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Reuters Institute Summer School on Comparative Qualitative Research on Journalism and News Media 17-18 September 2018, Oxford

Some of the most important research on journalism and news media has been based on qualitative studies, including in-depth interviews, ethnography, historical studies, textual analysis, and other qualitative methods. Such work has generated lasting empirical insights as well as many of the foundational concepts in the academic study of media and communications.

Qualitative research has, however, tended to produce insights that are less 'portable' to new research questions and contexts. Too often the impact of this kind of scholarship is limited because findings are highly specific to the case and/or country studied, because engagement with theoretical work is not explicit, or because the logic of generalisation and the standards of validity and reliability are not made clear.

These hurdles are especially pronounced in the vital emerging domain of comparative international media research. Well-designed qualitative work has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of, for example, the economic and professional forces reshaping news production today — changes that are playing out very differently in different organisations and media systems. But we have so far seen much less systematically comparative and internationally oriented qualitative research on journalism and news media than what has been pursued by, for example, researchers focused on content analysis, role perceptions, and the like.

The purpose of this two-day summer school for advanced doctoral students and early-career researchers, hosted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, is to explore the unique promise of qualitative methods for comparative scholarship in journalism and media/communications and to help the participants connect their individual projects to wider discussions in order to increase their substantive contribution and impact.

Through a combination of seminars led by Oxford-based researchers and workshop discussions of work-in-progress from the participants, the aim is to:

  1. Significantly advance our shared understanding of the methodological issues involved in advancing genuinely comparative and internationally oriented qualitative research on journalism and news media.

  2. Explicitly engage with theoretical discussions that can help structure such work and clarify its contribution (beyond describing interesting and sometimes intrinsically important cases).

  3. Help the participants think about their individual research as contributing to a collective and cumulative attempt to understand the evolution of news and journalism, and to identify potential collaborators for cross-country studies.

Seminars at the summer school will be led by Lucas Graves, Joy Jenkins, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, and Matt Powers.

All participants will be provided a reading list in advance of the seminars and asked to submit a draft article or chapter that they would like to workshop and get feedback on from the organisers and the other participants at the summer school. 

The participation fee is £149 per person, covering the summer school itself as well as lunch both days and dinner at an Oxford restaurant. The participation fee does not cover transport and accommodation (which each participant will be responsible for organising on their own). 

We will accept a maximum of 12 participants for the summer school to ensure that we have an intimate and constructive forum for discussion and that everyone receives detailed feedback on their work. We will aim for a diverse group to advance our goal of building toward more comparative, international qualitative research on journalism and news media. 

The summer school is for advanced doctoral students and early-career researchers. To apply to take part, please send a current CV and an abstract of no more than 500 words outlining the central research question, empirical basis, and driving hypotheses and intellectual stakes of the work that you would like to present, to Sarah Downey at, no later than June 15. Please direct practical questions to her, and substantive questions about the programme to Lucas Graves at

We will notify those accepted before July 15. 

What previous attendees say about the Summer School:

"Highly recommend this excellent summer school with @risj_oxford! Had the privilege to attend last year and instantly felt a sense of community, learned from smart people, and made lasting connections."

About the summer school organisers: 

Lucas Graves is Senior Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford and Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Joy Jenkins is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. 

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen is Director of Research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Professor of Political Communication in the Department of Politics at the University of Oxford. 

Matt Powers is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington.