Converging Professions or Practices? Shifting Dynamics in a Digital Communication World Toning Down the Antagonism Between Communication and Journalism

Presented by: Dr Franzisca Weder

Date: Friday 21 May 2021
Time: 12–1pm
Location: Online via Zoom 


The growth of easy to use digital publishing technologies and related audience behavior influence public communication in general. We reached an era of “networked production of the public sphere”, with a concept of professional communicators working with the participation of the public and new communicator roles like citizen journalists or blogger, challenging our established principles and practices of communication under the labels of Journalism, PR or Marketing. In this presentation, we explore how public relations has been traditionally treated, both practically and theoretically, but how in rapidly changing communication contexts it becomes increasingly difficult to separate off particular communication practices as ‘public relations’, and others as ‘not public relations’. Therefore, we conceptualize ‘professional communication’ as rather co-creational, social practice and reflect on what it means for the future of communication in terms of required skills and education; here, we draw on narrative interviews conducted with UQ-summer research scholars in Central Europe (n = 30), New Zealand (n = 7), Australia (n = 15) and the Pacifics (n = 5) with a wide range of communicator roles ranging from journalists to communication consultants, to activists and individuals working as bloggers or social influencers. These conversations show that while the professions are still strictly demarcated, apparently there is an increasing common sense of professional communication as converged practices of ‘publishing’, ‘storytelling’ and dealing with technology under the label of ‘editing’. Thus, our presentation identifies the need for far more sophisticated and complicated predictions of the place of the role and theorising of professional communication in the future - not only but mainly for students growing into the disrupted field of communication.  


Dr Franzisca Weder is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland. Until 2019, she worked as Associate Professor at the University of Klagenfurt (Austria), after earning her PhD (Journalism) and habilitation/2nd PhD (Communication) from the University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (Germany). Franzisca Weder was responsible for the Sustainability program at the University of Klagenfurt, and is acting Vice-Chair of the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA) as well as Secretary of the Environmental Communication Division of the International Communication Association (ICA).


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