My professional goal is to find answers to the question of how, in a digital age, we can shape a more ethical media landscape. My expertise and qualifications are inter-disciplinary, spanning ethics, law and media.
In January 2018, I joined the Centre for Media Transition at UTS as a postdoctoral research fellow. In an era of fake news, AI news aggregators and declining trust in news media, journalism is under threat - and so too democracy. At the CMT, my research and teaching areas include digital privacy, trust in news media and media/legal ethics.
In 2020, my book Net Privacy, How we can be free in an age of surveillance was published in Australia by New South Publishing and in Canada by McGill-Queen's University Press. Professor Jason M. Schultz from the NYU School of Law wrote, 'Sacha Molitorisz lays out a compelling case ... he helps us understand that now is not the time to panic, but instead to get pragmatic and political.' Professor Charles Ess from the University of Oslo wrote, 'A much needed guide to, and thereby hope for, preserving and enhancing privacy.' And radio presenter Robbie Buck called it, 'As terrifying as it is brilliant.' The book is based on my PhD, which applied Kantian ethics to internet privacy.
At the UTS faculty of law, I teach the course Ethics, Law and Justice. Meanwhile, since 2012, I have been teaching Global Media at NYU Sydney. The course covers the broad sweep of media developments from #metoo to #privacy, from sousveillance to slacktivism.
From 1994 to 2012, I worked at The Sydney Morning Herald and smh.com.au as a reporter, blogger, editor, reviewer and, for most of my career, as a senior features writer. It was too much fun to qualify as a real job. It also gave me a front row seat for the disruption of traditional media by the internet. Previously, I obtained law and arts degrees (with first class honours in English Literature), from UNSW, where I procrastinated by practising free throws.
With a love of words, ethics and storytelling, I aim to blend the best of journalism (accessibility, nimbleness) with the best of academia (rigour, substance).
Papers for conferences and workshops (selected):
- ECREA, Portugal, 2020 (postponed)
- Consent and Consumer Manipulation Workshop, Canberra (virtual), 2020
- Media Law and IP Conference, Melbourne, 2019
- In the Shadow of Big Data, Sydney, 2019
- Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia Conference, Hobart, 2018
- Amsterdam Privacy Conference, the Netherlands, 2015
- Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference, Sydney, 2015
- Winner, UTS FLARE Award (Faculty of Law Award for Research Excellence) for Excellence in Research Impact and Engagement
Media and public appearances:
- Regular appearances on radio and TV, in print and online
- Regular contributor to The Conversation
- Thousands of articles published in the Sydney Morning Herald
- Convenor of Q&As, panels, seminars and workshops
- International Association of Privacy Professionals grant for research into privacy, consent and smartphones, 2019-2020
- Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for PhD candidature (2013-2017)
- Postgraduate Research Fund (PGRF) grant to present at Amsterdam Privacy Conference 2015
Can supervise: YES
My expertise and qualifications are inter-disciplinary, ranging over ethics, media and law. My current research interests include:
- The ethics and law of internet privacy
- How to restore trust in news media
- News standards and media standards for a digital age
- Media ethics
Courses and classes I have taught include:
- Ethics, Law and Justice course (UTS Law, 2020-)
- Privacy Law (Media Law seminar, UTS, 2018)
- News Reporting (UNSW, 2011-2017)
- Advanced Media Writing (UNSW, 2012-2016)
- The Art of Reviewing (UNSW, 2016-2017)
- Professional and Business Ethics (Macquarie, 2017)
Molitorisz, S 2020, 'More top-down than peer-to-peer: talking to Australians about their ideal news source', Media International Australia, vol. 175, no. 1, pp. 1-15.View/Download from: Publisher's site
In Australia as in the United States, levels of trust in news media remain alarmingly low. In four qualitative workshops held in 2018 in Sydney and Tamworth, 34 participants discussed the ways they access news, their relationship with news media, and how trust might be rebuilt. We also tested the hypothesis that Australians want news sources that are more peer-to-peer and 'like a friend'. Emphatically, participants said they don't want news sources to be like a friend. Instead, they want accuracy, objectivity and service of the public interest. One interpretation is that our participants clearly distinguish between news sources (the ABC, News Corp, etc.) and digital platforms (Facebook, Google, etc.). Furthermore, it would appear they expect news sources and digital platforms to play different roles and follow different standards: the former should adhere to traditional journalistic values; whereas no clear picture emerged of the role and standards that participants think should apply to the latter.
Molitorisz, S, Fray, P & Marshall, C Centre for Media Transition 2019, Trust & News Media in Australia: A Qualitative Study, Centre for Media Transition.
The report was commissioned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as part of its Digital Platforms Inquiry. The inquiry has been described as a world-leading investigation into the effects of digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content aggregation platforms on competition in media and advertising services markets.
To assist the ACCC, the CMT was commissioned to research aspects concerning news and journalistic content. This included the function of journalism, effects of technology and how to consider quality and choice.
Molitorisz, S 2019, 'Privacy pivot: Facebook wants to be more like WhatsApp. But details are scarce.', The Conversation.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg delivered a 3,000+ word post last week, spelling out a new vision for the social network. It prompts just one small question: Facebook, who are you? Zuckerberg's essay, entitled "A privacy-focused vision for social networking", signals a radical shift. Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has encouraged openness, connection and sharing. But now, it would be "privacy-focused", featuring encrypted services and content that "won't stick around forever".
Molitorisz, S 2019, 'Berkutat masalah privasi: Facebook ingin seperti WhatsApp, tapi detailnya belum jelas', The Conversation.
Pendiri Facebook Mark Zuckerberg menulis 3.000+ kata awal Maret lalu, menguraikan visi baru untuk jejaring sosial tersebut. Hanya ada satu pertanyaan kecil: Facebook, siapakah Anda?
The Competition and Consumer Commission is worried about the ability of the platforms we use to determine the news we read.
Wilding, D, Molitorisz, S, Meese, J & Fray, P 2019, 'Submission to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Digital Platforms Inquiry – Preliminary Report', ACCC, https://www.accc.gov.au/focus-areas/inquiries/digital-platforms-inquiry….
Molitorisz, S 2018, 'It's time for third-party data brokers to emerge from the shadows', The Conversation.
Facebook announced last week it would discontinue the partner programs that allow advertisers to use third-party data from companies such as Acxiom, Experian and Quantium to target users. The data broker business model involves accumulating information about internet users (and non-users) and then selling it. As such, data brokers have highly detailed profiles on billions of individuals, comprising age, race, sex, weight, height, marital status, education level, politics, shopping habits, health issues, holiday plans, and more.
Molitorisz, S 2018, 'Accurate. Objective. Transparent. Australians identify what they want in trustworthy media', The Conversation.
In an age of social media and smartphones, people are accessing more news than ever. The problem is, they don't believe much of it. Three-quarters of Australian news consumers say they have experienced "fake news" and are very concerned by it. In the US, two-thirds of adults get their news from social media, but more than half of people expect this news to be "largely inaccurate". This is in stark contrast to public trust in journalism before the rise of the internet.