The Chairman and CEO of News Limited has told a gathering of media insiders and researchers that there is a growing need for relevant, high quality research into the media, during a period of great change in the industry.
Speaking at the launch of UNSW's prestigious Journalism and Media Research Centre, John Hartigan has welcomed its commitment to industry-focused research through better collaboration with those in the industry.
"You are embarking on your quest to become the leading research centre in its field at an ideal time," he told the gathering. "The internet is the biggest thing to happen to the media since the telephone. And there is still a lot we don't know and don't understand about the social, political or industry implications.
"There is a place I believe for a new body of high quality research - a big gap in the market if you like - that you are well positioned to occupy."
Mr Hartigan who has been a journalist for more than 40 years has been at the forefront of a recent campaign by the Australian media to get governments and the judiciary to reform more than 500 pieces of legislation that restrict the public's right to know how it is governed and how courts dispense justice.
Led by Professor Catharine Lumby and including some of the country's leading media and journalism experts, the Centre conducts public and private sector research into three key areas: new media audiences and business models; the social, cultural and health impacts of media consumption; and the regulation, ethics and practice of journalism.
"We want our research to be independent, expert and excellent," said Professor Lumby.
"Our focus is on research that assists our journalism and media industries to be competitive and flexible and that also sets an evidence-based agenda in public policy.
"Academic research in our field has to be applied, relevant and engaged with real issues confronting the private and public sectors," she said. "What sets us apart is that all of the key researchers in the Centre have been involved in journalism and in the private sector."
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Fred Hilmer, said the Centre sits well with UNSW's professional and scientific focus.
"It's a good fit with where the University is heading and shows the sort of leadership that the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences can provide," he said.
The Centre, which is part of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is offering a Masters in Journalism and Communciations next year that will be taught by industry professionals.
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