Jonathan Corpus Ong

Lecturer in Media and Communication


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


Personal details

  • 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
  • University of Cambridge
  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Ateneo de Manila University

Service to the 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 and 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 and Society
    • Journal of Communication
    • Communication
    • Culture and Critique
    • Visual Communication
    • Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies
    • Sociological Quarterly
    • 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
    • IRIN Humanitarian News



I am module convenor of Contemporary Issues in

  • Media and Cultural Studies
  • Digital Media in Everyday Life
  • Media Solidarities and Human Rights



Rovisco, M. & Ong, J.C. (2016) (eds.). Taking the Square: Mediated Dissent and Occupations of Public Space. London: Rowman & Littlefield.

Ong, J.C. (2015). The Poverty of Television: The Mediation of Suffering in Class-Divided Philippines. London & New York: Anthem Press. (part of Global Media and Communication series, edited by Dr Shaku Banaji and Prof Terhi Rantanen). Reviews available in Journal of Communication (by Toussaint Nothias), International Journal of Communication (by Tal Morse), and The Times Literary Supplement (2 December) (by Marina Gerner).

Journal special issue

Curato, N. & Ong, J.C. (2015) (eds.) Special Issue: Sociology in the Age of Disasters. Philippine Sociological Review 63.

Journal articles

Ong, J.C. (in preparation). “Digital Sweatshops in the Disaster Zone: Precarious Labor of Techie Aid Workers.”

Ong, J.C. & Madianou, M. (in preparation) "Ordinary Uses, Extraordinary Circumstances: ICTs in Everyday Disaster Contexts".

Ong, J.C., Cabanes, J.V. & Mandhyan, R. (accepted, under revision). ‘Voice and Visibility: Self-Representations of Filipino Dumagat Tribespeople in a Participatory Photography Project’. Visual Communication. (based on ICA Top Paper Prize- Ethnicity and Race in Communication Division)

Ong, J.C. (forthcoming, 2017). “Typhoon Grindr: Cosmopolitan Convivialities of LGBT Communities in the Disaster Zone”. International Communication Gazette.

Madianou, M., Ong, J.C., Longboan, L. & Cornelio, J. (forthcoming, 2016). "The Appearance of Accountability: Communication Technologies and Power Asymmetries in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Recovery". Journal of Communication.

David, C., Ong, J.C. & Legara, E. (2016). "Tweeting Supertyphoon Haiyan: Evolving Functions of Twitter during and after a Disaster Event". PLOS One. (based on ICA 2015 CAT Division Top Faculty Paper Prize Winner).

Madianou, M., Longboan, L. & Ong, J.C. (2015). "Finding a Voice through Humanitarian Technologies? Communication Technologies and Participation in Disaster Recovery." International Journal of Communication, 9: 3020-3038.. Online First 15 September 2015.

Ong, J.C. (2015). "Witnessing Distant and Proximal Suffering within a 'Zone of Danger': Lay Moralities of Media Audiences in the Philippines". International Communication Gazette. Special Issue: Audiences of Suffering (ed. Stijn Joye & Johannes von Engelhardt).

Curato, N. & Ong, J.C. (2015). “Inclusion as Deliberative Agency: The Selective Representation of Poor Women in Debates and Documentaries about Reproductive Health". Television & New Media 16(6): 576-594. Online First 4 November 2014.

Curato, N. & Ong, J.C. (2015). "Disasters Can Lift Veils: Five Issues for Sociological Disaster Studies". Special Issue: Sociology in the Age of Disasters. Philippine Sociological Review 63, 1-25.

Bankoff, G., Curato, N. & Ong, J.C. (2015). "Cultures of Disaster Revisited: Interview with Greg Bankoff". Special Issue: Sociology in the Age of Disasters. Philippine Sociological Review 63, 207-216.

Ong, J.C. (2014). ‘”Witnessing” or “Mediating” Distant Suffering? Ethical Questions Across Moments of Text, Production and Reception’. Television & New Media 15(3): 179-196. Published Online First on 24 August 2012. (Lead article. Top 20 Most Read Article in Television & New Media).

Ong, J.C. & Cabanes, J.V. (2011). ‘Engaged, But Not Immersed: Tracking the Mediated Public Connection of Filipino Elite Migrants in London’.South East Asia Research, 19(2): 197-224. Invited contribution for the special issue ‘Mediated Diasporas: Material Translations of the Philippines in a Globalized World.’

Ong, J.C (2009). ‘Where Is the Cosmopolitan? Locating Cosmopolitanism in Media and Cultural Studies.’ Media, Culture and Society, 31(3): 449-466. (Top 5 Most Read Article in Media, Culture & Society).

Ong, J.C. (2009). ‘Watching the Nation, Singing the Nation: London-based Filipino Migrants’ Identity Constructions in News and Karaoke.’Communication, Culture and Critique, 2(2): 160-181.

Ong, J.C. (2009). ‘The Television of Politics, The Politics of Television: Reviewing the Relationship between Television and Public Engagement.’International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 4(3): 391-396.

Ong, J.C. (2008). ‘Children Watching Children: How Filipino Children Represent and Receive News Images of Suffering.’ Philippine Sociological Review 56.

Book chapters

Ong, J.C. (in preparation). "The Ordinary Ethics of Witnessing and Weeping: Everyday Life Approaches to the Mediation of Suffering". In Chouliaraki, L. & Vestergaard, A. (eds.). Handbook of Humanitarian Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ong, J.C. & Lin, T.Z. (forthcoming, 2017). “Plague in the City: Digital Media as Shaming Apparatus Toward Mainland Chinese 'Locusts' in Hong Kong”. In Aiello, G., Tarantino, M., & Oakley, K. (eds.). Communicating the City. New York: Peter Lang.

