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Overview


McHugh's research examines how podcasting, a distinctive and rapidly evolving media format, can extend the impact and reach of journalism. She focuses particularly on the aesthetics of crafted storytelling and narrative news podcasts. Her research is also concerned with the affective power of sound, the production of intimacy and the transformations of voice achieved when oral history and journalism are creatively adapted for an aural format. She is Founding Editor of RadioDoc Review, an open access journal that brings together scholars, practitioners and industry figures to develop in-depth critical analysis of the audio documentary/feature form, now disseminated as podcast.

McHugh's practice-based Non-Traditional Research Outputs (NTROs), major creative works produced as radio documentaries and podcasts, have had significant impact, including four gold awards at New York Radio Festival. One was for this episode of Heart of Artness, a podcast outcome of an ARC Discovery project which uses oral history and aurality to examine Aboriginal art from the transcultural perspectives of its producers. Others were for investigative journalism podcasts co-produced with The Age newsroom in Melbourne, Wrong Skin (2018) and Phoebe's Fall (2016). Another innovative practice-based project has been her role as consulting producer on the podcast Gertie's Law, an initiative of the Supreme Court of Victoria that seeks to make court processes transparent and features unprecedented interviews with top Australian judges about their role. Her latest collaboration with The Age is The Last Voyage of the Pong Su (2019), a geopolitical investigation involving a drug heist by North Korea on Australia's shipwreck coast.

McHugh teaches and researches podcasting in a variety of settings, including at international gatherings such as the Global Editors Network, and in collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, whose members broadcast to around half the world. Her current research seeks to develop a model to use podcasting as a tool of social inclusion, to develop empathy for and understanding of marginalised voices.

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • McHugh is examining transformations in journalism wrought by the rise of podcasting, including in China, where McHugh is tracking cultural difference. Major media organisations from the New York Times (whose The Daily podcast has two million listeners) to the ABC, BBC, NPR and CBC are adapting content to take advantage of the intimacy and reach of the podcast format. McHugh has identified four major podcast formats that can extend the reach of journalism, and primarily conducts practice-based and practice-led research in the crafted audio storytelling form. She has made an ethnographic study of the transformations of a major Australian newsroom, The Age, that occurred in the making of the successful podcasts Phoebe's Fall (2016) and Wrong Skin (2018), on which McHugh was consulting producer. She is also piloting a Hub for Innovation in Podcasting (HIP), a proposed one-stop shop that will teach, research, produce and curate podcasts from the academic, institutional and community sectors. To this end she has engaged as an invited expert with the Committee to Protect Journalists (US), Rutas del Conflicto (Colombia), the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), the Australian War Memorial and the Oral History Association of Australia. HIP was shortlisted through two rounds of the Walkley Media Incubator and Innovation Fund in 2017.


    Dr McHugh is second CI on an ARC Discovery Grant, A New Theory of Aboriginal Art, led by art historian Ian McLean. The project Partner Investigator is Margo Neale, Senior Indigenous Curator at the National Museum of Australia and curator of their major exhibition, Songlines: Tracking The Seven Sisters. This ARC project (2015-18) investigates the significant cross-cultural relationships that inform the production of Aboriginal art. Aboriginal art has not gained access to the lucrative international art market because it is not being seen as relevant to contemporary art. Our aim is to re-evaluate Aboriginal art practices from the contemporary art perspective of relational art and transculturalism and thereby revive an industry that while well established currently lacks ideas to take full advantage of the global art world economy.

    Our focus is on two remote Aboriginal communities, the Buku-Larrnyggay Mulka art centre in Yirrkala in North-East Arnhem Land and Warlukurlangu centre in Yuendemu, c. 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs. We will also examine the urban Indigenous art movement, Proppa Now, in Brisbane. McHugh has recorded 35 oral history interviews with Indigenous artists, art centre staff, gallerists, curators and others, and archival research has been undertaken on location. The oral histories will be preserved as a research collection and were drawn on by McHugh as an aural resource to make (1) a high-impact, accessible radio documentary commissioned by ABC Radio National, The Conquistador, The Warlpiri and the Dog Whisperer (2) an award winning podcast series, Heart of Artness. McLean, McHugh, and Neale will also co-author scholarly articles on their innovative collaboration and present at AAANZ Conference (2018) and OHAA Conference (Oct 2019).

