Current committee, as of January 2020

Chair: Jelle Mast (2019-21)

Jelle Mast holds a PhD in Communication Sciences (University of Antwerp) and currently works as an assistant professor of journalism studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium. He coordinates the Brussels Institute for Journalism Studies (BIJU) and teaches introductory courses to Journalism Studies, Documentary Studies, and Media Structures. His research is typically located at the intersection of visual communication, journalism practice, and professional ethics. Current research interests include visual gatekeeping and the incorporation of user-generated imagery by mainstream news media; editorial deliberations regarding the use of graphic news images across different types of news media; forms of metajournalistic discourse; and genre hybridization in screen documentary.

Vice-Chair: Mary A. Bock (2019-21)


Mary Angela Bock is a former journalist turned academic with an interest in the sociology of photographic practice, the rhetorical relationship between words and images, and digital media. Her previous career was spent primarily in local television news, first as a TV reporter for KCCI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa; then as an assignment editor and field producer in Philadelphia’s WPVI-TV. She has also worked short stints as a newspaper reporter, a radio journalist, and public relations writer.

Secretary: Tim Highfield (2018-20)


Tim Highfield’s research examines critical cultural implications of social and digital media within everyday life. His work focuses in particular on digital cultures and practices with regards to visual, temporal, and political perspectives. Since September 2019 he is Lecturer in Digital Media and Society in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield. Previously he was Assistant Professor in New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam (2018-19), and Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow (2015-18) at Queensland University of Technology, where he also completed his PhD in 2011. He is the author of Social Media and Everyday Politics (Polity, 2016), and co-author with Tama Leaver and Crystal Abidin of Instagram: Visual Social Media Cultures (Polity, 2020). For more information, see

International Liaison: T.J. Thomson (2019-22)


Dr T.J. Thomson, FHEA, is a lecturer in visual communication and media and a chief investigator at the QUT Digital Media Research Centre. He recently published “To See and Be Seen: The Environments, Interactions, and Identities Behind News Images” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). He is also an officer in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Visual Communication Division and the International Communication Association Visual Communication Studies Division. T.J.’s research focuses on how visual journalism is produced—by whom, in what environments, through which processes, and with what results. He also examines visual self-representation on social media and everyday image making. His approach is based on a combination of ethnography (both physical and virtual), interviews, textual analysis, and digital media methods. He sits on the editorial board of the journal Visual Communication Quarterly and has, since 2017, also served as one of its two associate editors. He is the 2019 Anne Dunn Scholar of the Year (jointly bestowed by the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia and the Australia and New Zealand Communication Association) and is on the advisory board of the Society for Phenomenology and Media.

Student and Early Career Representative: Rebecca Venema (2018-20)


Rebecca Venema is a Ph.D. student at the Institute for Communication Technologies (ITC). From 2013 until 2017 she was a research associate in the research project “Communicative Figurations of ethical debates in the field of the economy: Deliberative and moralizing communication in media change” at the interdisciplinary Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) at the University of Bremen. She holds a BA in Sociology, Political Science and Media Studies from the University of Siegen and a MA in Communication and Media Studies with a spezialization in Empirical Communication Research from Leipzig University. Her research interests include (visual) networked everyday communication, norms and ethics of communication, ethics for the digital age, methods of repertoire-oriented cross-media research, research ethics and (new) approaches to media literacy.

For previous committee members, see the list of past officers of the Visual Communication Studies division

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