Curato, N., Ong, J.C. & Longboan, L. (2016). "Protest as Interruption of the Disaster Imaginary: Overcoming Voice-Denying Rationalities in Post-Haiyan Philippines". In Rovisco, M. & Ong, J.C. (eds.). Taking the Square: Mediated Dissent and Occupations of Public Space. London: Rowman & Littlefield.

Rovisco, M. & Ong, J.C. (2016). “Introduction”. In Rovisco, M. & Ong, J.C. (eds.). Taking the Square: Mediated Dissent and Occupations of Public Space. London & NY: Rowman & Littlefield.

Ong, J.C. (2015). “Charity Appeals as ‘Poverty Porn’? Production Ethics in Representing Suffering Children and Typhoon Haiyan Beneficiaries in the Philippines”. In Mayer, V., Banks, M., Conor, B., & Caldwell, J. (eds.). Production Studies, the Sequel! London & New York: Taylor & Francis.

Ong, J.C. (2015). ‘The Television of Intervention: Mediating Patron-Client Ties in the Philippines’. In Tay, J., Turner, G., & Iwabuchi, K. Television Histories in Asia: Issues and Context. London & New York: Routledge.

Book reviews

Ong, J.C. (2016). Book Review of Cosmopolitanism and the Media: Cartographies of Change by Miyase Christensen and Andre Jansson. European Journal of Communication 31(4): 479-481.

Ong, J.C. (2015). "Book Review of Social Media in Disaster Response by Liza Potts". Mobile Media & Communication3(3): 426-428.

Ong, J.C. ‘Book Review of The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism by Lilie Chouliaraki’. Journal of Communication 63(3), E1-E5.

Humanitarian research reports and monographs

Buchanan-Smith, M., Ong, J.C., Routley, S. (2015). Who's Listening? Accountability to Affected People in Typhoon Haiyan. A Listening Project of Plan International, World Vision and the International Organization for Migration.

Ong, J.C., Flores, B. & Combinido, P. (2015). Obliged to Be Grateful: How Affected Communities Experienced Humanitarian Actors in Typhoon Haiyan. A Listening Project of Plan International, World Vision and the International Organization for Migration.


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:

  • disaster management and digital media
  • crisis cultures and convivialities
  • digital sweatshops

Supported by a Newton Institutional Links grant, it formalises research partnerships and exchange between University of Leicester and De La Salle University Philippines and supports a global network of investigators and associate members.

You can find out general information online, or read my article in The Guardian for information on our current digital sweatshops work.

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. I was awarded the 2016 Philippine Social Science Council Excellence in Research Award for the 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 the research report Who’s Listening?), sometimes exacerbating class divides among affected peoples (in an article in the International Journal of Communication).

At the same time, we recognise the creative and agentic uses of communication technologies for sociality and community, including using dating apps for recovery sex (covered in an IRIN article), Facebook memes that call for resilience (in a piece in the International Communication Gazette) and Twitter for aid mobilisation (in an 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
  • media and social class

I also have particular area studies interests in East and Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Singapore.


My three current PhD students are working on

  • social media activism of the middle-class in Bangkok, Thailand
  • digital media and education in Dubai, UAE
  • online self-disclosure among female bloggers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

My first PhD student, Funmi Alakija, successfully completed her thesis on media in the everyday life of Nigerian migrants in Peckham, London.


Digital Sweatshops in the Disaster Zone: Who Pays the Real Price for Innovation? The Guardian. 11 October 2016.

(review of The Poverty of Television). The Times Literary Supplement. 2 December 2015.

(coverage). "Tacloban's Gays Enjoy Spirit of Acceptance After Typhoon Haiyan" by Astrid Zweynert of Reuters. Carried by The New York Times, The Daily MailChannel News AsiaCNN. 5 November 2015.

Typhoon Grindr: Love, Liberation and Post-Disaster Sex in the Philippines. IRIN Humanitarian News & Analyses. 8 Sept 2015.

(coverage) Making Accountability Accountable. IRIN Humanitarian News & Analyses. 10 June 2015.

Does Humanitarian Aid Mend Communities or Break Them? The Guardian. 27 March 2015.

Hidden Injuries of Humanitarian Relief. Communication with Disaster-Affected Communities Network. 23 Feb 2015.

A Tale of Two Taclobans. Rappler. 10 May 2014.

Phone Cams and Hate Speech in Hong Kong. 28 August 2013. The Huffington Post.

Charity: More Fun in the Philippines? GMA News. 15 March 2013.

(with Nicole Curato) The RH Bill Debate and Responsible Participation. ABS-CBN News. 29 September 2012.

(Interview) Game Shows and the Culture of Dependency. Business World. 17 November 2011.

(Interview) British Documentary Exposes Ugly Side of Manila. 27 February 2011. ABS-CBN News.

(with Jason Cabanes) Why Mareng Winnie Was (Likely) Not Addressing You. GMA News. 8 November 2010.

Essay on the Manila Bus Tragedy: The Safety in the Cliché. GMA News. 30 August 2010.

(TV Interview with Cheche Lazaro) Michael Jackson and Celebrity Deaths. Media in Focus. ABS-CBN News Channel. 29 June 2009.

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Contact Details

School of Media, Communication and Sociology

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

University of Leicester
Bankfield House
132 New Walk
United Kingdom

University of Leicester
107-111 Princess Road East
United Kingdom


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