5 Visionary Scholars Blazing New Paths In Media Studies

As the digital age continues to evolve, many authors and academics have built substantive platforms dedicated to its study and analysis. From examining pop culture to exploring the role of the Internet in society, these experts are shining a spotlight on the media landscape through thought-provoking books, podcasts, and films. Here, in no particular order, are some figures forging innovative trails in media research.

At #1 is Dr. Crystal Abidin, also known online as wishcrys. Through her work as an anthropologist and ethnographer, she focuses on influencer cultures, Internet celebrity, online visibility, and social media pop cultures. She is a senior research fellow at Curtin University and an affiliate researcher with the Media Management and Transformation Center at Jonkoping University.

Abidin has published extensively in both academic and popular media outlets including Limina and HuffPost. She is also the author of the books Internet Celebrity, Instagram, and Mediated Interfaces. Her research has won international accolades, with such notable honors as being named an ABC TOP 5 Humanities Fellow, and placement on the lists for Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia and Harper's Bazaar Australia's 20 for 2020.

Entering the list at #2 is Dr. Rebecca Hains, a children's media culture expert. She is a professor of media and communication at Salem State University in Massachusetts. Her research focuses on representation and identity from an intersectional, critical, and cultural studies perspective.

Hains is the author of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls through the Princess-Obsessed Years, and Growing Up With Girl Power: Girlhood On Screen and in Everyday Life. She is also the lead editor of the anthology Cultural Studies of LEGO: More Than Just Bricks. In addition to contributing to such publications as The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe Magazine, she has been interviewed as an expert commentator on NPR's On Point, BBC News, and The Meredith Vieira Show.

In the #3 spot is Douglas Rushkoff, an author and documentarian who studies human autonomy in a digital age. His works include Team Human, based on his podcast, as well as the bestsellers Present Shock, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc, and Media Virus. His book Coercion won the Marshall McLuhan Award, and the Media Ecology Association honored him with the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity.

In addition to writing books, Rushkoff has produced the PBS Frontline documentaries Generation Like, The Persuaders, and Merchants of Cool. His commentaries have aired on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR's All Things Considered, and have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times to Time Magazine. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, received a master of fine arts in directing from the California Institute of the Arts, and won a Fulbright award to lecture on narrative in New Zealand.

Coming in at #4 is Anne Helmond. She is an assistant professor of new media and digital culture at the University of Amsterdam, with research interests in software studies, platformization, and web history. Her work has been published in highly-ranked peer-reviewed journals such as New Media & Society, Internet Histories, and The Tracker Guide to the Cloud.

Her dissertation, The Web as Platform: Data Flows in Social Media, received an honorable mention in the AoIR 2016 Best Dissertation Award. In 2019, Helmond was named the Comenius Professor of Digital Methods and Web History at the University of Siegen, Germany. She has appeared in Marie Claire, Wired, and De Correspondent.

Wrapping up the list at #5 is Lord David Puttnam, chair of Atticus Education, an online education company that delivers audio-visual seminars to students all over the world. The courses cover various aspects of cinema, including the creative process, technical accomplishments, empathy, and emotional engagement. In addition, he is a member of the House of Lords, where he pursues an active role in a variety of areas, from educational and environmental issues to digital skills.

Lord Puttnam spent thirty years as an independent producer of award-winning motion pictures, including The Mission, The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire, and Midnight Express. Together, these movies have won multiple Oscars, Golden Globes, and BAFTAs. His book, The Undeclared War: The Struggle for Control of the World's Film Industry, examines the dominance of Hollywood in the entertainment business.