Catching Up with AnOx Alum Judith Townend

//CGCS asked current PhD student Judith Townend to write about her experiences as an Annenberg- Oxford Summer Institute participant and the impact the program had on her current research

I was thrilled to be accepted to the Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute in 2011, at the end of my first year of doctoral study at City University London. The draw for me was the international diversity of the programme – a rare opportunity to meet media and legal scholars and professionals with a range of topical and geographical backgrounds.  As my own doctoral study focuses on developments in England and Wales, it was extremely useful to discuss case studies and research projects across several continents.

The Institute enabled me to step out of my usual research world for a fortnight, think about issues more widely, and consider possibilities for future research. I learned a lot from fellow participants, some of whom I have been in touch with since the Institute, and I hope to work with them again in the future. It influenced the shape of my doctoral project, as we heard about a range of methodological approaches and theoretical analyses, as well as a variety of research-based collaborations.

The Institute motivated me to make the most of my PhD years, and to participate and develop a range of projects and events. For example, I have since co-ordinated an initiative at City University London, ‘Open Justice in the Digital Era’, which has brought together a number of journalists, academics, and researchers to discuss legal and ethical issues in the 21st Century with the aim of forming practical recommendations for the courts service and judiciary.

A visit to Ofcom during the Summer Institute proved particularly useful for me. We heard from a number of speakers, but I was particularly interested in some research around hyperlocal media conducted by Damian Radcliffe, who was then managing policy around Nations and Communities at the regulator. He and I have since swapped ideas, and he has kindly contributed content to my blog. Through him, I made a number of useful contacts in the area, of direct benefit to my work. As a result I participated in another media conference this January, at which I was able to gather useful research material.

It was the Institute’s global perspective that I found most valuable – the chance to consider media regulatory and legal issues across a number of jurisdictions. In the future, I would like to pursue comparative socio-legal and media research, and collaborate and work internationally: the Institute has given me the confidence to pursue those types of opportunities.



//Judith Townend is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, City University London, where her doctoral project concerns defamation and privacy in England and Wales. She co-ordinates the ‘Open Justice in the Digital Era’ initiative and blogs at Meeja Law. She can be found on Twitter: @jtownend.

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