Does reality really bite? Between academia and ‘The Real World’: an interview with Jane Roscoe

Huijser, Hendrik (2006) Does reality really bite? Between academia and ‘The Real World’: an interview with Jane Roscoe. M/C Journal, 1 (1). ISSN 1441-2616

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Dr Jane Roscoe is currently Programme Executive at SBS Television in Australia. She started her career as an academic in London with a fondness for theory. During her time at The University of Waikato in Aotearoa, she became drawn to empirical research, and in particular audience research, in combination with an ongoing interest in documentary. She published numerous journal articles and authored two books on documentary: Documentary in New Zealand: An Immigrant Nation (1999) and (with Craig Hight) Faking It: Mock-Documentary and the Subversion of Factuality (2001). She moved to Griffith University in 2000, and quickly became an influential intellectual presence in the field of Media and Cultural Studies in Australia. Her article Big Brother Australia: Performing the Real Twenty Four Seven in The International Journal of Cultural Studies is still the most cited article of that journal five years on. However, it is not only her academic work that gives her presence importance, but also her tireless commitment to move her ideas beyond the academic context. She frequently appears on both radio and television, and in 2001 she was the first media academic to appear on Big Brother Australia. In short, she is the embodiment of the public intellectual. After two years at Griffith, Jane moved out of the academy to become Head of the Centre for Screen Studies and Research at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. She has been a programmer at SBS since 2005.
Given Janes eclectic background, this interview will explore a number of main themes. Firstly, it will provide a rare insight into the decision making processes about television content and scheduling at the unique public broadcaster that is SBS. Secondly, Jane discusses her ideas and theoretical reflections on documentary as a genre and the influences of reality television. She is a passionate defender of both popular culture and innovation in television, with a particular focus on mock documentary and reality television. Related to her role as a public intellectual is the strong belief that Australia needs a television culture because only then can television be taken seriously as an art form and an important part of the public sphere. The overarching theme is the often challenging but potentially highly productive blending of theory and practice, as the title of this interview suggests.
This interview was conducted in May 2006 in Brisbane. Jane was in town to deliver the annual Henry Mayer Lecture at The University of Queensland, entitled Making Great Television: When Theory Met Practice.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: See for more information about peer review process.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Learning and Teaching Support Unit
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Learning and Teaching Support Unit
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 00:36
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2011 06:40
Uncontrolled Keywords: television culture, reality television, documentary, public intellectuals
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200212 Screen and Media Culture
Fields of Research (2020): 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4702 Cultural studies > 470214 Screen and media culture

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