Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


Dr Kate Nash

Head of School and Associate Professor, Media and Communication

0113 343 4443

Clothworkers' Building North, Room 1.23

B.Sc., (Sydney) BA (Hons) PhD (UNE)


I began my career as a media producer at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, specializing in radio and television documentary. My PhD ‘Beyond the Frame’ explored questions of ethics, trust and power in the long term and complex relationships between documentary makers and their participants. Since completing my PhD in 2010 I have been exploring the intersection of documentary, journalism and digital media. I joined the School of Communication and Media in 2013, having previously taught at the University of Tasmania.

Research Interests

My research centres on the production and social impacts of factual content, particularly documentary. Increasingly I have focused on the responses of media producers and audiences to digital technologies and cultures, and the production and circulation of factual media outside of the mainstream media. My key research areas include: journalism and documentary studies, digital documentary and media ethics.


Head of School


Journal articles

  • Nash K (2018) “Virtual reality witness: exploring the ethics of mediated presence”, Studies in Documentary Film. 12.2: 119-131.
    DOI: 10.1080/17503280.2017.1340796, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/118286/

    © 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The notion of immersive witness underpins much of the exploration of virtual reality (VR) by journalists and humanitarian organisations. Immersive witness links the experience of VR with a moral attitude of responsibility for distant others. In accounts of media witness, the ability of the media to sustain an experience of presence has played an important, albeit often implicit, role linking the spectator spatially and temporally to distant suffering. However, the concept of media witness has to date assumed that the media represent, that news stories and documentaries present to their audiences images and sounds that communicate something of an event. VR, in contrast, seeks to simulate, providing the audience with something of an experience that is linked in various ways to the experiences of others. It is this simulative function that is seen as fundamental to VR’s moral address. This paper explores the moral potential of VR suggesting that while there is much to recommend VR as a platform for humanitarian communication there is an inherent moral risk attached: the risk of improper distance. The United Nation’s VR work serves as a case study for exploring VR’s moral potential and the risk of improper distance.

  • Nash K, Corner J (2016) “Strategic impact documentary: Contexts of production and social intervention”, European Journal of Communication. 31.3: 227-242.
    DOI: 10.1177/0267323116635831, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/93238/

    © 2016, © The Author(s) 2016. The past decade has seen the emergence of a new kind of documentary making that marries documentary storytelling and the principles of strategic communication. Strategic impact documentary is a transmedia practice that aims to achieve specific social change by aligning documentary production with online and offline communications practices. The contemporary media environment is one in which a wide range of organizations work to achieve their political and social goals through the media. This article highlights key characteristics of an emerging form of professional documentary production, drawing attention to formal development and changing contexts of production and the implications of this for our understanding of the link between documentary and social change.

  • Nash K (2015) “Simulation games, popular factual media and civic engagement: an audience study of Asylum Exit Australia”, Media, Culture and Society. 37.7: 959-971.
    DOI: 10.1177/0163443715584103, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/84098/

    © 2015, © The Author(s) 2015. Asylum: Exit Australia is a first-person simulation game that puts the player in the shoes of an asylum seeker. Produced to accompany the television series Go Back to Where You Came From it seeks to make a new kind of intervention in a divisive social debate. This paper considers simulation games in terms of their ability to foster civic engagement. Locating simulation games within the broad field of popular factual media, several strands of continuity are identified, while attention is also paid to the specific characteristics of simulation games, particularly the relationship they establish between player and text. Audience responses to Asylum provide insight into the experience of play and the ways in which audiences relate this experience to the asylum seeker debate.

  • Nash K (2014) “What is interactivity for? The social dimension of web-documentary participation.”, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies. 28.3: 383-395.
    DOI: 10.1080/10304312.2014.893995, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/84092/

    Documentary has been so closely associated with the mediums of film and television that the emergence of new forms of documentary, made for computerized mediums such as the Internet, mobile phones and tablets appear fundamentally transformative. The potential for audiences to interact with documentary in various ways is at the heart of what makes these new modes of documentary distinctive; audiences are potentially able to engage in a range of practices from navigating virtual environments, to choosing video content from a database, taking part in ‘chat’ sessions and creating content. Engaging theoretically with these emerging audience practices raises questions about authorship and the social impact of documentary. In this paper, interactivity and participation are considered from a social perspective. It is suggested that there is a need to distinguish between user actions that impact on the documentary text and the ability of users to engage with others through documentary. The concept of documentary voice is interrogated to reveal two distinct dimensions: voice-as-authorship and voice-as-social participation. Drawing on documentary and digital media scholarship, this paper explores the social functions of documentary interactivity and participation with reference to a range of web-documentary examples.

