Dr Philippa Smith

Research Manager — Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication at AUT University

Philippa is the research manager in the Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication and a senior lecturer on the School of Language and Culture's Bachelor and Masters degrees in English and New Media. She is interested in all forms of communication from the level of language and discourse, through to the impact of digital technologies and new media.

Philippa was a visiting fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute (Oxford University) from September to December, 2018 where she researched freedom of expression on the internet. https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/people/philippa-smith/ She also gave presentations at the University of Swansea and the University of Lancaster during this time.

Philippa was one of the initiators of the World Internet Project in New Zealand which was first conducted in  2006 and she was executive director of the project from 2014 – 2016.  This project surveyed New Zealanders about their use of the internet and new media technologies over time which has provided useful insights into the impact of the internet on society. Other internet-related research Philippa has been involved in includes: the Online News Project, the Digital Inclusion Project and a report on New Zealanders with disabilities and their internet use.

Following a career in journalism and public relations in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand, Philippa returned to academic studies completing an MA in Communication Studies and a Doctor of Philosophy — both from AUT University. She is also a senior lecturer on the Bachelors and Masters degrees in English and New Media Studies in the School of Language and Communication.

Philippa's doctoral thesis titled  New Zealanders on the 'Net: discourses of national identities in cyberspace identified discourses about national identity by analysing the 'talk' of New Zealanders through computer-mediated communication (CMC) on the Internet during the 2000s when the nation was becoming notably more diverse.

Applying a 'discourse-historical' methodological approach of critical discourse analysis, as developed by Ruth Wodak and others (1999, 2000, 2008), Philippa's study examined competing discourses based on people's understanding of nationhood in relation to their ethnicity and/or ties with former homelands, to their kiwi citizenship and to various perspectives on what it means to be a 'New Zealander'. View the thesis here.

Research interests

Philippa's research interests are mainly in the areas of media, communications, identity and discourse analysis (predominantly critical discourse analysis). She is particularly interested in investigating discourses through the analysis of texts whether television programmes, political speeches and documents, news articles, websites or online discussions.

Theoretical approaches she has applied include argumentation theory and social constructionism. Philippa has been involved in a number of research projects at AUT including the NZ Television Violence Project (2003), and the bro'Town Research Project (2005-2006). In addition she has been a member of the World Internet Project team since 2007 that surveys New Zealander's biennially about their Internet use as part of a cross-country comparison.

Philippa is a founding member of both ICDC's Discourse Research Group and the Internet Research Group. She is a member of the Association of Internet Researchers and has been a co-editor of ICDC's on-line publication, Working Papers in Communication Research. In 2011 and 2012 Philippa was a plenary speaker along with Dr Jennie Billot and Professor Allan Bell respectively at InternetNZ's Nethui conferences in Auckland.


  • 2016 Faculty of Culture and Society award for excellence in research leadership
  • 2015 — Faculty of Culture and Society award for excellence in team research in the World Internet Project in New Zealand
  • 2007 — Recipient of an AUT contestable PhD scholarship
  • 2006 — Awarded financial support from the Royal Society of New Zealand's International Science and Technology Fund to attend the international partners' meeting of the World Internet Project, Beijing, People's Republic of China, July, 2006.
  • 2004 — Recipient of AUT, Vice-Chancellors award for excellence in team research in the Television Violence in NZ project
  • 2003 — Recipient of the AUT School of Communications Studies award for excellence in Post-Graduate Research — Master of Arts in Communications Studies, Auckland University of Technology.


Philippa has been interviewed by a number of media outlets on communication topics:

Selected publications

  • Lorenzo-Dus, N. and Smith, P. (2018). The visual construction of political crises: A news values approach. In M. Patrona (ed). Crisis and the Media: Narratives of Crisis across Cultural Settings and Media. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Sissons, H. and Smith, P. (2017). Sounding off or a sounding board? Comments sections of news websites as interactive spaces. In J. Thornborrow, M. Burger and R. Fitzgerald (eds). Digital Communication and Social Networks: Space, Place and Social Media. Brussels: DeBoeck
  • Smith, P. and Sissons, H. (2016). Social media and a case of mistaken identity: A newspaper’s response to journalistic error. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism. Online edition journals.sagepub.com/
  • Smith, P. (2016). 'New Zealand Passport Holder' versus 'New Zealander'? The marginalization of ethnic minorities in the news – a New Zealand case study. In Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism. 17(6), 694-710. journals.sagepub.com/
  • Smith, P., Grant, L., Conway, C and Narayan, V. (2016). Mobile devices and mobile learning: Shifting the mindset of teachers and learners. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning. 29(4): 1-16
  • Smith, P. (2015). 'New Zealand Passport Holder' versus 'New Zealander'? The marginalization of ethnic minorities in the news – a New Zealand case study. In Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism. Online edition. jou.sagepub.com.ezproxy.aut.ac.nz
  • Smith, P. (2014). Review Essay: Carving a niche for minority language media studies not so easy. Of Gruffydd Jones, E. and Uribe-Jongbloed, E. (2013). Social Media and Minority Languages: Convergence and the Creative Industries. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. Pacific Journalism Review, 20(1), 247-250.
  • Smith, P. (2013). 'Heroic Endeavours: Flying High in New Zealand Reality Television.' In N. Lorenzo-Dus and P. Blitvich (eds.) Real Talk: Reality Television and Discourse in Action. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bell, A. & Smith, P. (2012). 'News Discourse.' In Carol A. Chapelle (ed.) The Online Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Smith, P., Smith, N., Sherman, K., Goodwin, I., Crothers, C., Billot, J., Bell, A. (2010). The Internet in New Zealand 2009. Auckland: Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communication, AUT University.
  • Lustyik, K. and Smith, P. (2010). From The Simpsons to "The Simpsons of the South Pacific": New Zealand's First Primetime Animation, bro' Town in Television & New Media 11(5) 331–349.
  • Smith, P. (2009). Rebuilding New Zealand's national identity: A critical discourse analysis of the role of the charismatic documentary presenter. In 'Critical Discourse Analysis: An interdisciplinary perspective'T. Le (ed) Nova Publisher, New York.
  • Smith, P., & Bell, A. (2008) English in Mass Communications: News Discourse and the Language of Journalism.  In A Companion to the History of the English Language. H. Momma and M. Matto (eds). Blackwell Publishing: Oxford.
  • Smith, P. & Lustyik, K. (2008) The global popularity of animated sitcoms — 'bro' Town' — New Zealand's answer to 'The Simpsons'. In Youth, Media and Culture in the Asia Pacific Region International Symposium. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.
  • Smith, P., Smith, N., Sherman, K., Kripalani, K., Goodwin, I., Crothers, C., Bell, A. (November, 2008) The Internet: Social and demographic impacts in Aotearoa New Zealand, Journal Observatorio (OBS*), 2 (3). — document stored as "Observatorio final.doc"
  • Smith, P. & Bell, A. (2007) Unravelling the web of discourse analysis in Media Studies: Key Issues and Debates, E.  Devereux (ed) Sage Publications: London.
  • King, B., Bridgman, G., Smith, P., Bell, A., King, A., Harvey, S., Crothers, C., and Hassall, I. (2003). Television Violence in New Zealand: A study of programming and policy in international context. Centre for Communication Research, AUT University.
  • Smith, P. (2003).  Desperately seeking a national Identity: an examination of narrative in the Heartland television series and its influence in defining New Zealanders. Unpublished MA thesis. School of Communication Studies. AUT University.

Recent conference presentations (2017-2018)

  • Smith, P. & Sissons, H. (2018). “Stupid bitches” and “old girls chewing the fat” – Female journalists and discourses of abuse online. British Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Conference. Held at St John’s University, York, UK, 6-8 September, 2018.
  • Smith, P. (2018). Bigotry online: Commenters responses to the ‘give nothing’ to racism campaign in New Zealand. A paper presented as part of a colloquium “The dark side of social media: From expression and perception to response and mitigation of intolerant and abusive content online" at the Sociolinguistics Symposium 22. Held at University of Auckland, NZ. 27-30 June, 2018.
  • Smith, P. (2017). Seeking the lime light for political gain: Discourses of immigration in the NZ General Election. Paper presented at the 6th New Zealand Discourse Conference, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. 6-9 December, 2017.
  • Sissons, H. & Smith P. (2017). "Shame on the Times!": Moral indignation and the construction of an online community of news readers. Paper presented at the International Communication Association’s 67th Annual Conference. Held at Hilton Hotel Conference Center, San Diego, US, 27 May, 2017.

Contact: philippa.smith@aut.ac.nz