TJ Thomson
Medal recipient, Dr TJ Thomson

ADM+S researcher awarded 2023 Max Crawford Medal

Authors  Natalie Campbell and Dr TJ Thomson
Date 7 August 2023

Congratulations to Dr TJ Thomson from RMIT, who has been awarded the 2023 Max Crawford Medal, Australia’s most prestigious award for achievement and promise in the humanities.

On 7 August the Australian Academy of the Humanities, one of Australia’s four learned academies, announced Dr TJ Thomson, Senior Lecturer & DECRA Fellow at RMIT and ADM+S Affiliate, as the winner of the 2023 Medal.

Sitting at the intersection of visual communication and journalism studies, Dr Thomson’s research helps people understand the media they consume and encourages them to consider where it comes from, who is making it and how it’s made or edited.

“Having a more elevated sense of media literacy and engaging with trusted quality news sources helps people to be more engaged in society. Journalism is a place of public debate, exchange and conversation,’ Dr Thomson explains.

“If you’re not connecting to the media, you’re missing out on that whole conversation. And public institutions and organisations involved in that debate are also missing out on your voice and participation in that debate.”

Through a range of engagements, including a major campaign calling on people to check their media facts in partnership with the Australian Associated Press and Facebook, TJ helps Australians identify misinformation (things that are untrue or lacking context) and disinformation (claims that are intended to deceive) online.

He is also part of a ARC-funded grant that uses media literacy to try to combat misinformation in partnership with the ABC, National Film and Sound Archive, Museum of Australian Democracy and the Australian Library and Information Association.

Professor John Griffiths, the Awards Committee Chair of the Max Crawford Medal, commented, “TJ’s work excels in the criteria that define the Max Crawford medal. He is goal focussed, his work has quality and impact, and has clear implications concerning the enrichment of cultural life.

In the selection process, his nomination was seen as compelling, and he was described as a ‘brilliant scholar conducting an exemplary career.’”

The unique intersection of Dr Thomson’s research and his background in photojournalism is highly relevant alongside the rising use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) to develop images. His recent study What Does a Journalist Look like? Visualizing Journalistic Roles through AI focuses on the potentials and perils of generative visual AI, a topic that ties in with the theme of this year’s Annual Academy Symposium, which is being co-convened by ADM+S director Prof Julian Thomas, and associate director Prof Jean Burgess.

“The humanities play a foundational role in helping societies solve complex problems and in enabling people to engage with, understand, appreciate, and learn from culture. I’m grateful for the Academy’s work to champion initiatives and individuals who strengthen Australian society and deepen its understanding of its culture,” said Dr Thomson.

Dr Thomson will be presented with the medal during the 54th Annual Academy of the Humanities Symposium, held in Melbourne on 16-17 November 2023.


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