Research for
Journalists’ Freedom

Research is central to what we do. We don’t want to just issue comments on media freedom issues. We want to make sure that our contributions to public debate and policy-making are underpinned by empirical research. That way, you will know that whatever statements we make will be well informed, accurate and up to date.

That is why the AJF has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Queensland – one of the world’s top-100 academic institutions – to develop a research program. Whether it is keeping track of long-term trends in the industry, the changing relationship between media and society, or the likely impact of a proposed piece of legislation, our research agenda will make sure that the AJF is the region’s most authoritative voice when it comes to questions of media freedom, journalists safety, and so on.

Research for
Journalists’ Freedom

Research is central to what we do. We don’t want to just issue comments on media freedom issues. We want to make sure that our contributions to public debate and policy-making are underpinned by empirical research. That way, you will know that whatever statements we make will be well informed, accurate and up to date.

That is why the AJF has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Queensland – one of the world’s top-100 academic institutions – to develop a research program. Whether it is keeping track of long-term trends in the industry, the changing relationship between media and society, or the likely impact of a proposed piece of legislation, our research agenda will make sure that the AJF is the region’s most authoritative voice when it comes to questions of media freedom, journalists safety, and so on.

Why we research

Anybody can have an opinion. They are easy things to come up with, and in a world awash with comments across social media, talk is cheap. But that doesn’t mean every opinion is equally valid, or even founded on a solid basis of fact.

That is why, when one of our founders Peter Greste was offered a job with the University of Queensland as its “UNESCO Chair in Journalism and Communication”, we realized we had a unique opportunity. UQ is one of the world’s top academic institutions for research, so it made sense to develop a Memorandum of Understanding that would allow us to work closely together to study the kinds of issues we are concerned with.

Under the MoU, both UQ and the AJF remain completely independent. We, as an activist organization with a very explicit mandate to protect journalists’ freedom, need to maintain the freedom to advocate. But the university’s integrity and reputation depend on it being able to produce research that is genuinely independent of any particular interests, including ours. So, we have agreed to remain as autonomous institutions, while cooperating on the big questions we are both interested in.

The AJF’s strategy is to work with both leading industry figures and academics to develop the kinds of questions that researchers are able to study. Some will be long-term projects, monitoring the trends around media freedom over time. Others will be more focussed topics, perhaps looking at the effect of a particular piece of legislation on the work of the media.

Then, we will work out the best way to finance that work, whether it is through traditional research grants, or donations from benefactors, always making sure that we protect the independence and integrity of the research work its self.

Once the studies have been completed, we will use that work as the basis for our contributions to public debates, whether they are informal news releases and newspaper articles, or formal submissions to policy makers.

The point is to make sure we protect our credibility, our authority, and our independence so that whatever we say is taken seriously.