transparency, Accountability, and audience engagement online

This thesis examines how news organisations engage with their online audiences via social media, and whether or not the news organisations are transparent and accountable while doing so. Because news media wield an immense amount of power over the public’s access to knowledge and to the news gathering and distribution process, it is important to keep checks and balances via evaluation and critical analysis to make sure news organisations are not misusing their power.

This project aims to contribute to present and future research in “open ethics” theory, and to add to the existing body of knowledge in online journalism ethics.

Yanzhu Xu, PhD Candidate

Project title: Constructing Justice in China: Newspaper Coverage of Judicial Cases and Media Access to Courts

This research aims to explore how news media in China report judicial cases before and during trials. It will investigate the following questions: (1) how newspapers from China and mature liberal democracies frame judicial cases; (2) to what extent can the media access to the courts, what challenges they face when reporting judicial cases and how they react to such challenges; and (3) mapping the relationship between news media, courts and politics.

This research is the first systematic in-depth study of tensions between news media and the judiciary in China from the perspective of newspaper coverage of judicial cases. The comparative study will contribute to a better understanding of the standing and independence of Chinese journalism.

Anthea Power, PhD Candidate

Project title: Polluting News Values: the Climate Change (dis)information war in Australia.

The aim of the project is to determine if the Australian Broadcasting Corporation accurately and effectively communicates content involving Climate Science.

The debate over anthropogenic climate change has been ongoing since the 1960s.  97% of scientists agree that anthropogenic climate change is real and that inaction will have a significant impact on human habitation of the plant. While roughly 80% of Australians agree that climate change is occurring only half of those 80% believe it is due to human activity.

So what is causing this discrepancy between the scientific and public consensus? Why is disbelief being spread, how is it being spread and by whom? And, most importantly, what role do the public broadcasters, with their requirement to present what’s in the ‘public’s interest’, have in this interplay.

The Public Broadcasters are often rated as the ‘most trusted’ sources for news content. They have an obligation to produce content that is ‘in the public’s interest’, but are they adequately held accountable? The recent ‘Wakefield’ controversy has demonstrated how one (falsified) study can quickly gain momentum in the media, leading to the creation of the ‘anti-vaccine’ movement and decreased vaccination rates. Anthropogenic Climate Change is perhaps the most important issue currently facing humankind and if not effectively communicated to the public – the future of humankind is at stake.