Caroline Fisher

Caroline Fisher
University of Canberra · Faculty of Arts & Design

Doctor of Philosophy

About

37
Publications
34,323
Reads
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294
Citations
Introduction
Caroline Fisher is an Associate Professor of Communication and Media (Journalism) and Deputy Director of the News & Media Research Centre in the Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra. Caroline is co-author of the Digital News Report: Australia and researches in Communication and Media. Her key research interests include trust in news, news consumption, regional journalism shifting journalist-source relations, and political PR.
Additional affiliations
July 2015 - present
University of Canberra
Position
  • Assistant Professor - Journalism
Description
  • Lecturer in journalism and political communication

Publications

Publications (37)
Article
As the news media continue to search for sustainable business models in response to digitisation, concern about low levels of trust in news has been rising. Trust in news brands is seen as an essential pre-requisite for their economic survival. While there is extant research on the crisis of trust in news, less attention has been paid to identifyin...
Article
Digital platforms such as search engines and social media have become major gateways to news. Algorithms are used to deliver news that is consistent with consumers’ preferences and individuals share news through their online social networks. This networked environment has resulted in growing uncertainty about online information which has had an imp...
Article
Local news outlets are under threat in the digital era, and many are closing or merging with other news media due to the loss in advertising and audiences. A sustainable business model to replace traditional dependence on advertising has not yet been established. This paper examines one aspect of the business-audience payment-to explore the viabili...
Article
The final days of the Trump presidency and its aftermath brought into sharp focus the issue of political lying. Politicians have historically employed rhetoric and rhetorical spin to embellish the truth and hide damaging information. However, outright lying has traditionally been deemed politically too risky, resulting in resignation and the underm...
Article
Prior to COVID-19, trust in news was low, and Australian audiences were most concerned about mis- and disinformation from Australian political actors, followed closely by news outlets. Twelve months on trust in news had risen, and concern about misinformation from journalists and politicians had fallen dramatically. This shift followed increased ne...
Article
Almost 200 journalism outlets closed, decreased their service, ended print editions, or merged with other newsrooms between January 2019 and Februrary 2021, accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. Regional news outlets were among the hardest hit, intensifying calls for effective government policy and industry interventions to bolster the sector. Althou...
Chapter
Ivor Gaber and Caroline Fisher explore attempts by the Conservatives’ public relations operation, their ‘spin’ machine, to influence the campaign agenda. The piece focuses on the work of Boris Johnson’s influential adviser Dominic Cummings and others to shape the electoral narrative through use of what the authors call ‘strategic lying’. Such inter...
Research
Full-text available
The Digital News report: Australia 2021 is part of the RISJ global study of news consumption and attitudes. The Australia report is produced by the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra and led by Professor Sora Park.
Article
Social isolation has become a growing issue, particularly among older citizens. The ‘digital divide’ has been identified as one of the contributing factors leaving many older citizens behind. While increasing digital literacy among seniors has been identified as one of the remedies, less attention has been paid to the role of news media on the well...
Article
Dr Brian McNair was an important scholar in the fields of journalism, media and political communication. His scholarship was prolific. He was a thought leader but not an elitist. He made his work accessible to all, writing in the media as well as in academic journals and books. His sudden and premature death, aged 60, was a huge shock and is a big...
Article
Online news users interact with news on digital platforms in different ways. Some take advantage of the technical affordances that allow sharing, liking and commenting, while others do not. Based on a national survey of the Australian adult online news users, this study explores online news users’ different modes of interaction on digital platforms...
Research
Full-text available
Digital News Report Australia 2019 provides the latest analysis of news consumption in Australia. It is part of a 38 country study co-ordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.
Article
The blurring of professional boundaries between journalism and other communications roles is a contested issue in journalism scholarship. To date, much of the work has examined this topic in relation to the impact of digitization on journalism practice, and the challenges this presents to traditional conceptions of journalistic professionalism. Les...
Article
This entry provides an overview of conflict of interest in journalism, what it is, how it is changing, and how it can be remedied. Conflict of interest occurs when other interests, such as financial, political, or personal interests, influence a reporter's judgment and undermine his or her ability to serve the public interest through independent re...
Article
The use of social media by politicians has received much scholarly interest. However, much less is known about the citizens who follow them and whether their motivation to seek information directly from political actors is linked to perceptions of journalism practice. To address this gap, this paper examines the motivations of news users, in six co...
Article
Full-text available
The relationship between journalists and their sources lies at the heart of journalism practice. Journalists rely on sources to find out information and construct stories. Put simply, without sources there would be no journalism. As the name implies, a “source” in journalism refers to a source of information from which the reporter garners material...
Research
Full-text available
Digital News Report Australia 2018 is the latest survey findings on Australians' news consumption. It is produced by the News & Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra. It is commissioned by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and the University of Oxford as part of its annual global RIDNR study.
Article
Full-text available
Politicians’ use of Twitter during election periods has been extensively researched. There has been less scholarly focus on the way politicians’ use of Twitter changes depending on their political circumstances. This article reports on an analysis of Malcolm Turnbull’s Twitter account from October 2008 to July 2016 examining his ‘engagement’ in ter...
Article
Traditionally politicians have been dependent on political news media to get their message across to the public. The rise of social media means that politicians can bypass the Press Gallery and publish directly to their target audiences via Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. This article argues that Prime Minister John Howard’s (19...
Chapter
