Norman Zafra

MA (UP), MJ (Massey)

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Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy


Norman Zafra is straddling both the academic and media industries. He has over ten years of professional experience in the field of broadcast journalism and documentary making. During this period, he directed, produced and wrote a number of documentaries and investigative reports for award-winning Philippine TV shows such as Reporter’s Notebook and I-Witness. Norman is still active in freelance journalism and independent documentary filmmaking.

As researcher, he has an abiding interest in technological convergence and how it alters the practice and content of contemporary journalism. His published academic articles cover the interdisciplinary areas of public relations, strategic communication, new media and journalism. Norman is currently completing his PhD (with creative practice) in media and communication at the University of Auckland. His thesis is a creative and critical exploration of how transmedia logic meshes with political documentary’s nature of representing social realities and goal of promoting social change. The creative component, on the other hand, interrogates the efficacy of transmedia strategy in representing Filipino labour migration in the context of the on-going Christchurch rebuild.

Research | Current

  • Interactive documentary (i-doc)
  • Political documentary
  • New media and technologies
  • Transmedia storytelling
  • Labour migration


  • Winner, Global Media Competition on Labour Migration, International Labour Organization, 2018
  • Obrero (as director/producer/editor), 2018
    • Official selection, 13th Documentary Edge International Festival
  • Recipient, University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship, 2017
  • Recipient, Bruce Jesson Emerging Journalism Award, 2015
  • With Distinction, Master of Journalism, Massey University, New Zealand, 2015
  • Recipient, New Zealand-ASEAN Scholar Awards, 2013
  • A Friend in Sight (as director), 2014 
    • Official selection, 9th Documentary Edge International Festival
    • Official selection, 3rd Cebu International Film Festival
    • Honorable mention, 27th Cultural Center of the Philippines Independent Film & Video Competition
  • Finalist certificate (as producer),  New York Festivals TV & Film Awards and Japan Prize, Report Card, GMA Network 2012
  • Finalist certificate (as producer/writer), Japan Prize, Upuan (armchair), Reporter's Notebook GMA Network 2011
  • Best TV Documentary (as writer/producer), 7th PopDev Media Awards, RH Bill – Reporter’s Notebook GMA Network 2011

Areas of expertise

Documentary directing, producing and writing

Broadcast journalism

Multimedia journalism and disaster reporting

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Zafra, N. S. (2018). Backpack reporting of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines: Implications of convergent technologies on disaster journalism. Pacific Journalism Review, 24 (1), 102-122. 10.24135/pjr.v24i1.397
  • Zafra, N., & Maydell, E. (2018). Facing the information void: A case study of Malaysia Airlines’ media relations and crisis communication during the MH370 disaster. Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, 19, 41-65. Related URL.
  • Strong, C. R., & Zafra, N. (2016). Natural disaster strategic communication: Drone, data and backpack journalism trends. PRism Online PR Journal, 13 (1), 1-16. Related URL.
  • Zafra, N. (2014). A long recovery: Rebuilding after a super storm. Related URL.
  • Zafra, N. (2013). News in 140-characters: #Twitter Practices of TVNZ's ONE News. Paper presented at 25th New Zealand Communication Association Conference, Wellington, New Zealand. 2 December - 4 December 2013. Related URL.
  • Zafra, N. (2012). Indigenous peoples as media audience: An analysis of media use of a Dumagat tribe in the Philippines. Paper presented at 10th ASEAN Inter- University Conference on Social Development, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei. 10 December - 12 December 2012. Related URL.


Contact details

Alternative contact

Office: +64 9 373 7599 ext 81221

Primary office location

HSB - EAST - Bldg 201E
Level 5, Room 522
New Zealand

Social links

Web links