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December 1, 2015

by Leah Hansen

The Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) highlighted the research of its faculty members Nov. 4 with Rubix, where researchers displayed their work and discussed it with members of the students, fellow faculty members, and members of the community.

The event was kicked off with remarks from Ryerson’s acting president Mohamed Lachemi, as well as Charles Falzon, the chair of FCAD.

“Never has society more than now, needed its cultural industries promoted, reinvented and explored,” Falzon said. “What we’re doing is really important. It’s our time to lead in the creative industries.”

Several Ryerson School of Journalism professors displayed projects and research at the event, including Asmaa Malik, April Lindgren, Gavin Adamson and chair Ivor Shapiro.

Adamson’s work, a video and documentary filmmaking project, aims to bring together people who have formerly had experiences with severe mental illness. The project puts the camera into their hands, says Adamson, and the films about their experiences are shot, edited and produced entirely by them.

“The overall research objective is to try to reduce stigma and help recovery for people who’ve experienced debilitating mental illness,” he said.

As the journalism researcher on the project, Adamson, an assistant professor in the school of journalism, says that his role is to compare the content of the subjects’ documentaries with the coverage of mental illness in traditional mass media.

Twenty subjects are currently involved in the project and shooting their films in recovery centres in Montreal, Halifax and Toronto. Once the films are finished, they’ll be screened for audiences including health care professionals, students and the general public, with the possibility of wider distribution to recovery centres around the world, Adamson said.

Lindgren, an associate professor in the School of Journalism, is focusing on a concept she calls “local news poverty,” or the lack of local media in small towns across Canada.

“I was thinking about suburban communities around Toronto, like Oakville and Brampton for instance, that don’t have a daily newspaper, that don’t have any radio stations, they doesn’t have a tv stations, what do they do for news?” she said. “The idea is to get a visual representation and some sense of what’s going on across the country in terms of the patterns of closures and openings.”

Her research will eventually be amalgamated into an interactive map, with the option for members of the public to contribute information when another news outlet is lost in a small community.

Malik, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism, is authoring a paper that focuses on the role of social media in shaping how members of diaspora groups share news.

“It used to be you left you homeland and you’re part of your new, adopted country and the ties between the homeland and the adopted country used to be a lot slower, a lot harder to keep connected,” Malik said. “Now it’s all real-time, so what once felt so far away is really now so close.”

Malik used the 2014 Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar as an example of how members of the Pakistani diaspora reacted online and shared information in real time. The eventual goal is to publish the results of her research in a paper entitled A Transnational Moment, she says, but added that she’d like to include interviews with members of diaspora groups and further exploration of social media channels before she gets to that point.

Ivor Shapiro, chair of the Ryerson School of Journalism, presented research as well, showcasing a study meant to investigate the identities and attitudes of Canadian journalists.

The study will seek to discover what journalists see as their professional identity, said Shapiro, determining where they place themselves on spectrums of activism, independence and ethical engagement.

The research is the first of its kind to take place since 1990.

leah.hansen@ryerson.ca