Tanja graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy (Arts) in Media and Communications from the University of Melbourne in 2013.
Tanja’s role was created for an EBU initiative – The Public Service Media Contribution to Society Project – which aims to expand the role of public service media to focus on delivering societal value.
‘My role within the project is to help public service media organisations design impact measurement and communication strategies that will better demonstrate the value they deliver to society.’
Central to Tanja’s work is the challenge of connecting the world of practice with the world of research. She comments that, because a lot of research reports are written in a language not everyone understands, there’s an important role for ‘mediators’ who can ask and answer questions about the meaning of the research for practitioners. ‘I summarise and translate relevant research to make it accessible for journalists, for audience researchers, for strategy – at the same time being critical so that what I come up with is not only interesting but relevant and actionable.’
Tanja’s role involves sharing these insights in a variety of ways: managing social media groups to facilitate knowledge exchange, producing research documents, developing guidelines. Above and beyond this, her role is to provide inspiration and advocacy for a new mindset for public service media which focuses on their contribution to society.
Tanja’s career thinking as she neared PhD completion was to work in audience and market research; she had no plans to become an academic. But the future had something more specific in store.
The combination of Tanja’s industry experience and PhD research on public service media meant that she was well placed to secure her role with the EBU. ‘A priority for them was to have someone who had specific knowledge of public service media, and that’s where my PhD came in. I was able to apply my practical skills in this specific theoretical area.’
Tanja comments that her ‘visionary supervisor’ was key to the way her PhD research evolved and its relevance to contemporary issues in public service media. ‘My supervisor pushed me to look at high level theory, to come to grips with digitisation and globalisation, and critically, to always be asking what does this actually mean? It was painful in the beginning, a real challenge for someone coming from industry. She pushed me but she was confident in me.’
‘My current role has much in common with working on my doctorate. It’s about developing a framework. There are lots of different concepts around and I need to consider what would work for public service media and develop and adapt these to build the framework. It is a conceptually complex task and that’s what you do in a PhD. The PhD experience gave me the confidence to approach unknown territory.’