Available as Research Supervisor

Selected Publications


  • Journal Article

    Year Title
    2018

    Published In
    The Conversation
    Volume
    10July
    Pages
    1 - 3
    2017

    Published In
    The Conversation
    Volume
    31 August
    Pages
    1 - 3
    2017

    Published In
    The Conversation
    Volume
    27 April
    Pages
    1 - 3
     
     
    2016

    Published In
    The Radio Journal: international studies in broadcast and audio media
    Volume
    14
    Pages
    65 - 82
    ISSN
    2040-1388
     
    2016

    Published In
    The Conversation
    Volume
    4 July
    Pages
    1 - 3
     
    2014

    Published In
    Asia Pacific Media Educator
    Volume
    24
    Pages
    141 - 156
    ISSN
    1326-365X
     
    2014

    Published In
    Australian Journalism Review
    Volume
    36
    Pages
    23 - 35
    ISSN
    0810-2686
     
     
     
    2012

    Published In
    The Radio Journal: international studies in broadcast and audio media
    Volume
    10
    Pages
    35 - 50
    ISSN
    2040-1388
    2012

    Published In
    Oral History Review
    Volume
    39
    Pages
    187 - 206
    ISSN
    0094-0798
     
     
     
    2009

    Published In
    History Australia
    Volume
    6
    Pages
    42.1 - 42.22
    ISSN
    1449-0854
    2007

    Published In
    Asia Pacific Media Educator
    Volume
    December
    Pages
    147 - 154
    ISSN
    1326-365X
  • Book

    Year Title
     
  • Chapter

    Year Title
    2018

    Published In
    Mediating Memory: Tracing the Limits of Memoir
    Publisher
    United Kingdom: Routledge
    Pages
    104 - 122
    ISBN
    978-1138092723
    2016

    Published In
    The Oral History Reader
    Publisher
    Oxford and New York: Routledge
    Pages
    490 - 507
    ISBN
    9780415707336
     
  • Audio-visual Document

    Year Title
    2016

    Publisher
    Fairfax Media
    External URL
    2013

    Publisher
    360 Documentaries program - ABC Radio National, 12 April
    2009

    Publisher
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation
    2009

    Publisher
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • Other

    Year Title
     

Impact Story


  • <p><a href="http://www.theage.com.au/interactive/2016/phoebesfall/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Phoebe’s Fall</em> </a>is a six-episode podcast that examines the bizarre death in 2010 of a young Melbourne woman, Phoebe Handsjuk, in a garbage chute, and the botched police investigation that followed. It was produced by a team at Fairfax Media and consulting producer Dr Siobhan McHugh and published in September/October 2016. Through in-depth interviews with Phoebe’s family and friends, and with legal, forensic and criminological experts, the series presents a compelling analysis of the circumstances surrounding Phoebe’s death and questions aspects of police procedures and of the coronial inquest that followed.</p><p>The podcast attracted considerable attention. When published on 22 September 2016 on the Apple platform ITunes, it went straight to the Number One position on the iTunes Chart, deposing the American podcast, <em>Serial, </em>which is the most successful podcast of all time. It remained at Number One throughout most of its six-week run and has accrued over 1.3 million downloads.</p><p>At a politico-legal level, the podcast caused questions to be raised in the Victorian parliament about the coronial inquest and triggered a review of the Victorian Coroner’s Act. In December 2016, the Victorian government commissioned the review, to be conducted by the Coronial Council, made up of the State Coroner, senior academics, top legal experts and the chief commissioner of police. The review will consider whether existing options for appealing or reopening coronial investigations are working appropriately. Its report is due in November 2017. The potential public benefit of this review is significant: under the current law, a coroner's finding can only be challenged if a perverse error of law has been made. A coroner cannot be challenged for misinterpreting a fact or ignoring evidence. This makes it very difficult for people to appeal against a finding.</p><p>The review came amid public concern surrounding the coroner’s finding that Phoebe Handsjuk's death was the result of a ‘tragic accident’. The <em>Phoebe’s Fall</em> podcast cited experts who believed that there was not enough evidence to rule out suicide, murder or accidental death. It also pointed out that the coroner had ignored the advice of his own senior counsel. Such was the public impact of the podcast that the family of Ms Handsjuk were approached by members of the public who wished to raise funds to enable the family to appeal the coroner‘s finding.</p><p><em>Phoebe’s Fall</em> was conducted as an ‘action research’ project, whereby consulting producers Siobhan McHugh and Julie Posetti, Head of Digital Transformation at Fairfax Media and a UOW Research Fellow, studied the way in which, under their guidance, two veteran print journalists (Richard Baker and Michael Bachelard) with no experience of working in audio made the transition to podcast hosts. Posetti and McHugh applied the theory of effective audio storytelling to the podcast, harnessing signature qualities of the audio medium such as intimacy and the ability to convey emotion, in order to maximise impact. The podcast’s impact was further demonstrated when it won four prestigious podcasting awards: three national and one <a href="http://www.theage.com.au/national/investigations/phoebes-fall-podcast-wins-gold-award-at-new-york-radio-festival-20170619-gwucgh.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">international</a>.</p>

