A former journalist, Deb Aikat (pronounced EYE-cat) has been a faculty member since 1995 in the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

An award-winning researcher and teacher, Dr. Aikat theorizes digital media in the global sphere. Dr. Aikat’s research works 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, Popular Music and Society, Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, and publications of the Association for Computing Machinery and Microsoft Corporation. His research has been funded by government agencies (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).

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 to 2013 as an elected member of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC), which evaluates journalism and media programs in universities. He visited Russia in May 2015 to research press freedom in the former Soviet Union. He founded in 2015 the South Asia Media Initiative that was later instituted as the South Asia Communication Association, which unites professors and professionals in examining media and communication in South Asia and its diaspora worldwide.

His research and teaching excellence awards (see curriculum vita for a full list) include an AEJMC Senior Scholar Grant Award (2017-18), AEJMC-Scripps Howard Researcher of the Year (2014-15), AEJMC Top Research Paper, 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 for 9 years (1997 through 2005). He serves as an elected member of the UNC’s Faculty Hearings Committee, which conducts hearings on faculty dismissal. He serves on the UNC Honor Court’s Faculty Hearings Board Panel that adjudicates violations of academic honesty, personal integrity, and responsible citizenship.

In addition to teaching on-campus classes, Dr. Aikat has taught online courses since 1997 when he conceptualized UNC’s first online course in journalism. He developed in 2003 a graduate-level online certificate program in “Technology and Communication” that was later expanded into the Online MA program. 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).

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 graduated with academic distinction at the top of his class 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 became a U.S. citizen in 2003.



  • Ph.D, Ohio University
  • CAPC, New York University
  • M.A., University of Calcutta, India
  • B.A., University of Calcutta, India


  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2016). Empowering “pub-going, loose and forward women” to rebel: India’s social media foster activism and exchange of ideas. In W. Jia (Ed.) Intercultural Communication: Adapting to Emerging Global Realities (pp. 157-178). San Diego, CA: Cognella.
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2015). Big data dilemmas: The theory and practice of ethical big data mining for socio-economic development. In M. Khosrow-Pour (Ed.), Human rights and ethics: Concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (pp. 10-34). Hershey, PA: Information Resources Management Association
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2015). Friending Facebook, embracing YouTube and trusting Twitter: The intercultural influence of social media in India’s networked public sphere. In D. Broudy, J. Klaehn, & J. Winter (Eds.) News from Somewhere: A Reader in Communication and Challenges to Globalization (pp. 107-124). Eugene, OR: Wayzgoose Press.
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2015). Post-racial pride and prejudice: Media depictions of racial conflict in the networked public sphere. In R. W. Davis & A. Patterson-Masuka (Eds.), Intercultural Communication for Global Engagement (pp. 137-159). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing.
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2015). Theorizing India’s networked public sphere: The role of digital media and intercultural communication in the world’s largest democracy. In R. W. Davis & A. Patterson-Masuka (Eds.), (pp. 168-191). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing.
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2014). Hey kids, this is advertising: Metaphors and promotional appeals in online advertisements for children. Communication and Information Technologies Annual, Studies in Media and Communications 8, (Doing and Being Digital: Mediated Childhoods), 159-194.
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2014). Imagine an app for that: Using science fiction prototypes to conceptualize media tools that empower people. “New media - a critical introspection” special issue of the Global Media Journal-Indian Edition 5(1), (summer, Jun. 2014), pages 1-24.
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2014). The rise of a networked public sphere: The role of social media in India’s media landscape. “Social Media in Asia” special issue of the International Journal of Interactive Communication Systems and Technologies 4(1), (Jan.-Jun. 2014) pages 61-73.
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2014). When freedom tweets: Social media invigorate India’s psyche of free speech. In C. Litang & M. H. Prosser (Eds.) Social Media in Asia (pp. 433-497). Lake Oswego, OR: World Dignity University Press: http://www.dignitypress.org/wdu-press-books/socmedasia [The book, Social Media in Asia, won the Outstanding Edited or Coedited Book Award from the International and Intercultural Communication Division (IICD) of the National Communication Association (NCA) at the NCA 101st Annual Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada, Nov. 19-22, 2015]
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2013). Big data dilemmas: The theory and practice of ethical big data mining for socio-economic development. In H. Rahman & I. Ramos (Eds.), Ethical data mining applications for socio-economic development (pp. 106-130). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2013). Content cornucopia: The genesis and growth of information overload theories. “Culture, technology and globalization in the information age” special issue of Electronic Journal of Communication/La Revue Electronique de Communication 23 (4)
  • Aikat, Debashis “Deb” & Remund, David (2012). Of Time Magazine, 24/7 media, and data deluge: The evolution of information overload theories and concepts.” In J. B. Strother, J. M. Ulijn and Z. Fazal (Eds.), Information Overload: An international challenge to professional engineers and technical communicators (pp. 15-38). IEEE Professional Communication Society, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons and IEEE Press.
  • Ha, Jin Hong, Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” & Jung, Eun Hwa (2015). Theories and messages in South Korean antismoking advertising. Health Communication, 30 (10), 1022-1031. DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2014.915075.
  • Moro, Nikhil and Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2013). “Liberty v. libel: Disparity and reconciliation in freedom of expression theory” First Amendment Studies, 47 (1), pp. 58-83.
  • Remund, David & Aikat, Debashis “Deb.” (2012). Drowning in data: A review of information overload within organizations and the viability of strategic communication principles. In J. B. Strother, J. M. Ulijn and Z. Fazal (Eds.), Information Overload: An international challenge to professional engineers and technical communicators (pp. 231-246).