Name: Deborah Gabriel
Research institution: Cultural and Media Studies (CCM) Research Centre, University of Salford
Research career length: 4 years
Research Council: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Location: Salford, England
Brief summary of research: Alternative media/computer mediated communication/blogging
‘O’ levels: English Language, English Literature, French, Geography, Art & Design
BA Journalism Studies, London Metropolitan University
Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education
Lifestyle reporter overseas for two years prior to starting undergraduate degree
Part-time reporter, then editor, for an online publication during degree course
Freelance research assistant and part-time lecturer
Though some researchers have known from an early age that their interests will become their career, others re-visit earlier passions in mid-career, having done other things. Deborah Gabriel combines a wealth of experience and a long-standing fascination with journalism, with a desire to teach and understand the role of blogging amongst minority ethnic groups in the UK.
There has been a growing interest in blogs as forms of personal expression, how information is shared with others and how they can be used by ‘citizen journalists’ to provide fresh information on matters of public interest. My research explores how African Caribbean people in the UK use blogs, what motivates these bloggers to do so, what satisfaction they derive from blogging and what impact their blogs have in society.
My decision to go to university happened late and was part of a radical life change. I had previously worked in international banking, but as a teenager had always been interested in journalism, which I never pursued. Starting a degree course in the subject was linked to my plan to become a journalist, having worked abroad as a lifestyle reporter two years prior to starting university. At around the same time as starting my degree, I also gained a position as a reporter for an online publication and worked my way up to editor.
The transition from journalist to academic arose out of my love for learning and a desire to teach. Working as a freelance research assistant for 18 months whilst also working as a part-time lecturer, convinced me that teaching and research was the right career path for me. My background in professional journalism and blogging informs my PhD research project on African Caribbean bloggers in the UK. I started blogging in 2008 and reviewing research on blogs, bloggers and blogging practice. I noticed that there was limited research being done on the use of blogs by ethnic minority groups, which led to my PhD research project. So my current role combines teaching with research, and is both informed and enhanced by much of my previous experience.
As a Lecturer, I teach on the journalism studies module, which means I prepare and deliver Undergraduate lectures, assess students’ work and provide student support. I also develop and lead seminars on other modules. On these modules I also have to undertake assessment of student presentations and marking essays of more than 100 students that I teach.
At the same time, I have also worked intensively on my research project, including reading research literature and developing the methods of my work. I have attended various conferences and submitted articles for academic journal publication. Within the next three months I will have presented at two conferences, one in London and one in Paris and will have completed my research, to be followed by producing a further journal article.
I am passionate about my research since I feel that it is important to investigate how people use communication technologies that play such a major part in our lives. When I finish my PhD next year, I hope to gain a full-time teaching and research post, though I would not rule out other work outside academia.