Jonathan Corpus Ong


Lecturer in Media and Communication

Room 2.03 Bankfield House, 132 New Walk, Leicester LE1 7JA

PhD Sociology, University of Cambridge, UK, 2012

MSc Politics and Communication (Distinction), London School of Economics, UK, 2007

BA Communication (Summa Cum Laude), Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines, 2003

I previously held academic posts at Hong Kong Baptist University, the University of Cambridge, Anglia Ruskin University and Ateneo de Manila University.

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My writings are primarily concerned with the social and moral consequences of media, particularly in the everyday lives of minority groups and vulnerable populations in the developing world.

I currently convene the Newton Tech4Dev Network, funded by the British Council Newton Fund. This network provides seed funding for projects that address three research areas: 1) disaster management and digital media, 2) crisis cultures and convivialities, and 3) digital sweatshops. Supported by a Newton Institutional Links grant, it formalizes research partnerships and exchange between University of Leicester and De La Salle University Philippines and supports a global network of investigators and associate members. For general information, click here. For information on our current digital sweatshops work, click here for my article in The Guardian.

My first book The Poverty of Television: The Mediation of Suffering in Class-Divided Philippines uses an ethnographic approach to engage with questions of media ethics, including the capacity of media producers and their audiences to care for vulnerable others. I use class analysis to explore how viewers’ moral distance toward distant and proximal sufferers is shaped by classed moralities. This work and related articles follow a de-Westernizing and sociological approach to nuance and challenge normative ideals of witnessing, cosmopolitanism and proper distance. Reviews of The Poverty of Television are available in Journal of Communication, International Journal of Communication, and The Times Literary Supplement (2 December). Jonathan was awarded the 2016 Philippine Social Science Council Excellence in Research Award for this book.

Recently I was lead researcher in the DFID-funded project “Who’s Listening? Accountability to Affected People in the Haiyan Response” and Co-Investigator in the ESRC-funded Humanitarian Technologies Project, an 18-month ethnography of communication environments in post-disaster contexts. These projects sought out the perspectives of affected communities in relation to the disaster recovery process and explored how communication technologies gave people voice or helped them cope from loss and rupture. The projects chronicled how accountability technologies in the Haiyan response did not lead to substantial changes in humanitarian practice (in research report Who’s Listening?), sometimes exacerbating class divides among affected peoples (article in International Journal of Communication). At the same time, we recognize the creative and agentic uses of communication technologies for sociality and community, including using dating apps for recovery sex (IRIN article), Facebook memes that call for resilience (International Communication Gazette) and Twitter for aid mobilization (ICA 2015 Top Faculty Paper).

My research engages with literatures in media ethics, media in development and humanitarianism, media and minorities, diasporic media, media in everyday life, and media and social class. He has particular area studies interests in East and Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Singapore.

Publications - click this link

Teaching & Supervision

I am module convenor of Contemporary Issues in Media & Cultural Studies, Digital Media in Everyday Life, and Media Solidarities and Human Rights.

Jonathan’s three current PhD students are working on: 1) social media activism of the middle-class in Bangkok, Thailand, 2) digital media and education in Dubai, UAE, and 3) online self-disclosure among female bloggers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Jonathan's first PhD student Funmi Alakija successfully completed her thesis on media in the everyday life of Nigerian migrants in Peckham, London.

Service to Academic Community

I was recipient of a Merit Award for outstanding contributions to the University of Leicester in August 2016.

I was Co-Chair of the Academic Committee of the Annual Conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Researchers (IAMCR), held in the University of Leicester in July 2016.

I am External Examiner for the MA degree in Media and International Development at the University of East Anglia.

I am Convenor of the Media & Development research group in Leicester.

I was the first-ever Graduate Student Representative of the Popular Communication Division of the International Communication Association (2009-2011).

I am Reviewer for the journals New Media & Society, Journal of CommunicationCommunication, Culture & Critique, Visual Communication, Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies, Sociological Quarterly, and European Journal of Cultural Studies.

My public commentary has been published or covered in The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Rappler, The Huffington Post, Communication with Disaster-Affected Communities Network, and IRIN Humanitarian News.

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Contact Details

Media and Communication
University of Leicester
Bankfield House
132 New Walk
United Kingdom

Campus based courses
T: +44(0)116 252 3863

Distance Learning Courses
T: 0116 252 3755

Research degrees (campus-based and distance learning courses)
T: +44(0)116 252 2785