Available as Research Supervisor

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Podcasting as a new media genre

    Narrative analysis of crafted audio storytelling formats

    Topics that use oral history as a theoretical framework and/or methodology

    The aesthetics of audio storytelling

    Practice-based and practice-led journalism research

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Transnational subjectivity in Australian Women's Fiction/Writing with intertexts: Aesthetic Reflections Pike, Deborah
    Doctor of Creative Arts Studio Of The Four Winds: The Adventurous Artist Turnbull, Sarah
    Doctor of Creative Arts Konfrontasi: The Untold Experiences f Australian Soldiers and their Families in a Forgotten War Novel: "Konfrontasi' Stevenson, Kylie
    Doctor of Philosophy Immersion, Affect and Memorability: Theorising Sound Design in Locative Audio for Transformative Experiences St Clair, Jeanti
    Doctor of Philosophy Female video journalists reporting conflict: An arduous path? Pedro Sole, Lidia

Teaching Overview


  • I teach undergraduates narrative journalism, podcasting, audio storytelling, radio broadcasting, feature writing and in-depth interviewing.

    My teaching is enriched by the incorporation of my practice-based research and my ongoing engagement in journalism. I seek to actively involve students and graduates in my journalistic projects, such as the podcast Phoebe's Fall, as described here: http://stand.uow.edu.au/phoebes-fall-and-the-power-of-a-podcast/

    I have also run invited masterclasses in podcasting for organisations such as the Australian War Memorial, the Oral History Association of Australia and the Global Editors Network.

Keywords


  • Audio storytelling, oral history, podcasting, radio documentary, affect, emotions

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • McHugh is examining transformations in journalism wrought by the rise of podcasting, including in China, where McHugh is tracking cultural difference. Major media organisations from the New York Times (whose The Daily podcast has two million listeners) to the ABC, BBC, NPR and CBC are adapting content to take advantage of the intimacy and reach of the podcast format. McHugh has identified four major podcast formats that can extend the reach of journalism, and primarily conducts practice-based and practice-led research in the crafted audio storytelling form. She has made an ethnographic study of the transformations of a major Australian newsroom, The Age, that occurred in the making of the successful podcasts Phoebe's Fall (2016) and Wrong Skin (2018), on which McHugh was consulting producer. She is also piloting a Hub for Innovation in Podcasting (HIP), a proposed one-stop shop that will teach, research, produce and curate podcasts from the academic, institutional and community sectors. To this end she has engaged as an invited expert with the Committee to Protect Journalists (US), Rutas del Conflicto (Colombia), the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), the Australian War Memorial and the Oral History Association of Australia. HIP was shortlisted through two rounds of the Walkley Media Incubator and Innovation Fund in 2017.


