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Michael Bourk_186MA, PhD (Canberra)


Office: Richardson 6C13
Tel: 64 3 4795751

Research Interest

Narrative and frame analysis
Critical and cultural theory

Before coming to Otago, Michael studied and later taught at the University of Canberra where he received his BA, MA and PhD. in Communication. He has a primary research interest in institutional narratives and frames, with particular interest in those associated with policies, strategies and media technologies that may impact active participation in society.
He is also interested in the symmetrical aspects of mediated communication and how various audiences or interpretive communities construct meaning from a wide variety of media texts and personal experiences.
His Masters argued both charity and rights narratives have been used to frame access to telecommunication services for people with disabilities in Australia. Subsequently, his PhD. used a similar critical cultural approach to unpack the complexity surrounding policies that attempt to balance political, social and commercial priorities in Australian telecommunication development. Later he used the same method to analyse media and social frames of the 2004 South Asian tsunamis.
More recent research projects involve collaboration with other researchers within the University of Otago and overseas. In 2012, he joined a research team from the Centre for Science Communication to analyse New Zealand broadcast media frames of climate change. In addition, he and colleagues from the University of Canberra began analyzing the state online responses to the Christchurch earthquakes. Most recently, in a 2014 research project led by Professor Kerry Shephard from HEDC, Michael is incorporating frame and circuit of culture analyses to explore how university staff construct and represent the graduate attribute, 'global perspective'.


Current Supervisions:

Susan Wardell (PhD)

Recent Completions:

David Paterno (PhD)

Shah Nister Kabir (2013) PhD

Paul Andrew McMillan (2013) MA

Papers In 2015

MFCO205: Communication Research Methods

MFCO321: Strategic Communication

MFCO431: Advanced Environmental Communication


Bourk, M. (2014). Guía de viaje para (nuevos) periodistas que cubren el cambio climático ['Travel guide’ for new journalists covering climate change]. In B. León (Ed.), Periodismo, medios de comunicación y cambio climático. (pp. 59-70). Salamanca, Spain: Comunicación Social.

Bourk, M., & Holland, K. (2014). From silos to flows: Spatial metaphor and communication responses to the Christchurch earthquakes. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 29(2), 33-39.

Bourk, M., Davis, L., Rock, J., & León, B. (2014). Mediating the science: The symbolic and structural influences on communicating climate change through New Zealand’s television news. In B. León (Ed.), Communicating Climate Change: From Global Agenda to Media Representation: Proceedings of the 28th CICOM International Conference on Communication. (pp. 232-251). Salamanca, Spain: Communicación Social. [Full Paper]

Bourk, M., & Gutsche, Jr, R. E. (2013). News-masking: A theoretical perspective on the rituals and artifacts of news during crisis. Proceedings of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) Conference: Crises, ‘Creative Destruction’ and the Global Power and Communication Orders. Retrieved from

Davis, L. S., Bourk, M., Rock, J., Wardell, S., & Leon, B. (2013, January). Does the messenger kill the message: How climate change and scientists come across on television news. Verbal presentation at the VII Southern Connection Congress: Southern Lands and Southern Oceans: Life on the Edge? Dunedin, New Zealand.

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