STOCKHOLM, February 5, 2021 Erika Theissen Walukiewicz defending her thesis. Photo: Screen Shot Zoom
STOCKHOLM, February 5, 2021 Erika Theissen Walukiewicz defending her thesis. Photo: Screen Shot Zoom

"I am very pleased to announce that you received a passing grade. It was a unanimous decision, which means that everybody agreed. So congratulations Dr. Erika Theissen Walukiewicz", Maria Nilsson, chair of the examination committee, said wishing her "best of luck in the future". 


Opponent: Professor Steen Steensen, Oslo Metropolitan University

Examination committee:

  • Associate Professor Maria Nilsson, Stockholm University
  • Professor Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson, University College Stockholm
  • Professor Anna Maria Jönsson, Södertörn University
  • Doctor Anna Jungstrand, Stockholm University (substitute)


  • Associate Professor Gunilla Hultén, Stockholm University
  • Professor Christian Christensen, Stockholm University

Chair: Professor Ester Pollack, Stockholm University

More about Erika Theissen Walukiewicz

Journalist with a particular interest in the interaction between storyteller and subject. Erika's ongoing research circles around ethics and long-form factual storytelling. In her dissertation "Ethical encounters - the value of care and emotion in the production of mediated narratives" Erika examines subjects' experiences of participating in a television documentary and relates those experiences to filmmakers' actions and attitudes. By means of a care ethical framework attention is directed at relational aspects of morality. Special focus is put on challenges related to the encounter between documentary filmmaker and subject in the context of mediated representation, as well as on the significance of emotions and subjectivity to ethical storytelling. 

More about the external reviewer

Steen Steensen is professor of journalism at the Department of Journalism and Media studies, Oslo Metropolitan University. His research interests are related to the developments of journalism as a social institution, professional field, and text in digital times.

Steen Steensen Photo: Oslo Met
Steen Steensen Photo: Oslo Met

He is currently leading the international research project "Source Criticism and Mediated Disinformation" (2020-2024) funded by the Research Council of Norway. Steensen holds a PhD in media studies from the department of media and communication at the University of Oslo. He has a background as a journalist for Norwegian newspapers. From 2018 to 2020 Steensen was associate editor of Journalism Practice, and from 2013 to 2016 he was editor-in-chief of the Norwegian journal of media studies. From 2016 to 2020 he was the Head of the department of journalism and media studies at OsloMet. During the spring 2021 Steensen is a visiting professor at Bournemouth university in the UK. Photo: OsloMet

Her thesis

Abstract: Full abstract in DiVA
Read more: Download the full thesis here
Subject: Doctoral thesis in Journalism Studies 
Language: English


Factual storytelling that relies on the participation of real-life people must navigate between obligations towards the participant and the story. By placing the relationship between storyteller and subject at the centre, this thesis offers an interdisciplinary examination of ethical and moral issues in the context of turning other people’s experiences into mediated narrative.

Erika Theissen Walukiewicz successfully defended her PhD thesis today. Photo: Karin Sundkvist © 2021
Erika Theissen Walukiewicz successfully defended her PhD thesis 'Ethical Encounters' today at Stockholm University. Photo: Karin Sundkvist © 2021

Besides bringing the interests of participating subjects to the forefront, the study explores the relevance of care ethics within a media context and argues how this perspective contributes to ethical and moral reflection in the scholarly domain of media ethics as well as within media practice. This involves operationalizing the theory of care ethics, with particular emphasis on relational obligations and the moral significance of emotions. With its focus on relational and emotional aspects, the study joins the emerging discussion about the affective dimensions of journalism and extends this discussion to the domain of media ethics.

Extensive interviews with six documentary filmmakers and seven participating subjects comprise the empirical foundation of this case study. Narrative emotion analysis is used to identify subjects’ interests related to participation. By placing focus on subjects’ interests and agency, the relationship between storyteller and subject, as well as the filmmakers’ conflicting obligations, the study highlights a number of ethical issues that transcend the documentary format. The empirical material is regarded against the backdrop of previous research within journalism and documentary ethics, and is discussed within a care ethics framework. 

The findings of the study demonstrate the importance of relational factors to the participant experience. The relationship between storyteller and subject emerges as a trusting relationship where affective signals and emotion management are important aspects in the filmmakers’ conduct. Regarded through the theoretical lens of care ethics, the importance of the relationship to both parties establishes the relationship as being subject to weighty duties. Relational and emotional aspects of the journalistic profession have been placed in the shadow of procedural and deontological concerns. This thesis argues that, to foster ethical practice within factual storytelling, scholars and practitioners alike must take emotional and relational dimensions seriously. The incorporation of care ethics into media ethics is a step in that direction.