Jonathan Ong

Associate Professor of Global Digital Media

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

The central concern of Jonathan's work is the ethics of media, which he approaches as the moral and social consequences of media and communication technologies in the everyday lives of minority groups and vulnerable communities, especially those in the global South. Two interrelated strands of research extend from this concern: 1) the first is on media witnessing and the moral responsibilities of media institutions, media workers, and media audiences to vulnerable others; 2) the second is on vulnerable communities and their uses of digital media for voice and participation, everyday sociality, and coping or healing. His research develops an ethnographic and decolonial approach that sensitively embeds media practice within rich local histories and ordinary motivations while engaging with normative debates about media justice and cosmopolitan ethics in complex multicultural societies.

He has published extensively in the areas of global media; disasters, development and humanitarian communication; ethnography of social media; creative and digital labor; mediated protest, witnessing and solidarities; and ethics of communication. He has supervised PhD students working in the areas of media in everyday life among Nigerian migrants in London, digital protest in class-divided Thailand, and Belgian audiences of distant suffering. He welcomes grad students working in these research areas. Prior to joining UMass Amherst, he was Associate Professor in the University of Leicester and Assistant Professor in Hong Kong Baptist University.

Jonathan is the founder and convenor of the British Council-funded Newton Tech4Dev Network, which is a global network of academics, humanitarians, and technology experts, studying emergent media in low- and middle-income countries. He leads the research strand on "Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines" and 2) entertainment media and convivial culture following events of rupture, drawing from case studies on the European refugee crisis and post-Katrina New Orleans.