    Dr McHugh is second CI on an ARC Discovery Grant, A New Theory of Aboriginal Art, led by art historian Ian McLean. The project Partner Investigator is Margo Neale, Senior Indigenous Curator at the National Museum of Australia and curator of their major exhibition, Songlines: Tracking The Seven Sisters. This ARC project (2015-18) investigates the significant cross-cultural relationships that inform the production of Aboriginal art. Aboriginal art has not gained access to the lucrative international art market because it is not being seen as relevant to contemporary art. Our aim is to re-evaluate Aboriginal art practices from the contemporary art perspective of relational art and transculturalism and thereby revive an industry that while well established currently lacks ideas to take full advantage of the global art world economy.

    Our focus is on two remote Aboriginal communities, the Buku-Larrnyggay Mulka art centre in Yirrkala in North-East Arnhem Land and Warlukurlangu centre in Yuendemu, c. 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs. We will also examine the urban Indigenous art movement, Proppa Now, in Brisbane. McHugh has recorded 35 oral history interviews with Indigenous artists, art centre staff, gallerists, curators and others, and archival research has been undertaken on location. The oral histories will be preserved as a research collection and were drawn on by McHugh as an aural resource to make (1) a high-impact, accessible radio documentary commissioned by ABC Radio National, The Conquistador, The Warlpiri and the Dog Whisperer (2) an award winning podcast series, Heart of Artness. McLean, McHugh, and Neale will also co-author scholarly articles on their innovative collaboration and present at AAANZ Conference (2018) and OHAA Conference (Oct 2019).

Selected Publications


  • Journal Article

    Year Title
    2018

    Published In
    The Conversation
    Volume
    10July
    Pages
    1 - 3
    2017

    Published In
    The Conversation
    Volume
    31 August
    Pages
    1 - 3
    2017

    Published In
    The Conversation
    Volume
    27 April
    Pages
    1 - 3
     
     
    2016

    Published In
    The Radio Journal: international studies in broadcast and audio media
    Volume
    14
    Pages
    65 - 82
    ISSN
    2040-1388
     
    2016

    Published In
    The Conversation
    Volume
    4 July
    Pages
    1 - 3
     
    2014

    Published In
    Asia Pacific Media Educator
    Volume
    24
    Pages
    141 - 156
    ISSN
    1326-365X
     
    2014

    Published In
    Australian Journalism Review
    Volume
    36
    Pages
    23 - 35
    ISSN
    0810-2686
     
     
     
    2012

    Published In
    The Radio Journal: international studies in broadcast and audio media
    Volume
    10
    Pages
    35 - 50
    ISSN
    2040-1388
    2012

    Published In
    Oral History Review
    Volume
    39
    Pages
    187 - 206
    ISSN
    0094-0798
     
     
     
    2009

    Published In
    History Australia
    Volume
    6
    Pages
    42.1 - 42.22
    ISSN
    1449-0854
    2007

    Published In
    Asia Pacific Media Educator
    Volume
    December
    Pages
    147 - 154
    ISSN
    1326-365X
  • Book

    Year Title
     
  • Chapter

    Year Title
    2018

    Published In
    Mediating Memory: Tracing the Limits of Memoir
    Publisher
    United Kingdom: Routledge
    Pages
    104 - 122
    ISBN
    978-1138092723
    2016

    Published In
    The Oral History Reader
    Publisher
    Oxford and New York: Routledge
    Pages
    490 - 507
    ISBN
    9780415707336
     