  • Nash K (2014) “Strategies of interaction, questions of meaning: An audience study of the NFBs Bear 71”, Studies in Documentary Film. 8.3: 221-234.
    DOI: 10.1080/17503280.2014.958904, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/84094/

    © 2014 Taylor & Francis. What do audiences actually do with interactive documentary and how do their actions contribute to the process of meaning making? This paper presents the results of a study of user responses to the web-documentary Bear 71. Arguing that interaction and interpretation are interconnected, a methodology for interactive documentary reception study is proposed. The research considers how users structure their interaction, producing a specific audio-visual sequence by deploying interactive/interpretive strategies. The activity of the user in structuring their interaction is considered, as is the role of the text/author in promoting specific patterns of engagement. Finally, the pleasures of interactive documentary are considered.

  • Nash K (2012) “Telling stories: the narrative study of documentary ethics”, New Review of Film and Television Studies Sanders W (eds.). September 2012. 10.3: 318-331.
    DOI: 10.1080/17400309.2012.693765, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76687/

    The telling of stories unites documentary practice and ethics. Moral judgements are often central to storytelling and for that reason stories are uniquely placed to help us engage with the ethics of documentary production. Documentary ethics has developed as a broadly situationist discourse, characterized by a desire to situate individual moral judgement within specific contexts. While on one level this complicates ethical discourse, it also suggests a key role for empirical study. A significant contribution that empirical research can make, and the one that guides the research presented here, is to contribute to a full understanding of the complexity of the contexts of documentary production and reception from a variety of different perspectives. While there is a growing body of research from the perspective of the documentary maker, relatively little is known about the participant’s experience of documentary production or the interpersonal relationships on which documentary depends. Two case studies demonstrate how participant narratives can inform debates around consent power and trust.

  • Nash K (2012) “Modes of Interactivity: Analysing the Webdoc”, Media, Culture and Society Boyle R; Corner J; Reading A; Scannell P (eds.). March 2012. 34.2: 195-210.
    DOI: 10.1177/0163443711430758, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76685/

    The webdocumentary positions itself as documentary re-mediated for the internet age. Not only does the name webdocumentary consciously reference film and television documentary but it is possible to trace continuities in representational strategies, purpose and production practices that situate the webdoc within the documentary tradition. In spite of this family resemblance, however, the webdoc challenges current thinking about documentary representation. Interactivity in particular has consequences for theorizing in relation to modes of representation and user engagement. This article considers interactivity as a representational strategy, suggesting three dimensions for assessing its contribution to documentary. Following on from this it is suggested that, like film and television documentary, webdocs exhibit patterns of textual organization. It is suggested that there are at least three interactive structures found in webdocs: the narrative, the categorical and the collaborative. Each can be further divided – indicating the diverse uses of interactive features. A challenge of researching interactive texts is that the whole text is never completely available for analysis. Each viewing has the potential to be different from the last. Although necessarily provisional, this article seeks to demonstrate what might be achieved through close reading of the interactive documentary text.

  • Nash K (2012) “Goa Hippy Tribe: Theorising documentary content on a social network site”, Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy: quarterly journal of media research and resources. 142.February 2012: 30-40.

    In the 1970s a wave of young Western hippies decendedon the beaches of Goa in India. Forty years later, some of them reconnected on the social network site Facebook and planned a reunion. This event, and the Goan hippy community then and now, are the subjects of a documentary called Goa Hippy Tribe, produced by Australian documentary maker Darius Devas. Funded by Screen Australia, SBS and Screen New South Wales, Goa Hippy Tribe is the first Australian documentary to be produced for the social network Facebook. In this article, I consider how documentary in a social network context might be theorised. While the concept of the database narrative is most often invoked to explain user interactivity in online documentary, social networks such as Facebook invite different forms of interaction, and therefore raise distinct theoretical questions. In particular, Goa Hippy Tribe demonstrates the potential for the audience to engage creatively and communally with documentary.

