A former journalist, Debashis “Deb” Aikat (pronounced EYE-cut) is Associate Professor, and since 1995 has been based in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a leading research university.
An award-winning researcher and teacher, Dr. Aikat theorizes the role of social media, international communication, news media and the future of communication in the digital age. Dr. Aikat’s research interests range across the media. His research has been published in book chapters and refereed 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 (ACM), and Microsoft Corporation. His research has been funded by the government (e.g. the US Department of State, US Department of Education’s Title VI grants), corporate foundations (e.g. the Freedom Forum, the Scripps Howard Foundation) and the industry (e.g. IBM, Knight Ridder). He has consulted pro bono with the Town of Chapel Hill, Orange County (NC), and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools among other organizations.
The Scripps Howard Foundation recognized Dr. Aikat as the inaugural winner of the “National Journalism Teacher of the Year award” (2003) for his “distinguished service to journalism education.” The International Radio and Television Society named him the Coltrin Communications Professor of the Year (1997). 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 communications programs in universities. He chaired in 2009-10 the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)’s Committee on Teaching. He has served since 2011 as an elected member of the AEJMC’s Committee on Professional Freedom &
Responsibility, which is designated as the “conscience of AEJMC” for fostering freedom, ethics, diversity, and public service.
Besides teaching on-campus classes, 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.” He has won fellowships from renowned research 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).
His research and teaching excellence awards include a 2015 Scripps Howard Foundation Research Grant to Foster Academy-Industry Ties, AEJMC Top Research Paper Awards, a Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction (2003), UNC-Chapel Hill’s highest honor for excellence in graduate studies, the David Brinkley Teaching Excellence Award (2000), 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). Several UNC-Chapel Hill senior classes honored him with the Edward Kidder Graham-Favorite Faculty Awards (1997 through 2005). He was selected by his peers to serve on the UNC Honor Court’s Faculty Hearings Board Panel that adjudicates violations of academic honesty, personal integrity, and responsible citizenship.
Dr. Aikat earned in 1995 a Ph.D. in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism. He completed in 1990 a Certificate in American Political Culture from the New York University. He has lectured in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas. He graduated with academic distinction by 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 from 1984 through 1992. He also reported for the BBC World Service.
Born in India, Dr. Aikat and his wife, Dr. Jay Aikat, became U.S. citizens in 2003. Jay serves on the faculty in the Department of Computer Science at UNC-Chapel Hill. They live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with their two children.