  • Audio-visual Document

    Year Title
    2016

    Publisher
    Fairfax Media
    External URL
    2013

    Publisher
    360 Documentaries program - ABC Radio National, 12 April
    2009

    Publisher
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation
    2009

    Publisher
    Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • Other

    Year Title
     

Impact Story


  • <p><a href="http://www.theage.com.au/interactive/2016/phoebesfall/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Phoebe’s Fall</em> </a>is a six-episode podcast that examines the bizarre death in 2010 of a young Melbourne woman, Phoebe Handsjuk, in a garbage chute, and the botched police investigation that followed. It was produced by a team at Fairfax Media and consulting producer Dr Siobhan McHugh and published in September/October 2016. Through in-depth interviews with Phoebe’s family and friends, and with legal, forensic and criminological experts, the series presents a compelling analysis of the circumstances surrounding Phoebe’s death and questions aspects of police procedures and of the coronial inquest that followed.</p><p>The podcast attracted considerable attention. When published on 22 September 2016 on the Apple platform ITunes, it went straight to the Number One position on the iTunes Chart, deposing the American podcast, <em>Serial, </em>which is the most successful podcast of all time. It remained at Number One throughout most of its six-week run and has accrued over 1.3 million downloads.</p><p>At a politico-legal level, the podcast caused questions to be raised in the Victorian parliament about the coronial inquest and triggered a review of the Victorian Coroner’s Act. In December 2016, the Victorian government commissioned the review, to be conducted by the Coronial Council, made up of the State Coroner, senior academics, top legal experts and the chief commissioner of police. The review will consider whether existing options for appealing or reopening coronial investigations are working appropriately. Its report is due in November 2017. The potential public benefit of this review is significant: under the current law, a coroner's finding can only be challenged if a perverse error of law has been made. A coroner cannot be challenged for misinterpreting a fact or ignoring evidence. This makes it very difficult for people to appeal against a finding.</p><p>The review came amid public concern surrounding the coroner’s finding that Phoebe Handsjuk's death was the result of a ‘tragic accident’. The <em>Phoebe’s Fall</em> podcast cited experts who believed that there was not enough evidence to rule out suicide, murder or accidental death. It also pointed out that the coroner had ignored the advice of his own senior counsel. Such was the public impact of the podcast that the family of Ms Handsjuk were approached by members of the public who wished to raise funds to enable the family to appeal the coroner‘s finding.</p><p><em>Phoebe’s Fall</em> was conducted as an ‘action research’ project, whereby consulting producers Siobhan McHugh and Julie Posetti, Head of Digital Transformation at Fairfax Media and a UOW Research Fellow, studied the way in which, under their guidance, two veteran print journalists (Richard Baker and Michael Bachelard) with no experience of working in audio made the transition to podcast hosts. Posetti and McHugh applied the theory of effective audio storytelling to the podcast, harnessing signature qualities of the audio medium such as intimacy and the ability to convey emotion, in order to maximise impact. The podcast’s impact was further demonstrated when it won four prestigious podcasting awards: three national and one <a href="http://www.theage.com.au/national/investigations/phoebes-fall-podcast-wins-gold-award-at-new-york-radio-festival-20170619-gwucgh.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">international</a>.</p>

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Podcasting as a new media genre

    Narrative analysis of crafted audio storytelling formats

    Topics that use oral history as a theoretical framework and/or methodology

    The aesthetics of audio storytelling

    Practice-based and practice-led journalism research

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Transnational subjectivity in Australian Women's Fiction/Writing with intertexts: Aesthetic Reflections Pike, Deborah
    Doctor of Creative Arts Studio Of The Four Winds: The Adventurous Artist Turnbull, Sarah
    Doctor of Creative Arts Konfrontasi: The Untold Experiences f Australian Soldiers and their Families in a Forgotten War Novel: "Konfrontasi' Stevenson, Kylie
    Doctor of Philosophy Immersion, Affect and Memorability: Theorising Sound Design in Locative Audio for Transformative Experiences St Clair, Jeanti
    Doctor of Philosophy Female video journalists reporting conflict: An arduous path? Pedro Sole, Lidia

Teaching Overview


  • I teach undergraduates narrative journalism, podcasting, audio storytelling, radio broadcasting, feature writing and in-depth interviewing.

    My teaching is enriched by the incorporation of my practice-based research and my ongoing engagement in journalism. I seek to actively involve students and graduates in my journalistic projects, such as the podcast Phoebe's Fall, as described here: http://stand.uow.edu.au/phoebes-fall-and-the-power-of-a-podcast/

    I have also run invited masterclasses in podcasting for organisations such as the Australian War Memorial, the Oral History Association of Australia and the Global Editors Network.

Keywords


  • Audio storytelling, oral history, podcasting, radio documentary, affect, emotions
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