Dr Philippa Smith trained as a journalist and worked in various positions in the media and public relations for many years. She came to AUT as an adult student to complete postgraduate study and moved into academic research.
She says coming back to academia after a working career was an achievement in itself, as postgraduate studies always seemed like "an impossible dream."
Philippa completed a Master of Arts (2003) and a Doctor of Philosophy (2012) while working within AUT's Institute of Culture, Discourse and Communications. Among other research projects, she analysed New Zealand’s first ever animated sitcom bro’ Town.
Philippa and her colleagues examined the popularity of bro’ Town in the competitive broadcast environment and found it to be a valuable record of evolving language patterns which typify New Zealand’s new generation of Pacific youth.
In addition, Philippa says, bro’ Town not only raised the visibility of Pacific people in New Zealand on prime time television, but it also increased awareness about the multiculturalism of the country.
Philippa says the impact of the adaptation of a globally animated sitcom genre to a New Zealand-specific television environment demonstrates that the country's increasing ethnic diversity in prime-time television cannot be underestimated.
"It will certainly feature as a milestone in records of the country's broadcasting history," she says.
Philippa says what drives her is a passion for analysing text.
"There is always meaning behind words as the words you see in text is only part of the meaning. This might come down to different ideological beliefs, or political influences, or people's own backgrounds. I tell my students, 'Always read between the lines and figure out what the real message is behind the words.'"
Philippa is the Executive Director of the World Internet Project, an international project involving over 40 countries that compare internet usage. The findings are used by government departments, organisations, individuals and is an important way to track the trends of internet usage globally and also here in New Zealand.