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Research position with OTV Open Television Project

Project title: Open TV Exhibition Data Project
Faculty name:
Christian Aymar
School and Department: SOC, Communication Studies

Faculty Bio: Aymar Jean “AJ” Christian is an associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University interested in creative industries and cultural studies. His first book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television on New York University Press, argues the web brought innovation to television by opening development to independent producers. His work has been published in numerous academic journals, including The International Journal of Communication, Television & New Media, Cinema Journal, Continuum, and Transformative Works and Cultures. He has juried television and video for the Peabody Awards, Gotham Awards, and Tribeca Film Festival, among others.

Project synopsis: My work asks how new technologies and industry practices shape culture, focusing on the politics of representation as TV transitions from the network era to the networked, or digital, era. To explore the possibility of representing complex identities online and in Hollywood I needed to create my own data set because of systemic inequalities across media sectors.

OTV | Open Television — — is a platform distributing TV pilots and series by queer, trans and cis-women and artists of color. This research project investigates how independent organizations can challenge television series development to be more inclusive as it explores the possibilities for community-based arts in the digital age. The OTV platform functions as a television network from the bottom-up, using web distribution to incubate local, emerging artists and propel their careers. OTV empowers this diverse set of creatives by producing and distributing original indie series by and about artists. It is designed it as an intervention in television, film, online video and art practices and industries. The experiment tests the entire process of developing original programming, mining small-scale context for the rich data it can provide: financing, production, marketing, exhibition, and distribution.

This URAP project focuses on how OTV programs circulate online and in cities, or how programs are exhibited and received. This involves basic audience and textual analysis to determine what themes and frames are most often used and seen as most valuable for representations of historically marginalized communities.

Description of the RA position: Student(s) will be working with a broad of range of data sets related to the exhibition of television and video projects distributed online and in Chicago by my project OTV | Open Television. Primarily students will be coding and organizing data, for example: categorizing websites that embed our projects by target audience; coding the social media profiles of individual OTV projects by post type and style; mapping local, national and global screenings of OTV projects; coding interviews with local and national exhibition partners by theme.

Position Expectations: Students will work with the faculty member and a doctoral student but will work on their own time. A doctoral student will offer basic training after the faculty member provides an overview of each discreet project and task. Deadlines will generally be flexible so long as tasks are concluded within a reasonable time so research can progress. Students will have biweekly meetings with the faculty member to go over work completed and get feedback on their performance.

Students will become familiar with basic Excel and the backend of social media websites.

Time Requirements: Students will receive regular feedback through biweekly meetings with the faculty member via video chat or in-person at the faculty’s office. I respect students’ time, allowing for flexibility on deadlines so they are not over-stressed.

Applicant Prerequisites: No prior experience is required as these tasks are less technical and more exercises in basic critical thinking necessary for all undergraduates to have. Students who can show a solid work ethic and who are detail oriented will be preferred. I will be reaching out to listservs from the departments of Radio/TV/Film, Statistics and Communication Studies to reach students interested in creative industries and data. This has proven effective in the past.  Candidates will be evaluated based on their interest in the topics, including: television and other arts, social media & other modes of reception, community engagement or marketing, intersectionality (race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.) as it relates to working with data sets.

Students can apply here: