Indigenous Community Radio and the Public Sphere
Michael Meadows, Griffith University

A wide range of audiences now access Indigenous community radio and television across Australia. This paper draws from the first-ever audience study of the sector, completed in 2007, revealing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media offer an essential service to communities and play a central organising role in community life. Although previous studies into the Australian Indigenous media sector have suggested this, it is the first time that audiences from the cities to the most remote parts of the continent have had a chance to confirm the importance of locally-produced media in their lives. It has revealed new insights into the nature of the relationship between audiences and the producers of Indigenous community radio and television. The paper argues that continuing circulation of ideas and assumptions about the Indigenous world, through Indigenous media, contributes to the development of a national Indigenous public sphere by highlighting common experiences and issues. Indigenous media also acts — most often quite deliberately — as a cultural bridge between the parallel universes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous society. Indigenous media represent important cultural resources which provide their respective communities with a first level of service. And it is Indigenous media, globally, that continue to play a central role in offering a critique of mainstream media and its place in the formation of the broad democratic public sphere.

Media constructions of Maori issues and the Treaty of Waitangi in Aotearoa
Jennifer Margaret Rankine
Massey University

This presentation will explore the ways in which mass TV news and newspapers in Aotearoa/New Zealand reinforce negative themes about Maori, and use low levels of te reo Maori, the indigenous language. The presentation is based on pilot studies in 2004 and 2007 and a current three-year Media and te Tiriti Project by Kupu Taea, media researchers based in Te Ropu Whariki, a Maori social research group in Auckland. The pilot studies each analysed two weeks of television and radio news and newspaper representations of Maori issues and the Treaty of Waitangi, the 1840 agreement between the Crown and hapu (sub-tribes) which remains a focus of the struggle for Maori sovereignty. The presentation will also discuss the production of a checklist as a campaigning resource for dissatisfied news consumers, and copies of an Accuracy Balance and Fairness leaflet produced for journalism teachers will be available.

Reporting goals: Teaching journalism students and regional reporters how to work with cultural diversity
Kristy Hess and Lisa Waller,
Deakin University, Victoria

This paper examines the effectiveness of a set of curriculum materials developed as part of the Reporting Diversity and Integration Project for the benefit of Australian journalists and journalism students, and advocates that these materials can be enhanced by the adoption of ideas from the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky . The materials take a problem-based learning (PBL) approach to a hypothetical case study that involves Muslim netballers being banned from competition because they want to wear headscarves during play. The researchers imposed a Vygotskian framework by introducing ‘scaffolding’ strategies to support student learning. The material was trialed with 32 first-year Deakin University journalism students and 30 Country Press Australia/MEAA post-cadet journalism students. The responses showed that both groups of students were of the opinion that material added to the curriculum resources by the researchers, which provided information on Muslim women and the headscarf, affected the way they would write the story and that they also thought it was important to provide this kind of information for readers. It is also argued that providing cultural information in an easy and accessible format for students and journalists in newsrooms should be integral to education and training materials designed to improve media coverage of issues of cultural diversity and understanding.

Image of a Nation: Australian Broadcast Media Coverage of Papua New Guinea
Lee Duffield, Evangelia Papoutsaki, and Amanda Watson
Queensland University of Technology

This paper explores the representation of Papua New Guinea in the Australian broadcast media. It presents the findings of a formal study carried out in March 2008, monitoring the news broadcasts of the leading Australian television and radio outlets. The study also included in its scope the news stories published on ABC Online, and some other relevant broadcast media output (such as current affairs programs). The study follows on from earlier work done by Ginau and Papoutsaki, which focused on the print media. This earlier research found a negative bias evident in the stories printed, particularly in the language used, and also suggested that coverage of Papua New Guinea in the Australian press was inadequate, contributing towards negative images of that country in Australia. This study of the Australian broadcast media has found that the ABC provides regular, balanced coverage of the issues and events in Papua New Guinea. However, it also indicates that, beyond the ABC’s contribution, there is very little mention of Papua New Guinea on Australian airwaves. Nonetheless, it notes early indications of a shift in media attention due to the changing political climate, following the election of a new government last year in Australia. The paper includes a brief background on Australian-PNG relations and concludes with some suggestions to improve the coverage of Australia’s former protectorate.

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