  • Nash K (2011) “Documentary-for-the-Other: Relationships, Ethics and (Observational) Documentary”, Journal of Mass Media Ethics Wilkins L (eds.). 26.3: 224-239.
    DOI: 10.1080/08900523.2011.581971, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76686/

    While documentary ethics has been largely normative to date, there is growing interest in alternative forms of ethical thinking. The work of Emmanuel Levinas in particular is providing a way of thinking through both the ethics of docu- mentary viewing and production. This article begins by drawing attention to the link between documentary ethics and aesthetics and then uses Levinas’s work to consider the ethical relations established in observational documentary production. Of the different documentary modes, the observational has been the source of particular ethical difficulties, yet viewed from a Levinisian perspective it is possible to identify ways in which observation preserves the alterity of the documentary subject.

  • Nash K (2011) “Beyond the frame: researching documentary ethics”, TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs. 15.1: 1-13.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/79022/

    Questions of ethics remain central to documentary practice and scholarship. In spite of the growth of literature dealing with the subject, documentary ethics remains a field characterised by a focus on crises and the application of mutliple ethical theories and concepts. This discussion considers the empirical study of documentary practice as a foundation for ethical discussion. Given the changing nature of documentary it is suggested that a notion of good practice can best be developed by considering the experiences of those involved. Beyond the Frame is an ongoing research project that seeks to understand the experience of documentary participants and the relationship they develop with documentary filmmakers. As more filmmakers embrace interactive modes of documentary, the relationship they develop with participants becomes critical to ethical discussion. This paper will present the results of studies completed to date and outline some future directions.

  • Nash K (2010) “Exploring power and trust in documentary: A study of Tom Zubrycki's Molly and Mobarak”, Studies in Documentary Film Williams D (eds.). 4.1: 21-33.
    DOI: 10.1386/sdf.4.1.21_1, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76688/

    Power represents a problem for documentary, raising questions about the politics and ethics of representation. In this article the notion of power in documentary is explored. The influence of domination as a model for power relations within documentary production is challenged and a Foucauldian notion of power relationships suggested as an alternative way of conceptualising the documentary-maker participant relationship. Drawing on empirical research with documentary maker Tom Zubrycki and participant Lyn Rule, this article brings to light the complexities of power and the importance of trust in the context of documentary


  • Nash K (2017) “I-docs and the documentary tradition: exploring questions of engagement”, In: Aston J; Gaudenzi S; Rose M (eds.) IDocs: The Evolving Practices of Interactive Documentary. Columbia University Press/ Wallflower.

    Documentary media’s relationship to the social world is distinctive. This is particularly the case in relation to questions of citizenship, with documentary long claiming a particular, albeit historically variable, role in its mediation. Central to the civic role of documentary is the claim that documentary serves as a source of public knowledge that serves to inform political participation. While i-docs are formally and technically distinct from linear documentary media, there is some evidence for continuity at the level of their social functions, with citizenship a continuing touchstone for documentary practice. I-docs frequently aspire to expand documentary’s political role, particularly by providing new ways of engaging with social issues and opportunities for forms of self-representation. In these aspirations is a continuation of documentary’s political ambition, but also a response, shaped by the cultures and possibilities of digital media, to the contemporary challenges of representing and attempting to impact on the real.

  • Warr Pedersen K, West M, Brown N, Sadler D, Nash K (2016) “Delivering Institutional Priorities in Learning and Teaching through a Social Learning Model: Embedding a High Impact Community of Practice Initiative at the University of Tasmania”, In: McDonald J; Cater-Steel A (eds.) Communities of Practice Facilitating Social Learning in Higher Education. Singapore: Springer. 99-121

    In this book about communities of practice in the international, higher education sector, the authors articulate the theoretical foundations of communities of practice (CoPs), research into their application in higher education, leadership ...

  • Nash K, Hight C, Summerhayes C (2014) Introduction: New documentary ecologies: Emerging platforms, practices and discourses. 1-7
    DOI: 10.1057/9781137310491

  • Fern S, Nash K, Leane E (2014) Encounters with Antarctic animals in ABC's Catalyst. 73-90
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/80717/

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