Earning a bachelor’s degree in Communication at Chadron State College was a formative step for 2013 graduate T.J Thomson, and a stepping stone to an academic career that has recently been recognized with an international award for research on communication and journalism.
“It was (at CSC) where I gained an appreciation for tight writing, where I received countless opportunities to hone my photography and design skills while working on The Eagle, and where thoughtful, patient, and generous professors inspired, motivated, and shaped me into the person I am today,” Thomson said.
The Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) and the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) named Thomson in early July as the recipient of the 2019 Anne Dunn Scholar of the Year Award.
“The support and advocacy I received at CSC placed me on a fantastic trajectory where I now work alongside academics at the best School of Communication in the country and the top 16th worldwide,” said Thomson, now a teacher and researcher at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia
Thomson is the sixth recipient of the award, which was established in 2014 to honor the memory of respected Australian broadcaster, journalist, and media scholar Anne Dunn. It recognizes excellence in academic research on communication and journalism and carries a $3,000 (Australian) prize.
After completing his bachelor’s degree at Chadron State, Thomson, a Golden, Colorado native, completed an M.A. and Ph.D at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He worked as a freelance visual journalist and designer before taking his position at QUT.
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At CSC Thomson led The Eagle student newspaper to win numerous Nebraska Collegiate Media Awards, and was named the Great Plains Student Photographer of the Year in 2013. He was also active in CSC’s student government and a member of Blue Key honorary society.
Thomson began working as a lecturer in visual media at the QUT School of Communication and Digital Media Research Centre in June 2018. His research examines how visual media are produced, organized, represented, and interpreted in journalistic and digital arenas. He has published articles on how people behave in front of news cameras, how visual journalists manage the emotional side of their profession, and how visual and verbal journalistic stories compare. He was co-author of a study focused on the types of news images that draw engagement on Instagram that generated media attention from news outlets around the world.
Thomson is also the author of a soon-to-be-released book on how visual journalism is produced, with a focus on the impact of environments where images are made, the interaction between photographer and subject and their reaction to the representations that are created. The book, from publisher Rowman & Littlefield, is titled: “To See and Be Seen. The Environments, Interactions and Identities Behind News Images.”
Thomson said his time at Chadron State was valuable for personal, as well as academic development.
“Being involved in student government, numerous clubs, participating on committees and task forces complemented wonderfully the training and instruction I received in the classroom, and ensured I was able to maximize my opportunities following graduation,” he said.