Collaboration brings University’s journalism knowledge to the world

Collaboration brings University’s journalism knowledge to the world

UOW partners with global broadcasting union to harness the power of audio storytelling

Academics from the University of Wollongong will help journalists around the world to harness the power of podcasting under a new teaching and research partnership.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the University and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), which was yesterday (Thursday 11 January) formalised at UOW, will showcase the expertise of the University’s renowned media and communications experts and help broadcasters in more than 60 countries to connect with their listeners via audio storytelling.

The ABU’s reach spans the globe, with 280 member broadcasters in 69 countries, including China, Russia, Indonesia, India, and the United States. With an audience of close to 3.5 billion people, the ABU will provide UOW with an unparalleled opportunity to bring its capability in digital media and audio storytelling to all corners of the world.

One of the main focuses will be podcasting, with UOW academics, led by internationally renowned oral historian and podcaster Associate Professor Siobhan McHugh, working with broadcasters to capture new and diverse audiences through this intimate form of storytelling.

Professor McHugh said while large parts of the Western world have fallen in love with podcasting during the past decade, for many nations it remained a misunderstood or underused art form.

After delivering a keynote address to the ABU conference in China in November, Professor McHugh saw overwhelming interest among these nations for delving into the world of podcasting.

“In many of these nations, such as Pakistan and Vietnam, radio is an important genre, but they have not yet realised that podcast is not just radio online, it is a different media form,” Professor McHugh said.

“Podcasting and audio storytelling often combines serious, investigative journalism with compelling personal narratives. And they need a host who is companionable and offers a sense of connection, not just a professional broadcaster,” said Professor McHugh, who was one of the producers of the award-winning podcast Phoebe’s Fall.

“Audio storytelling engages both the head and the heart. It also provides a way for people in other nations to explore culturally different ways of storytelling, and to discuss subjects that might not be able to be discussed on a radio broadcast, such as domestic violence, or sexuality.”

Under the partnership, academics from UOW will conduct workshops on audio storytelling with radio stations based throughout the Asia Pacific region, including Vietnam, Beijing, and Indonesia. They will also work with journalists on how to report on advocacy issues by developing guidelines on topics such as health, gender, and climate change. ABU and the University also plan to explore multidisciplinary research collaborations that bring in academics from across UOW.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Strategy) Brett Lovegrove said the partnership was a fantastic opportunity to bring the University’s knowledge capacity to the world.

“UOW is happy to partner with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and help share our unparalleled expertise in audio storytelling with billions of listeners throughout the world,” Mr Lovegrove said.

“The MOU will boost UOW’s international networks, increase research and teaching partnerships, and provide our students with the opportunities, through internships, to become citizens of the world. The partnership will benefit the University as a whole and further establish UOW as a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region.”

ABU’s Head of Radio and New Media, Oyla Booyar, visited the University yesterday to tour the digital media facilities based in the School of Arts, English and the Media, and sign the MOU alongside Mr Lovegrove.

Ms Booyar said the partnership would benefit both organisations, their staff, students and members at a number of levels beyond the initial area of storytelling.

“The University has expertise in several areas of 21st century journalism that broadcasters throughout the Asia-Pacific can tap into,” Ms Booyar said. “For large advanced regional broadcasters this expertise will be additional input to them growing and refining their programming. For our smaller and less well-resourced members it could mean major help in building their capacities.

“A working partnership with the University of Wollongong will be of great practical value to the organisations and to many millions of listeners and viewers.”

ABU Secretary-General Dr Javad Mottaghi said the partnership between the University and the Union was an excellent fit.

“Both the University and the ABU – through its 270-plus members – are deeply culturally diverse, both believe in excellence and both are committed to advancing media in the Asia-Pacific through mutual assistance,” he said.

“These shared philosophies and focus on practical outcomes bode well for the success of this partnership. On behalf of all our members, I congratulate the University of Wollongong on their vision and thank them for their involvement."

Pictured: Associate Professor Siobhan McHugh with Ms Olya Booyar.