A former journalist, DEBASHIS “DEB” AIKAT (pronounced EYE-kat) has been a faculty member since 1995 in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill), which is classified as a leading research university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
An award-winning researcher and teacher, Dr. Aikat theorizes on the role of social media, international communication, news media and the future of communication in the digital age.
Dr. Aikat’s research range across the mass media and has been published in book chapters and peer-reviewed research journals such as First Amendment Studies, Health Communication, International Journal of Interactive Communication Systems and Technologies, Global Media and Communication, Electronic Journal of Communication, Popular Music and Society, Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, and publications of the Association for Computing Machinery, Microsoft Corporation, and the International Radio and Television Society (IRTS). He has reviewed manuscripts for the Journalism and Communication Monographs, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Communication and leading publishers such as Sage, Wiley, Routledge, McGraw-Hill, and Oxford University Press.
The Scripps Howard Foundation recognized Dr. Aikat as the inaugural winner of the “National Journalism Teacher of the Year award” (2003) for “distinguished service to journalism education.” His awards for excellence in research and teaching (see vita for a full list) include the IRTS Coltrin Communications Professor of the Year (1997), Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Top Research Paper Awards, a Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction (2003), which is UNC-Chapel Hill’s highest honor for excellence in graduate studies, the David Brinkley Teaching Excellence Award (2000), the AEJMC’s Baskett Mosse Award (1999), the Tanner Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1999), the UNC-Chapel Hill Students’ Undergraduate Teaching Award (1998), and an IBM Research Fund Award (1995).
He has won academic fellowships from renowned institutions such as the Institute for the Arts and Humanities (2000 & 2003) and the Journalism Leadership Institute in Diversity (2004-05) of the AEJMC and the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (ASJMC). He won the 2015 Scripps Howard research grant to foster stronger ties between the academy and the industry.
Several UNC-Chapel Hill senior classes from 1997 through 2005 have honored him with the Edward Kidder Graham-Favorite Faculty Awards. Besides teaching on-campus courses on media, technology and communication, Dr. Aikat has taught online courses since 1997. He conceptualized in 1997 UNC’s first online course in journalism and developed in 2003 a graduate-level online certificate program in “Technology and Communication.”
Dr. Aikat served from 2007 through 2013 as an elected member of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), which evaluates journalism and mass communication programs in universities. He chaired in 2009-10 the AEJMC’s Teaching Committee and has served since 2011 as an elected member of the AEJMC’s Committee on Professional Freedom & Responsibility, which addresses freedom, ethics, media engagement, diversity and and public service.
Dr. Aikat earned in 1995 a Ph. D. in Mass Communication and Journalism from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism. He was awarded in 1990 a Certificate in American Political Culture from the New York University as part of a United States Information Agency fellowship.
He graduated with distinction, attaining first rank in M. A. Journalism in 1990 from the University of Calcutta, India, where he also earned a B. A. with honors in English literature in 1984. He worked as a journalist in India for the Ananda Bazar Patrika’s The Telegraph newspaper and the BBC World Service.
Born in India, Dr. Aikat and his wife, Jay, became U.S. citizens in 2003. Jay is a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science at UNC-Chapel Hill. They live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with their two children.