By Gabriela Sanseverino
Our ESRs try to answer the hardest question that plagues a PhD: why their research matters. And mostly, why you should care about it. Today we look at the work of Samuel Danzon-Chambaud.
There is a question that haunts every PhD, the infamous “SO WHAT?”, that often follows what they thought was a clear presentation of their research. Why your research matters is often an existential question for academics; and getting others to understand it, understand why this topic is worth working on… well, that can be one of the most dauting tasks of all.
Today, we start a series where, over the next few weeks, each ESRs tries to explain what the heck their research is all about in a way that even their nana’s could understand. And believe me, I can tell you from experience that that is not easy task. My grandma now says I do something with journalism; which is progress from “she is doing something there over there in France” (I am based at the University of Toulouse III).
Anyway, today I have the pleasure to present the research of my fellow jolter Samuel Danzom-Chambaud. Starting with him seems only right, since at the beginning at the project he was deemed ESR 1, which meant that every event he had the delightful duty to be the first one to present his research.
Canadian-born, Samuel is currently based at Dublin City University, at FuJo – The Institute for Future Media Democracy and Society. He joined the the JOLT Project in the work package New News Practices, with the hard task of finding a novel way to tackle Algorithms and News that contributed to insights in Digital Journalism. His research is looking at how digital disruption transforms journalism practices, with a focus on the way automated journalism is deployed within newsrooms.
Samuel goes to the straight point on why his research matters: “It’s the first empirical investigation that uses Bourdieu’s Field theory to look at the impacts of automated news on the work of media practitioners“. Though I am no quite sure his grandma would understand that (she is French, so it is quite possible!), fellow academics alike can recognize the originality in using Bourdieu to shed a light in to Artificial Intelligence and how it has become a part of digital journalism.
His study spans across more than 20 news organizations, and it’s also taking a deep look at how the BBC (one of the partner organizations of the project), has been using automated news, as well how they have been employed to cover the pandemic.
In a fun-fact about Sam (to remind us all that researchers are also human), he once lost his phone in Chopin’s grave at the Montmartre Cemetery during a JOLT meeting in Paris, while the ESRs took a tourism break. Thanks to the kindness of a Chinese couple that was also at the cemetery, a lot of running around and panicking, the phone was safely returned and we were able to laugh about the whole thing over much anticipated drinks at the end of day.
As ESRs, we recognize that being part of the JOLT Project is a privilege and a unique opportunity to conduct well funded research that can contribute to the field of journalism. We take this series as a chance to show why our work matters; but it is also a treasured opportunity to show that doing research is not a linear path, and though it is a full-time job, it is not all that our lives are.
This fun-facts about the Jolters that will also color this series of articles, are a reminder that, over our years in this project, JOLT contributed and changed our lives far beyond our topics of research. Collaborations became friendships, et als could be translated to besties, research events were chances to bond, commiserate and blow-off steam. We are proud to say that more than having diligently done our work for the JOLT project and, hopefully, contributed to new insights in digital and data journalism; we have also grown and mature as researchers, academics, and over all, people.