Community radio and mental illness: beyond information and entertainment
Michael Meadows and Kerrie Foxwell,
Griffith University

A two-year study of community broadcasting audiences in Australia 2004-2006 revealed the important cultural role being played by volunteer radio, in particular, in communities across the country. The study highlighted the critical role being played by these stations in providing their communities with local news and information, largely absent from mainstream media. While audiences confirmed the important community-connection role being played by their community radio stations, there were tantalising hints that local radio might have the potential also to contribute positively to a community’s mental health. A small study funded by the ResponseAbility Project re-examined the audience data more closely to explore this suspected role of community radio in Australia. This paper will report on the findings of the study and will reflect on the implications flowing from this for journalism practice both at the level of the community and beyond.

Journalism, change and listening
Penny O’Donnell, Department of Media and Communication, University of Sydney
Catherine Thill, Department of Sociology, Notre Dame University

‘In globalising Australia, we are compelled to confront questions of media representation of inequality: how do everyday media define and demonstrate gender, class,  and ethnicity? how does the news report and discuss sexism, poverty, racism and other endemic forms of inequality?  Can journalism —- long criticized for stereotyping, misrepresenting and demeaning women, welfare recipients, Indigenous people and migrants —- reform itself from within and produce the kind of news reporting that vilified sectors of the community desire and that better meets the profession’s own standards of excellence? Is it possible to use media critique to produce media justice? Through a case study of the community advocacy organization GetUp!, this paper explores media change practices asking whether we are witnessing a new kind of media activism that not only galvanises people to use journalism but is also anchored in a commitment to listen to each other’.

Talkback radio: An emotional heartland and homeland
Jacqui Ewart
Griffith University
Julie Posetti
University of Canberra

Talkback radio provides listeners and callers with an important space through which they are able to form communities of like-minded people while positioning themselves within and conceptualising their membership of those communities. Talkback radio’s role in this respect has been under-researched particularly in Australia where the focus has been on program formats, hosts as celebrities and the interactions between hosts and callers. Our research explores how talkback radio provides a space which listeners and callers conceptualise as a homeland and heartland. We draw on data gathered from focus groups with commercial, non-commerical and community radio talkback program listeners and callers in looking at particular instances where issues of cultural diversity have been raised in the talkback space and audiences responses to those issues, particularly the idea of ownership of the talkback space. We explore the kinds of tensions and issues that arise in these spaces in relation to multiculturalism and diversity. Our research reveals how one group typically mailigned by mainstream talkback programs – Muslims – have created alternative places and spaces in which they are able to engage in talkback that they find culturally relevant, meaningful and appropriate. While some talkback programs perpetuate a pejorative representation of Islam and Muslims in Australia, Muslims are using their own talkback spaces to negotiate their own cultural representations. One of the issues arising from the cultural separation of talkback spaces is the continued disconnect between Muslims and non-Muslims in talkback spaces. Talkback offers exciting potentials in respect of facilitating two-way flows of information, discussion, talk, debate and understandings between Muslims and the broader Australian community.

Training for Cultural Diversity
Angela Romano
Queensland University of Technology

This paper will present the findings of preliminary research into how education and training can help to improve the quality of reporting of ethnically and linguistically diverse communities in Australia. Numerous educational initiatives have addressed the subject of multicultural reporting, particularly since 1973 when Immigration Minister Al Grassby introduced the then still-new language and concepts of multiculturalism into government debates and policies. In addition to formal classes run within university-level journalism courses, there have been multitudinous workshops, forums, training sessions, information booklets and educational resources in recent decades. The target audiences for these educational initiatives have been many and varied. This research will look at those that have been directed very specifically towards (a) media and journalism students and (b) reporters and editorial decision-makers in the mainstream media. This chapter explores the sometimes uncomfortable question of the efficacy of the educational initiatives that have targeted media and journalism students and workers. In assessing the nature and outcomes of these activities, the aim is to formulate approaches that tertiary educators and industry-based trainers might take when trying to instil best practice among Australia’s journalistic community.

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