Questions surrounding trust in news media have preoccupied scholars for almost a century. Based on a review of interdisciplinary literature, this paper maps the changing nature of news ‘trust’ over the past 80 years. In doing so, it highlights key issues. Firstly, there is no agreed definition of trust in news media. Secondly, there is a growing di...
Article
Full-text available
The parliamentary media adviser is commonly portrayed as a partisan “spin-doctor,” with little distinction made between the inherent partisan nature of the role and the personal partisanship of the practitioner. Semistructured qualitative interviews with 21 journalists who became parliamentary media advisers highlight the difference between the two...
Article
Full-text available
This paper reports on qualitative interviews with 10 Australian news editors and nine Australian politicians about the transition of press secretaries to political journalism and associated issues of partisanship and conflict of interest. Inductive analysis of the interviews revealed the importance of professionalism, reputation and perceptions of...
Research
Full-text available
Survey and analysis of Australians' consumption of digital news media. It features two chapters by this researcher. One on Trust & Avoidance of news media in Australia;and the other is about Following Politicians on Social Media. The data from this second chapter forms part of the project: 'By-passing the Fourth Estate'.
Article
Full-text available
Questions surrounding trust in news media have preoccupied scholars for almost a century. Based on a review of interdisciplinary literature, this paper provides an overview of the evolution of conceptions of news trust over the past 80 years. In doing so, this paper highlights key problems with the question of trust in this context. First, despite...
Article
Full-text available
Disclosure of a journalist’s interests is one of a range of transparency measures being advocated to help lift levels of accountability and public trust in journalism. However, there is a lack of consensus about the efficacy of this type of personal disclosure and how it should be performed. This paper reports on inductive analysis of semi-structur...
Article
Full-text available
The goal of advocacy is commonly used to distinguish journalism from public relations practice. At the same time, there is a strong tradition of advocacy reporting in journalism that weakens this point of distinction. In an attempt to reconcile this apparent contradiction, this article draws on the concept of a continuum to explain extremes in jour...
Article
Full-text available
The Routledge companion to social media and politics contains a strong collection of contemporary international research into social media and its use for political purposes. In response to an over representation of US studies in this growing area of scholarship, the editors set out to broaden the field and offer a truly international range of per...
Article
Full-text available
The path between journalism and parliamentary media advising is well trodden. However, there has been little examination of the impact becoming a media adviser has on a reporter’s conception of journalism values and practice. This paper reports on a selection of findings from broader inductive qualitative research into the under-explored career tra...
Article
Full-text available
When a journalist returns to political reporting after working as a political media adviser it can trigger concern about conflict of interest based on a suspicion of partisanship. Despite this, there is little discussion in the journalism literature about how reporters should manage this type of conflict when it arises. This paper reports on a sele...
Article
Full-text available
The principle of transparency in journalism, including disclosure of journalistic processes and reporters’ personal interests, has been enthusiastically embraced. However there has been little focus on the possible harm disclosure can have on a reporter’s reputation. This paper reports on a selection of findings from wider inductive, qualitative re...
Article
Full-text available
This book takes a fresh look at the well-documented and contentious relationship between journalism and public relations. While some of the content and arguments have appeared in earlier journal publications (Macnamara,2012;Macnamara, 2014), this text also contains new material, including the author’s personal reflections on moving back and forth b...
Article
Full-text available
The movement of journalists between reporting and parliamentary media advising is common. Despite this, there has been surprisingly little scholarly examination of the career transition, its challenges and benefits. This paper reports on a selection of findings from a wider study of the transition from journalism to parliamentary media advising and...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In journalism, public relations and political communications scholarship journalism and parliamentary media advising have been defined in opposition to each other. This is most notably observed in the ubiquitous stereotypes of the journalist as democratic 'watchdog' and the parliamentary media adviser 1 as Machiavellian 'spin doctor'. Both of these...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
‘Bypassing the Fourth Estate’ examines the extent to which Irish and Australian politicians bypass the scrutiny of journalists by publishing directly to online and social media. The use of social media by populist politicians, such as US President Donald Trump, has led to concern about the breakdown of the traditional relationship between the news media and politicians. During the US presidential election campaign Donald Trump repeatedly criticized the news media and masterfully used social media, primarily Twitter, to spread his messages to the public unchecked. This ability to bypass the news media is a phenomenon called ‘disintermediation’ (Coleman, 2005; Steiner, 2009), which is also referred to as ‘direct representation’ (Coleman 2005) or ‘self-representation’ (Lilleker & Koc-Michalska, 2013). While politicians’ ability to bypass journalistic scrutiny via social media is noted in the research literature there are few empirical studies on the phenomenon. In this context, this pilot project will examine the extent to which Australian and Irish politicians are adopting this strategy and why, and the whether the public prefers unfiltered political spin to reports by the news media. The project has three components: (1) a content analysis of news media and political social media account to examine if and when politicians are choosing to bypass the scrutiny of journalists and publish directly to their target audiences via social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). (2) survey analysis, using the annual Reuters Digital News Report, to identify and assess trends regarding how media consumers prefer to access political information including subscribing to, or following, the social media feeds (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) of politicians as well as correlation (3) qualitative interviewing with political media advisers to identify the strategic thinking that lies behind the targeted use of specific platforms and to assess perceptions of value and trust associated with mainstream and social media platforms. The findings of this pilot study will lay the foundation for a wider comparative study. The researchers: Dr Caroline Fisher, Assistant Professor in journalism at the University of Canberra. Dr Eileen Culloty, Institute for Future of Media and Journalism (FuJo) at Dublin City University.