21 June 2011

A new lab with the look of a Hollywood movie ‘situation room’ will open at The University of Queensland after a team of academics secured $180,000 to fund a media space that uses the latest in software technology.

Dr Seb Kaempf and Dr Martin Weber from Political Science and International Studies and Associate Professor Eric Louw from Journalism and Communication are using the Major Equipment and Infrastructure fund to embark on new territory for social science research.

The equipment including hardware, software and storage facilities will be used to monitor televised newscasts from global public service broadcasters simultaneously and continuously with the aim of analysing televised media reporting on major political events.

In recent months, the world has witnessed a series of significant events and humanitarian crises – the Brisbane floods, political unrest in Libya, the Japanese tsunami, and the death of Osama Bin Laden – which have all been followed and understood through the media’s lens.

The UQ researchers will use the new technology to track the trajectory of a news story across time and space, which will help analyse agenda setting, developments of cultural constructions and how these variables shape our understanding of events of great significance.

“It is a very exciting time for research in this area and with the addition of this new lab, it will take our research to a whole new level,” Professor of International Relations Rolan Bleiker said.

The lab will be housed in the School of Political Science and International Studies where a key research cluster focused on the political dimensions of images and the role of the media is emerging.

The research team hope that the facility will be a draw card for attracting research higher degree students, postdoctoral fellows and international academics.

Both Dr Kaempf and Dr Weber have published research on the role of culture and the media in conflict situations.

The School also hosts an ARC Discovery Project on How images shape responses to humanitarian crises, which is led by Professor Bleiker, and involves postdoctoral fellow Dr Emma Hutchison and partner investigator from Durham University, Professor David Campbell.

Media: Gillian Ievers (07 3365 3308 or g.ievers@uq.edu.au)