Kevin Rafter

Could you tell us about your job at DCU and what it involves?

The job is a three-legged stool – lecturing, researching and administration. My research interests are in the area of media and politics, and I always have a few different projects underway at the same time. Publishing research internationally is important, and I’ve been fortunate in having my work accepted in several leading peer reviewed journals. 

I’ve two book projects with 2015 deadlines so they are consuming a lot of time at the moment. I also run a MA programme in political communication and have four PhD students. That work is very rewarding. 

What about your non-executive positions and your role as a media consultant?

I’m a board member at Dublin Bus having come through the open public recruitment process introduced in 2011. I probably wouldn’t have been on the radar for appointment otherwise so I’m a big supporter of the new State board appointment reforms arising from the McNulty debacle. I’m also a member of the board of Oxfam Ireland. Both roles are challenging in different ways – joining the audit and risk committee at Dublin Bus has been fascinating. I think I bring media and political insight and judgment to both boards. 

Tell us something about your career background/progression

My first job was as a researcher with Dublin Chamber of Commerce. I did undergrad and postgrad study in economics at Trinity College. But I then sort of stumbled into journalism when RTÉ was recruiting in the mid-1990s. I had a brilliant career in journalism reporting on elections here and in the UK and Germany as well as the Northern Ireland peace process. I also got to present programmes like This Week and Morning Ireland in RTÉ and worked in Leinster House covering politics for The Irish Times, The Sunday Times and the Sunday Tribune. While still working in journalism I had started a PhD in political science so when the opportunity arose in 2008 to move into an academic role I readily made the switch. 

What – if any – have been the main challenges of moving from life in journalism into academia? 

Moving from the private sector to the public sector has brought certain challenges but the roles are actually somewhat similar in terms of focus on continuous deadlines. Working as an academic – and I would have experienced this previously as a journalist – self motivation is vital. Both careers bring great privileges, particularly in terms of the quality of work I get to do, but equally there is a responsibility to deliver what the job demands – be that the incisive interview or quality research paper.

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