Jonathan Corpus Ong

Jonathan Ong, Associate Professor
Associate Professor, Global Digital Media
I am Co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Television & New Media, housed in the Department of Communication at UMass Amherst.
N354 Integrative Learning Center
Spring 2019 office hours: Mon 1:00-2:30 & by appt.
413 545-1311 (leave message)

The central concern of my work is the ethics of media, which I approach as the moral and social consequences of media and communication technologies in the everyday lives of minority groups and vulnerable communities, especially those in the global South. Two interrelated strands of research extend from this concern: 1) the first is on media witnessing and the moral responsibilities of media institutions, media workers, and media audiences to vulnerable others; 2) the second is on vulnerable communities and their uses of digital media for voice and participation, everyday sociality, and coping or healing. My research develops an ethnographic and decolonial approach that sensitively embeds media practice within rich local histories and ordinary motivations while engaging with normative debates about media justice and cosmopolitan ethics in complex multicultural societies.

I have published extensively in the areas of global media; disasters, development and humanitarian communication; ethnography of social media; creative and digital labor; mediated protest, witnessing and solidarities; and ethics of communication. I have supervised PhD students working in the areas of media in everyday life among Nigerian migrants in London, digital protest in class-divided Thailand, and Belgian audiences of distant suffering. I welcome grad students working in these research areas. Prior to joining UMass Amherst, I was Associate Professor in the University of Leicester and Assistant Professor in Hong Kong Baptist University.

I am the founder and convenor of the British Council-funded Newton Tech4Dev Network, which is a global network of academics, humanitarians, and technology experts, studying emergent media in low- and middle-income countries. I lead the research strand on "Architects of Networked Disinformation: Behind the Scenes of Troll Accounts and Fake News Production in the Philippines" and 2) entertainment media and convivial culture following events of rupture, drawing from case studies on the European refugee crisis and post-Katrina New Orleans.


PhD, Sociology, University of Cambridge, UK

MSc, Politics and Communication, London School of Economics, UK

BA, Communication, Loyola Schools - Ateneo de Manila, Philippines

Courses Taught: 

Undergraduate: Social Media in Everyday Life; Media Solidarities in the Age of Global Crisis



Rovisco, M. & Ong, J.C. (2016) (eds.). Taking the Square: Mediated Dissent and Occupations of Public Space. London & NY: Rowman & Littlefield.

Ong, J.C. (2015). The Poverty of Television: The Mediation of Suffering in Class-Divided Philippines. London & NY: Anthem Press.


Ong, J.C. (2017). “Queer Cosmopolitanism in the Disaster Zone: ‘My Grindr Became the United Nations’”. International Communication Gazette 79(6-7): 656-673. 

Ong, J.C. & Combinido, P. (2017). “Local Aid Workers in the Digital Humanitarian Project: Between ‘Second Class Citizens’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Survivors’”. Critical Asian Studies. Online First and Open Access: December 13, 2017. 

Madianou, M., Ong, J.C., Longboan, L. & Cornelio, J. (2016). "The Appearance of Accountability: Communication Technologies and Power Asymmetries in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Recovery." Journal of Communication 66(6): 960-981.

Ong, J.C. (2015). "Witnessing Distant and Proximal Suffering within a 'Zone of Danger': Lay Moralities of Media Audiences in the Philippines". International Communication Gazette 77(7), 607-621.

Ong, J.C. (2014). ‘”Witnessing” or “Mediating” Distant Suffering? Ethical Questions Across Moments of Text, Production and Reception’. Television & New Media 15(3): 179-196.

Ong, J.C (2009). “Where Is the Cosmopolitan? Locating Cosmopolitanism in Media and Cultural Studies.” Media, Culture and Society, 31(3): 449-466.


Curato, N. & Ong., J.C. (forthcoming, 2018). "Who Laughs at a Rape Joke? Illiberal Responsiveness in Rodrigo Duterte's Philippines." In Dreher, T. & Mondal, A. (eds.). Paying Attention: Ethical Responsiveness and the Politics of Difference. London & New York: Palgrave.

Ong, J.C. & Lin, T.Z. (2017). “Plague in the City: Digital Media as Shaming Apparatus Toward Mainland Chinese 'Locusts' in Hong Kong”. In Aiello, G., Oakley, K., & Tarantino, M. (eds.). Communication and the City. New York: Peter Lang.

Ong, J.C. (2015). “Charity Appeals as ‘Poverty Porn’? Production Ethics in Representing Suffering Children and Typhoon Haiyan Beneficiaries in the Philippines”. Mayer, V., Banks, M. & Caldwell, J. (eds.). Production Studies, the Sequel! Cultural Studies of Global Media Industries. NY: Routledge.


(coverage) "The Tech Aid Workers of Typhoon Yolanda." CNN Philippines. November 8, 2017.

“Digital Sweatshops in Disaster Zones: Who Pays the Real Price for Innovation?” The Guardian. October 11, 2016. (

“Typhoon Grindr: Love, Liberation and Post-Disaster Sex in the Philippines.” IRIN Humanitarian News & Analyses. September 8, 2015. (

“Does Humanitarian Aid Mend Communities or Break Them?” The Guardian. March 27, 2015.

Current Projects: 

Please visit Newton Tech4Dev Network, for more information on current projects.