T.J. Thomson

T.J. Thomson

Lecturer/Assistant Professor

at Queensland University of Technology

Degree(s):
MA '15, PhD '18
Whereabouts:
Australia

What do you do?
I am a lecturer (equivalent to assistant professor in the U.S. system) in digital journalism and professional communication in the School of Communication, Creative Industries Faculty, at the Queensland University of Technology. QUT is a public research university with nearly 50,000 students and is ranked among the top two percent of universities worldwide. Its School of Communication enrolls more than 2,000 undergraduates, 80 Ph.D. students, and is a top-25 program globally in communication and media studies, according to the 2017 QS World University Rankings. I am also a core member of the university’s Digital Media Research Center, which conducts world-leading research for a creative, inclusive and fair digital media environment. As a visual communication scholar within the multidisciplinary institution of communication, I study the visual aspects of mediated communication systems, such as journalism and social media, and the sense-making practices of actors within them. Relationships, such as those between imager and imaged, intrigue me as do self-representations in networked media contexts. To study these empirical questions, I draw on scholarship from social psychology, sociology, and visual studies through primarily qualitative approaches.

What is the best professional lesson you learned at the J-School?
My time at the Missouri School of Journalism taught me the value of human connection and collaboration. Our ability to accomplish any goal is greatly enhanced by the diverse experiences, skills, and ideas that teams and colleagues can provide and Mizzou instilled this appreciation in me.

What advice do you have for current students?
Explore campus. Try to visit every building on its more than 1,200 acres. Meet people. Expand your worldview. Spend time with people who live and/or look differently than you. Be reflexive, humble, and grounded. Cultivate a community that can support, challenge, inspire, and motivate you.

What is your favorite J-School memory?
I have two. The first was my initial time on campus. I hadn’t stepped foot on the Mizzou campus, much less visited Missouri, before arriving in Columbia in August 2013 to pursue a master’s degree in photojournalism. I still vividly remember my first night there, though. My parents and I arrived after dark following a full day’s drive but we still managed to stumble onto campus and stood transfixed for a good many minutes under Jesse’s stately glow. The history and traditions on the quad and the adjacent School of Journalism were simply awe-inspiring to behold. The second memory was standing outside Gannett Hall in March 2015 talking on the phone with then-Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research Esther Thorson, who had called to let me know my application into the School’s Ph.D. program had been accepted and to invite me to pursue doctoral studies there. Our conversation was brief but I was elated at receiving the news she relayed. I made a call of my own shortly after and let my parents know the news and the potential for staying on at Missouri for another three years.

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