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Participatory Journalism and Citizen Engagement in Australian Public Communication

As I arrived back in Brisbane, there was good news relating to my research work waiting for me here. Some time ago, we'd put in a proposal for a Linkage grant project to the Australian Research Council - and after a considerable waiting period, Linkage outcomes were finally announced a couple of weeks ago. So, I'm happy to report that our participatory news project has finally received the go-ahead (and the $380,000 of funding over four years attached to it) from the ARC. This is a project for which I'll be a co-Chief Investigator with my QUT colleagues Terry Flew and Stuart Cunningham - and our industry partners are SBS, National Forum, the Brisbane Institute, and Cisco Systems. I'm particularly looking forward to working with SBS on this, who (in addition to being the Australian home of football) are also one of the most innovative and responsible broadcast organisations in Australia.

Here is our project outline - and I think the connection of this project to my own research interests, especially as my Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production book is concerned, is probably fairly obvious:

Investigating Innovative Applications of Digital Media for Participatory Journalism and Citizen Engagement in Australian Public Communication

This project benefits the Australian community by undertaking the first comprehensive audit of collaborative online news production, and linking this to prototypes developed with leading industry partners such as SBS and Cisco Systems, to promote greater citizen participation in news production and public communication. It marks the first sustained application of an open source framework to understanding the future of journalism and news media, and public communication in a democratic society, through the development of user generated content derived from online user communities and peer to peer interaction. It promotes smart innovation use through collaboration and user led innovation in digitally networked online environments.

In addition to this national recognition for our work, I also had some good news closer to home: I've been awarded the Creative Industries Faculty Dean's Award for outstanding contribution to research (and indeed this was awarded even before we secured the Linkage grant). I'm thrilled to have been recognised in this way, of course, especially at this still relatively early stage in my career; it's a great compensation for the (partly self-induced) exhaustion I've felt over the past few months.

I'm almost as thrilled about the fact that there's a $1000 prize attached to the award, too - this means that I'm finally going to be able to replace my increasingly unreliable mobile phone with a fancy new all-in-one mobile device. If anyone has suggestions for what current models are the ones to go for, please let me know - what I'm after should be a PDA, phone, camera, MP3 player, and of course should support Bluetooth and wireless. Doesn't need to have a full keyboard - I'm just as happy with a stylus-driven interface.

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Very well deserved on both counts. Excellent news Axel!